Rifleman Dodd is a fascinating book by C.S. Forester published in 1932, which portrays a story of the 18th century war about a warrior called Matthew Dodd. This story begins with rifleman Dodd and some French Soldiers led by Sergeant Godinot. Dodd was a British rifleman who was left behind enemy lines. There are a lot of lessons learned from this book.
This warrior was left by Lord Wellington of the British Army in the heat of battle. Matthew realized his circumstances and carried on with his mission, day and night to kill the French people and prevent them from building a bridge across the Tagus river. Matthew was forced to survive behind enemy lines for some month with help from some local Portuguese. Summary of this book describes everything Matthew went through day and night as he fights to get back to his men.
A little history about Matthew Dodd
Dodd is a British foot soldier in the Napoleonic Wars, also known as Peninsular War. Matthew served in the 95th rifle for the British. The warrior was known as a green-shirted man while other wore red clothes. He was separated from his regiment when they retreated and left him behind enemy lines in Portugal. Rifleman Dodd killed Frenchmen he came across, one by one in order for him to get back to his men and during that process, he showed great leadership skills, tenacity and commitment to his mission. Matthew made a friend called idiot who he left by the hillside because of cold, starvation and fever.
It was a tough decision for him. Matthew experienced the death of a lot of his friends which he made in Portugal, his two friends from Portugal were hanged before his eyes. Local Portuguese villagers who helped him were slaughtered by the Frenchmen. But he was able in the midst of great despair to kill a handful of Sergeant Godinot’s men allowing British men to win. He hides in bushes to carry out his “hit and run” war tactics on the enemy camp. Matthew also ambushed Frenchmen wherever they went and killed them one by one. The French people became scared of him and started calling him “devil”. He was skillful with his rifle which gave him superiority over the French people who were using muskets. He was able to join his fellow brothers and sisters after a few months of fighting day and night.
Challenges faced By Rifleman Dodd
Rifleman Dodd faced three major challenges when he was left behind enemy lines in the heat of battle.
- The Portuguese boy he met.
- Starvation – This was a major challenge for him which could have had a negative effect on his response to danger. He only ate what was enough to give him energy, giving him the privilege to save food and conserve energy he needs in battle.
- Fatigue – This is a state of weariness which was a major challenge for him as it is for every soldier in wars. Dodd overcame fatigue and continued with his mission. He was able to sleep at night with his rifle in his hand while carrying his pack, in case he has to defend himself or others. He then wakes up in the morning to continue killing them. Lack of dwelling place contributed to his fatigue.
- The Portuguese boy he met – This was the greatest challenge for him because he didn’t know if he could trust him. Matthew would need to share some food which was not enough with him. The boy called Idiot was able to convince him because idiot understood their language and knew the villages better. Matthew was able to overcome this challenge out of the kindness of his heart and later, trusted him. Idiot became his personal navigator and translator.
Major characters of Rifleman Dodd that made him overcome the challenges
There are some lessons learned from this book based on his characters. These attributes include:
- Skill and talent
- High devotion for his duty.
One other lesson learned from this book is how a single man can make a great contribution to any nation in cases of despair just by his courage and determination. Dodd has the ideology that if a plan refuses to work out, there is a need to make another one and there is no room for hopelessness. He was taught that he must carry out his duty or die trying.