Rifleman Dodd (AKA 'Death to the French'), is not merely the story of one man seeking to 'do his duty or die in the attempt (Forester, 1932); it operates on too many levels for such a simplification. Two aspects stand out as universal and historical truths which may be extended from the Peninsular War right up to modern times…
In fact, it is quoted as being Napoleon's 'Vietnam', with similar destruction of a mainly agricultural peasant society, and with fighting tactics reflected throughout. It would seem that little has been learned and nothing much has changed, though change is possible.
With regard to the 'scorched earth' policy, Dodd accepted, as a loyal, well-trained fighting man from a good regiment, much like his modern counterpart, that Wellington's orders to sweep the country clear of every living thing in order to deprive the enemy of sustenance, were necessary. Despite evidence of the effects this had on the peasants, he judged it unimportant. In persuading people to destroy what little food they had, leaving nothing but sickly herds of sheep, to starve out the enemy, the stark vision of the real life suffering of innocents caught in the middle, is clearly depicted. The rapes and murders, are also grim reminders of the degradation of the populace in any war, before or since. They call to mind children and women, old and young, mutilated and dead, amid the straw roofed huts in Vietnam, women raped and terrorized by the victorious Russian Army in Germany in WW2, the German atrocities in Stalingrad, the many African conflicts where women were deliberately infected with AIDs, to name a few examples; there are many more. ...
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“Rifleman Dodd: War and the Common People, Summary Essay”, n.d. https://studentshare.net/miscellaneous/308933-rifleman-dodd-war-and-the-common-people-summary.
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