Harrison Horton Dodd

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Harrison Horton Dodd

Birthplace: Utica, Oneida, New York
Death: June 02, 1906 (82)
Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin
Immediate Family:

Son of Ezra Buel Dodd and Catherine Dodd
Husband of Ann Maria Dodd
Father of Richard Phillips Dodd; Harvey Bradford Dodd; Martha Jacobs; Joan, Jean or Jenny Dodd and Story Dodd
Brother of Henry Dodd; Edward Scott Dodd; Harriet Keeler; John Wade Dodd; Jane Turner and 2 others

Occupation: a founder of the 1860s-era OSL (Order of Sons of Liberty), Aft Am Excu
Managed by: Kenneth Kwame Welsh, (C)
Last Updated:

About Harrison Horton Dodd


Harrison Horton Dodd (February 29, 1824–June 2, 1906) was a founder of the 1860s-era OSL (Order of Sons of Liberty), a paramilitary secret society which was a continuation and/or extension of the KGC (Knights of the Golden Circle). The basic goal of members of the OSL was to thwart the war efforts of the Union military forces (as epitomised in the war policies of Abraham Lincoln and his close political and military allies), while remaining citizens of the United States.

Harrison Horton Dodd was born in Brownville, New York. In his early adult life he moved to Toledo, Ohio, where he unsuccessfully ran for mayor under the Know-Nothing Party banner in 1855. He moved to Indianapolis, Indiana the next year, establishing himself as a printer and an active participant for the Democratic Party.[1]

During the first year of the war, when Democrats were sometimes forced to take oaths of allegiance, Dodd advertised to start "Marion Dragoons", a company of soldiers to fight for the Union army. However, the company never actually formed.[2]

Dodd frequently campaigned against Oliver P. Morton's and Abraham Lincoln's policies, going so far as to help start the Sons of Liberty after becoming disillusioned with the OAK (Order of American Knights), although he never called the Sons that by name. By all accounts he was the most important Copperhead in Indianapolis.[3] In 1863 a speech given by Dodd at Rensselaer, Indiana convinced a Methodist preacher that Dodd was a traitor. The local provost marshal without the authority to do so arrested Dodd. Local Democrats threatened a riot, and Dodd was freed with a promise that he would stop any such riot from occurring.[4] Felix Grundy Stidger (1836–1908), a U.S. Secret Service Agent who had successfully infiltrated the OSL (Order of Sons of Liberty) and held the position of Grand Secretary of the OSL for the state of Kentucky, claimed that Dodd was planning on the releasing of the Confederate prisoners at Camp Morton.[5]

On August 20, 1864 Dodd's offices were raided by the Union military, recovering ammunition rounds in the thousands and 400 revolvers that were branded "Sunday school books". Several of his co-conspirators, such as William A. Bowles, were arrested. Dodd managed to avoid capture and escaped into Canada. Dodd was convicted of treason by a military commission, and sentenced to be hanged. President Andrew Johnson commuted the sentence to life imprisonment on May 31, 1865.[6] The conviction of the co-conspirators went through the federal courts, and eventually reached the United States Supreme Court where Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase issued a habeas corpus freeing them on April 3, 1866. Later that year on December 17 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that since the civil courts were still functioning in Indiana at the time they were convicted by military commission, the convicted were robbed of constitutional rights and were freed under a holding styled as Ex parte Milligan.[7]

Returning from Canada after the trials, Dodd served several terms as mayor of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin as a Republican, joining the party of his wartime enemies Morton and Lincoln.[8]


  • Bodenhamer, David (1994). The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-31222-1.
  • Holliday, John. (1911). Indianapolis and the Civil War. E. J. Hecker.
  • Klement, Frank L. (1984). Dark Lanterns: Secret Political Societies, Conspiracies and Treason Trials in the Civil War. LSU Press. ISBN 0-8071-1567-3.
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Harrison Horton Dodd's Timeline

February 29, 1824
Utica, Oneida, New York
June 2, 1906
Age 82
Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin