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General Sir James Dawes Douglas





General Sir James Dawes Douglas KCB (14 January 1785 – 6 March 1862) was a British army officer, who had a long and illustrious military career, which included commanding Portuguese troops in the Peninsular War.

Douglas was the elder son of Major James Sholto Douglas, who was first cousin of the fifth and sixth Marquises of Queensberry, by Sarah, daughter of James Dawes. He entered the army as an ensign in the 42nd regiment, or Black Watch, and was at once taken on the staff of Major-general Sir James Duff, commanding at Limerick, where he became an intimate friend of his fellow aide-de-camp, William Napier.

In 1801 he was promoted lieutenant and joined the Royal Military College at Great Marlow. He was promoted captain in 1804, and, being pronounced fit for a staff situation, was appointed deputy-assistant quartermaster-general with the force sent to South America in 1806. His conduct was praised in despatches, and in 1807 he was nominated in the same capacity to the corps proceeding to Portugal under Sir Arthur Wellesley. He was present at the battle of Roliça and battle of Vimeiro. He advanced into Spain with Sir John Moore, and served with the 2nd division through the retreat from Salamanca and at the Battle of Corunna. When William Carr Beresford was sent to Portugal in 1809 to organise the Portuguese army, Douglas was one of the officers selected to accompany him, and he was in February 1809 promoted major in the English army and appointed lieutenant-colonel of the 8th Portuguese regiment. He got his regiment fit for service, and was present at the passage of the Douro River in May 1809, and at the close of the year his regiment was attached to Thomas Picton's, the 3rd division, and brigaded with the 88th and 45th regiments. At the battle of Busaco this brigade had to bear the brunt of the French attack, and Douglas's Portuguese received praise for its conduct, mentioned in Lord Wellington's despatch.

He commanded this regiment all through the campaign of 1811, and in 1812, when the Portuguese were brigaded alone, it formed part of Sir Denis Pack's Portuguese brigade. This was the brigade which distinguished itself at the battle of Salamanca by its attempt to carry the hill of the Arapiles, and Douglas's name was again mentioned in despatches. At the beginning of 1813 Major-general Pack was removed to the command of an English brigade, and Douglas, who had been promoted lieutenant-colonel in May 1811, succeeded him in the 7th Portuguese brigade, which formed part of Sir John Hamilton's Portuguese division. At the head of this brigade he distinguished himself at the battles of the Pyrenees, where he was wounded, of the Nivelle, the Nive, Orthes, and Toulouse, where he was again twice severely wounded and lost a leg. At the conclusion of the war he received a gold cross and three clasps for the battles in which he had been engaged with a regiment or brigade, was made K.T.S. and K.C.B. on the extension of the order of the Bath.

He was deputy quartermaster-general in Scotland (1815–22) and in Ireland (1825–30). Douglas was promoted colonel in 1819 and major-general in 1830, when he received the command of the south-western district of Ireland. From 1837 to 1842 he was Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey. He was promoted lieutenant-general in 1838, and was made a G.C.B. in 1860. He had been made colonel of the 93rd foot in 1840 and of the 42nd highlanders in 1850, and was promoted general in 1854. After leaving Guernsey he retired to Clifton, where he died on 6 March 1862, aged 77.


He married Marianne, daughter of William Bullock, in 1815. They had eleven children, including John, who was briefly Governor of Ceylon.


Extracted from a history of the 42nd Regiment:
Sir James Douglas accompanied the Expedition to South America under Gen. Craufurd on the Quarter-Master-Generals Staff, and was engaged in the attack on Buenos Ayres. Subsequently in the same capacity he proceeded to Portugal with the Expedition under Sir Arthur Wellesley : was senior officer of the Quarter-Master-Generals Department on the landing of the army ; and was present at the battles of Roieia, Vimiera, and Corunna. Joined the Portuguese army with the command of a Regiment in 1800 : was present at the passage of the Douro, and battles of Busaco. Fuentes d’Onor, Salamanca, and the Pyrenees (wounded); after which he obtained command of the 7th Portuguese Brigade, and commanded it in the battles of the Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, and Toulouse (twice wounded, occasioning the loss of a leg). Sir James has received the Gold Cross and three Clasps for Busaco, Salamanca, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, and Toulouse.




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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024