October 17, 2023
“General Grenville Dodge, Grant’s Chief Intelligence Officer”
– Prof. William Feis
October 17, 2023
Whether fighting Confederates during the Civil War or constructing the Union Pacific Railroad in the West afterwards, Grenville M. Dodge’s extraordinary life made him a national hero and, in the words of one contemporary, the very symbol of “the American ideal of courage, vision, action and candor.” But Dodge’s contributions went beyond helping save the Union and linking America by rail. This presentation will examine Dodge’s unique Civil War service and his railroading days but will also illuminate other important aspects of his long life, including his steadfast devotion to his fellow veterans and his deep love for his hometown of Council Bluffs, Iowa. These insights provide more texture and depth to Dodge’s remarkable life—a life his friend Theodore Roosevelt believed was “essentially American.”
Dr. William B. Feis received a BA and MA in History from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a PhD in Military History from The Ohio State University. He is the author of Grant’s Secret Service: The Intelligence War from Belmont to Appomattox (University of Nebraska Press, 2002) and co-author of For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States from 1607 to 2012 (Free Press, 2012). He also wrote “Essentially American”: General Grenville M. Dodge and Family (Donning Publishers, 2017), a work commissioned by the Historic General Dodge House in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Dr. Feis gave an invited lecture on his book Grant’s Secret Service at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which aired on C-Span 3 American History TV in September 2018. He is currently working on editing a collection of letters from soldiers serving in Iowa and Indiana regiments during the Civil War. Dr. Feis is Professor of History at Buena Vista University where he has been teaching for over 25 years.