Dodge City Delights

Theodore Ayrault Dodge

For those of us wargaming on a budget, one of the delights of modern tech is the ease with which we can access free and nearly-free resources that would have been beyond our means in an earlier age.

A case in point is the military writing of Theodore Ayrault Dodge.

After a military eduction in Berlin and further studies in London, Dodge fought in the union army during the American Civil War. He lost his right leg at Gettysburg, and rose to the rank of brevet lieutenant-colonel. He subsequently served in the US War Department.

But the real passion in Dodge’s life was the history of warfare. Despite his disability, he travelled the length and breadth of Europe to visit the battlefields and other landmarks that dot the careers of warfare’s great captains. His extensive field research came to fruitition in his substantial volumes on Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus Adolphus and Napoleon. When he died his final study, on Frederick the Great, was not yet finished.

To date I have read his books on Gustavus and Hannibal, and have just started his volume on Caesar. The writing is clear and elegant, and he includes a wealth of maps and battle plans. While his personal judgements on some matters – for example the military abilities of Sulla – have not all stood the test of time, Dodge always presents a cogent and well-argued case for his views.

Moreover his books are available free online as PDFs, or for a minimal cost via Kindle. Given the prohibitive amount that one sometimes has to spend on specialist military texts, this kind of resource is a real boon. I can highly recommend Dodge’s work as an addition to your reading list!