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Glenville Mellen Dodge
[[Image:150px|center|200px|border]]Major General Dodge between 1860 and 1865
Personal Information
Born: April 12, 1831(1831-04-12)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: January 3, 1916 (aged 84)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Nickname: {{{nickname}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Major General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Battles: American Civil War
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Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Grenville Mellen Dodge[1] (April 12, 1831 – January 3, 1916) was a Union army officer on the frontier and during the Civil War, a U.S. Congressman, businessman, and railroad executive who helped construct the Transcontinental Railroad.

Early life and career[]

Dodge was born in Putnamville, near Danvers in Massachusetts. In 1851, he graduated from Norwich University in Vermont with a degree in civil engineering, then moved to Iowa, where he settled in the Missouri River city of Council Bluffs. For the next decade, he was involved in surveying for railroads, including the Union Pacific. He married Ruth Anne Brown in 1854. He was also a partner in the Baldwin & Dodge banking firm, and in 1860 served on the Council Bluffs City Council.

Civil War[]

Dodge joined the Union Army in the Civil War. At the beginning of the war, Dodge was sent by the Governor of Iowa to Washington, D.C., where he secured 6,000 muskets to supply Iowa volunteers. In July 1861, he was appointed Colonel of the 4th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He commanded the 1st Brigade, 4th Division at the Battle of Pea Ridge, where he was wounded. For his services at the battle, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers and placed in command of the District of the Mississippi, where he was involved in protecting and building railroads.

He was appointed major general in June 1864 and commanded the XVI Corps during William T. Sherman's Atlanta campaign. At the Battle of Atlanta, the XVI Corps was held in reserve, but it happened to be placed in a position which directly intercepted John B. Hood's flank attack. During the fighting Dodge rode to the front and personally led Thomas W. Sweeny's division into battle.

This action outraged Sweeny so much that he got in a fistfight with Dodge and fellow division commander John W. Fuller. Sweeny received a court-martial for this action while Dodge continued to lead the corps at the Battle of Ezra Church. During the ensuing siege of Atlanta, while looking through an eyehole in the Union breastworks a Confederate sharpshooter spotted him and shot him in the head. After, he was to complete the war as commander of the Department of the Missouri.

Also during the war, he provided information to Thomas Clark Durant who consequently made a fortune[1] smuggling contraband cotton from the Confederate States.

Indian campaigns[]

As the Civil War was coming to a close, Dodge's Department of the Missouri was expanded to include the departments of Kansas, Nebraska and Utah. During the summer of 1865, Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians had been raiding the Bozeman Trail and overland mail routes. Dodge ordered a punitive campaign to quell these raids, which came to be known as the Powder River Expedition. Field command of the expedition was given to Brig. Gen. Patrick Edward Connor, who commanded the District of Utah. Connor's men inflicted a decisive defeat on the Arapaho Indians at the Battle of the Tongue River, but the expedition in general was inconclusive and eventually escalated into Red Cloud's War.


File:1869-Golden Spike.jpg

Dodge at right center shaking hands with Samuel S. Montague at the Golden Spike Ceremony. Photograph by Andrew J. Russell

During the 1865 campaign in the Black Hills, while escaping from a war-party, Dodge realized he had found a pass for the Union Pacific Railroad, west of the Platte River. In May 1866, he resigned from the military and, with the endorsement of Generals Grant and Sherman, became the Union Pacific's chief engineer and thus a leading figure in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Dodge's job was to plan the route and devise solutions to any obstacles encountered. Dodge had been hired by Thomas Clark Durant who was the major investor in the Union Pacific. Durant was also defrauding the company and manipulated the route to suit his land-holdings. This brought him into vicious conflict with Dodge. Eventually Durant imposed a consulting engineer named Silas Seymour to spy and interfere with Dodge's decisions.

Seeing that Durant was making a fortune, Dodge bought shares in Durant's company, Crédit Mobilier, which was the main contractor on the project. He made a substantial profit, but when the scandal of Durant's dealings emerged, Dodge removed himself to Texas to avoid testifying in the inquiry. Dodge was born in Danvers, Massachusetts on April 12, 1831 to Sylvanus and Julia Theresa Phillips Dodge. From the time of his birth until he was 13 years old, Dodge moved frequently while his father tried various occupations. In 1844 the fortunes of Sylvanus Dodge improved. An ardent Democrat, he became postmaster of the South Danvers office and opened a bookstore. Good fortune also was in store for the young Dodge. While working at a neighboring farm, the 14-year-old met the owner's son, Frederick W. Lander, and helped him survey a railroad. Lander, who was to become "one the ablest surveyors of the exploration of the West," according to Charles Edgar Ames in Pioneering the Union Pacific. Lander was impressed with Dodge and encouraged him to go to his alma mater, Norwich University, and become a civil engineer. Dodge prepared for college by attending Durham Academy in New Hampshire.

Politics and later life[]


Dodge's house in Council Bluffs, Iowa

In 1866, Dodge defeated incumbent Republican John A. Kasson in the nominating convention to represent Iowa's 5th congressional district in Congress. In the general election, he won, defeating fellow former Union general James M. Tuttle. His election brought problems since he was also away much of the time building the railroad. His time in Washington (during the Fortieth United States Congress), was often spent lobbying on behalf of the Union Pacific, although he supported internal improvements to the West. He served in the House from March 4, 1867 to March 3, 1869.

He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Chicago in 1868 and again at the 1876 convention in Cincinnati. After his term in office expired, he returned to railroad engineering. During the 1880s and 1890s, he served as president or chief engineer of dozens of railroad companies. Dodge went to New York City to manage his growing number of businesses he had developed.

Dodge returned home to Iowa and died in Council Bluffs in 1916. He is buried there in Walnut Hill Cemetery. His home, the Grenville M. Dodge House, is a National Historic Landmark.

Fort Dodge in Kansas, an important army base during the settlement of the western frontier, was named in his honor.[2][3] Although Dodge Street in Omaha, Nebraska, the location of Union Pacific Headquarters, is often reputed to have been named after him the street was actually named for influential (and unrelated) Iowa Senator Augustus C. Dodge.[citation needed]

See also[]

32x28px United States Army portal
32x28px American Civil War portal


  • ^ Variations of his name include Greenville and Grenville Mellen. Grenville Mellen is the name used on his grave site in Iowa.


  1. American Experience | Transcontinental Railroad | People & Events at
  2. Wright, Robert M. Dodge City, The Cowboy Capital, 1913.
  3. Schmidt, Heinie, Fort Dodge State Soldiers' Home, High Plains Journal, January 15, 1948.

External links[]

Template:Start box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States House of Representatives Template:U.S. Representative box |}

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