William Dodd
Medium: Television, Book
Also known as: Unknown
Nationality: English
Rank: Lieutenant
Appearances: Sharpe's Triumph,

Sharpe's Fortress

Actor: Toby Stephens

Lieutenant William Dodd appeared in Sharpe's Triumph and Sharpe's Fortress. He was described as the rarest of creatures; a deserter from the East India Company. He had a gangly build, a long, sallow face, and a sullen expression. He was a man with raging ambition, and twenty years as a lieutenant in a system where one could only move up when a senior died or retired grated on him to the point where he deserted with 130 of his own sepoy.

He offered his services to Anthony Pohlmann, another deserter who commanded the Scindia army. Pohlmann recognized his ambition, awkwardness, anger, and ability and made him a major. He then sent him to Chasalgaon as a test. If he could kill East India Company troops, he was no spy and his defection was real. The massacre he perpetrated gained him a promotion and a second regiment to command which he names Dodd's Cobras - it also put him onRichard Sharpe's radar - the only man to survive the massacre when his men died. Sharpe was recruited by chief of East India Company intelligence, Hector McCandless to help him track down the traitorous Dodd, since he was one of the few to have seen him and lived, and as McCandless pointed out, "I saw you fight at Seringapatam and I doubt Dodd can stand up to you." (Sharpe's Triumph)

Dodd escapes the British capture of Ahmednuggur. Shortly afterwards he encounters Sharpe and McCandless and offers Sharpe a commission in his battalion. He tells Sharpe he committed the Chasalgaon Massacre because he wanted men who fought him to fear him, that if they feared him any battle was all ready half won. He explains his rules of war: "Make the bastards fear you...never reinforce failure...look after your men." (Sharpe's Triumph)

Sharpe chooses to remain with McCandless who was then wounded during the theft of his horses by Dodd. Dodd survives Pohlmann's defeat at Assaye taking his Cobras with him.

He returns in Sharpe's Fortress where he has allied with Manu Bappoo and has been promoted to colonel. He survives defeat at the Battle of Argaum and withdraws to the mountain fortress of Gawilghur. When the fortress is stormed by the British, Dodd betrays the Indian commander and locks the gates of the inner keep against both the retreating Indian defenders and the British assault force.

Newly commissioned Ensign Sharpe leads a small force over the walls and traps Dodd on the ramparts. Dodd kills Sharpe's young Arab servant, Ahmed, then takes on Sharpe, giving him the facial scar which becomes Sharpe's most distinguishing feature in the course of the fight. He is defeated and killed after the intervention Sergeant Lockhart.


In Sharpe's Challenge, Dodd is described as a British deserter. The film begins with the massacre at Chasalgaon in 1803 before skipping forward to the post-Waterloo period, circa 1817.

Dodd is the effective ruler of the region, in concert with regent, Madhuvanthi. Dodd meets Sharpe and Patrick Harper when they arrive at his fort posing as deserters and offers them places in his army until he learns their true allegiance.

He has arranged a mine to take care of the attacking British force but Sharpe and Harper manage to escape during the attack and set off the mine prematurely.

Seeing his cause lost, Dodd kills Madhuvanthi and attempts to flee with the royal treasury but is confronted by Sharpe. A sword fight between the two men ends with Dodd's death.

Historical Note[]

There was actually a Lieutenant William Dodd of the East India Company. He had a goldsmith beaten, who later died of his injuries. After an initial sentence of the loss of six months pay for the crime, a furious Wellesley convinced the East India Company to dismiss him and let him be tried in a civilian court for murder. Dodd defected to the Mahrattas rather than face trial. He did not, however, take any sepoys with him.