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Rifleman Dodd

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The book Rifleman Dodd by C.S. Forester is an excellent novel about the French – Portages war in 1807 that was started by Napoleon. In 1996 Rifleman Dodd was the Commandant choice. The novel supported the year’s theme of “Commitment. “

Rifleman Dodd is about a certain British foot solider named Matthew Dodd. Who comes across a very difficult period of time during the peninsular war around the year of 1810. Rifleman Dodd had been left behind during the retreat to the lines of Torres Vedras. Being a young Private at war, he didn’t let anything, or anyone stop him. He realized his situation and carried out the mission, which was to kill the Frenchman. He kept going and fighting through fatigue and starvation while doing skirmish after skirmishes; trying to stay alive. During his journey he used proper concealment and guerrilla warfare-like maneuvers which allowed him to lay siege to a French convoy, and also the French city. In the French city there was a bridge being built soon for an attack. Dodd was capable of sneaking through the gates and set the bridge ropes on fire.

One of the most important things I came across while reading this novel was you should never underestimate your enemy. “If one plan goes wrong there is need to make another, that is all. And, as for despair — there was no room for despair in Dodd’s make-up. The regiment had taught him that he must do his duty or die in the attempt; a simple enough religion fit for his simple mind. As long as there was breath in his body or a thought in his mind he must struggle on; as long as he went on trying there was no need to meditate on success or failure. The only reward for the doing of his duty would be the knowledge that his duty was being done.”

– C.S. Forester, Rifleman Dodd
The main character was a Private, Private Dodd. Dodd was left behind not knowing how to speak their language. On top of that starving, and fighting through fatigue. He never showed weakness or let it get the best of him. He set a huge example of honor, courage and commitment not only to himself, but to the mission. There are a few lessons I learned while reading this novel. A few example, keeping a safe distance from the enemy, choosing your target wisely and most important knowing when to fire at you target. I like to relate this lesson with one of our 11 leadership principles “(4) make sound and timely decisions.” In this novel Dodd was very successful when it came to decisions. He knew exactly when to increase the distance from the enemy. He also adapted well when he wasn’t able to vocally get his message across to others. He made a decision to use hand signals for others to understand him.

A lot of these lessons are common knowledge used in modern life, which one sometimes forgets. However, some may be a little difficult because of today’s technology. Dodd used cover and concealment to stay hidden from the enemy such as radars and sniper-rifles. However, still a vital role in the military.

I would highly recommend this book, not only to my peers, to every marine. The beginning might be a little dry and boring at first. However, reading into the book you become hooked because it uses historical facts and fictional characters.

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