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Lt General Charles Douglas





Charles Douglas (21 March 1814 - 28 July, 1885) was born in Westminster, London. His parents having died, Charles was raised by his paternal grandmother. He received the customary mathematical education, attending Thomas Murray's Military Academy in Edinburgh from 1829 to 1831. Nominated a Cadet for the East India Company's Military Seminary, Charles entered Addiscombe on the 3rd of February, 1832.

Having passed his public examination at Addiscombe on the 13th of December, 1833, Charles was allocated to the Bengal Artillery. He embarked for India on the 'Dungevan Castle' on the 11th of February, 1834, having been commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Bengal Army.

Charles arrived at Calcutta on the 7th of July, 1834, and was appointed to do duty with a detachment of Artillery drafts proceeding by water from Dum Dum to Cawnpore. He was then posted to the 4th Company, 4th Battalion, Bengal Artillery at Agra.

In November of 1838 Charles was ordered to take charge of a detachment of invalids and time-expired men proceeding to Chunar and Calcutta. Thereafter order to do duty at Dum Dum, during his progress to Joudpore he had occasion to enter a village on the line of march when he was assaulted by the zumeendar (a headman or large landowner), sword in hand, and wounded. Charles returned the attack “by passing his sword through the body of his outrageous assailant, and killing him on the spot."

Charles was appointed to command the 4th Company, 4th Battalion, Bengal Artillery in 1840 and was promoted Lieutenant in January of 1841. He transferred to the 2nd Company, 4th Battalion, Bengal Artillery in October of 1841 and appointed to command the Battalion in March of 1842.

In September of 1842 with the First Afghan War just starting, Charles was appointed to do duty with the No. 6 Light Field Battery as part of the Field Force under the command of Major-General Pollock. Charles was to participate in all of the actions in the advance upon Cabul. Charles was engaged with the enemy at the battle of Tezeen (or Tazeane) Pass on the 13th of September, 1842, which was effectively a rear-guard action. The complete defeat of Akbar Khan in this battle opened the way to Kabul, which was reached by the Major-General Pollock’s Force on the 15th of September, 1842. For his part in the battle of Tezeen, Charles Douglas received a mention in Lieutenant-Colonel Richmond’s Despatches of the 11th of December, 1842:

“Having made the necessary disposition of my force to protect the baggage of the pass, the different picquets were gradually withdrawn to strengthen the latter. Soon after I observed a large body of the enemy collecting near the Fort of Tezeen, South East of my position, and directed Lieutenant Douglas, whose guns had been previously posted on a commanding point, to open on them, but the distance proving too great for shells, the fire was discontinued.

As the enemy showed no disposition to molest us further, and the whole of the baggage having entered the pass, the horse artillery and Dragoons were permitted to commence their march. But before the latter had filed off the enemy brought two guns to bear upon our position, which obliged me to place the remainder of the Cavalry under cover of the rough ground in the vicinity. These guns, fortunately, did no harm and were soon after either withdrawn by the enemy or silenced by a fire of round shot from Lieutenant Douglas's 9-pounder, ably directed by that officer and by Captain Laurence.”

In November Charles was appointed Adjutant and Quarter-Master to the Foot Artillery detachment serving with Major-General Pollock's force. For his services during the Afghan campaign, Charles received the First Afghan War medal with Kabul reverse.

Subsequent to the First Afghan War, Lieutenant Douglas received various appointments with the Ordnance Department. He was promoted Captain in May of 1851 and Commissary of Ordnance, 1st Class in April of 1853.

Charles was returning to India from a sick furlough in England when the Indian Mutiny erupted at Meerut in May of 1857. Landing in Bombay in August of 1857, Charles was ordered to transfer to the Delhi Magazine. However, in October he was ordered to instead assume temporary charge of the Ordnance Department at Mhow until the state of the country permitted him to travel to Delhi to take up his appointment there.

Subsequently ordered to do duty with the Central India Field Force under the command of Major-General Sir Hugh Rose, K.C.B., and in March of 1858 Charles joined Major-General Rose’s forces then besieging the fort and city of Jhansi. Charles was present at the assault, taking a gun down to the gate near which the right-side assaulting party was attempting an escalade. For his services at Jhansi, Charles was mentioned in Major-General Rose’s despatch of 30 April 1858.

Charles was subsequently appointed to command the Artillery Field Force, Hyderabad Contingent, which formed part of the Hyderabad Contingent Field Force under the command of Major Orr. In that capacity Charles commanded the artillery at the battle against the rebel forces of Tantia Topee at Koonch on the 7th of May, 1858, for which he was mentioned in Major Orr’s dispatch of 14 May 1858 which was attached to, and made part of, Major-General Rose’s despatch of 24 May 1858:

4. Having received the Major-General’s orders to take ground to the left, I moved in that direction to the front of the village of Oomree, from which I advanced direct upon Koonch. In my immediate front were some gardens and walled enclosures, held in force by the Enemy, and from which a heavy fire was directed upon our line. The artillery under Captain Douglas advanced, and it fire having silenced that of the Rebels, I ordered the gardens and enclosures to be seized by the Infantry…

5.The Artillery had meanwhile advanced so far as to bring it completely within the range of the Enemy’s Guns from two Batteries, and they were thus enabled to open fire upon it a double fire of round shot, shell and shrapnel from the effects of which several

Casualties occurred…

6. My best thanks are due to the undermentioned officers for the gallant, zealous, and efficient aid they afforded me throughout the day, and at all other times, and I beg to bring their names to the favorable notice of the Major-General.

Captain Douglas, Bengal Artillery, commanding Artillery Field Force, Hyderabad Contingent…

In mid-May, Charles commanded the Hyderabad Contingent Artillery at the battle for Calpee (or Culpee). This was a hard fought battle as the large opposing rebel force included the Gwalior Contingent and the forces of the Nawab of Banda. Calpee was also the best fortified stronghold in central and western India and contained a huge arsenal of power, shot and weapons. For his services at Calpee, Charles was mentioned in Major-General Rose’s despatch of 22 June 1858, which stated:

I directed Captain Douglas, Bengal Artillery, Commanding Artillery Hyderabad Contingent, to post four 6-pounders on the right of Mutha, and burst shrapnel just over the heads of the Rebels in the ravines; this he did with his usual skill and devotion, under a heavy fire of the enemy’s Riflemen so effectually, that the Rebels who were suffering from the admirable fire of Her Majesty’s 71st, who still had some of the better sort of ammunition, retired from their ambuscades, the main body down the ravines, a few across the country to Culpee, the 71st making killing practice at the latter, at 700 and 800 yards…

Major-General Rose also included Charles in his “List of Officers and men of the Central India Field Force specially mentioned for important or good service in the operations before Culpee, from 17th to 23rd May, 1858”:

"Captain Douglas, Bengal Artillery. Gallantly and skillfully placing his guns at Muttra, under a heavy musketry fire, and clearing the ravines of Rebels, on the 17th May.”

For his serves commanding the Hyderabad Contingent Artillery in the operations before Calpee, Charles was mentioned in Major Orr’s dispatch dated 28 May 1858 and his name brought to the favorable notice of Major-General Rose.

For his service during the Mutiny, Captain Charles Douglas was mentioned four times in despatches, received a no bar Indian Mutiny medal, and on the 20th of July, 1858, was made a Brevet Major.

Following the transfer of the East India Company's European units and artillery to the Crown in 1860, Major Douglas transferred to the Royal Artillery. In the same year, while still on the strength of the Royal Artillery, Charles transferred to the Electric Telegraph Department. He was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel on the 11th of February, 1861, and became Director General of the Electric Telegraph Department in December of that year. In September of 1865, he was promoted to Colonel which necessitated him leaving the Electric Telegraph Department and returning to service with the 19th Brigade, Royal Artillery.


He was promoted Major-General on the 26th of March, 1870, and Lieutenant-General on the 1st of October, 1877. Charles was placed on the Retired List and granted the rank of General on the 1st of July, 1881.

General Douglas died on the 28th of July, 1885, at Calcutta, India. He left an estate with a value of £4,578.





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