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William Douglas, Colonel of the 6th Regiment, Connecticut






william douglasWilliam Douglas (January 27, 1742 – May 28, 1777) was an American military officer who led regiments from Connecticut during the American Revolutionary War.

The son of John Douglas and Olive Spaulding, he was born in Plainfield, Connecticut. At sixteen years of age Douglas began his military career as a soldier in the French and Indian War, rising to the rank of sergeant. Following the war, he became a shipmaster and worked in the maritime trades until the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, when he raised the 6th Company of the 1st Connecticut Regiment and became its captain.
Before the Revolution he had made a fortune.

Douglas took part in military campaigns along Lake George and Lake Champlain commanding ships in upstate New York and was stationed in Montreal. In 1776, he was promoted twice, first to major and then on June 20 as colonel of the Connecticut State Regiment, also known as the "Connecticut 5th battalion".

Early in 1776 he was Major in Colonel Ward's regiment, ordered to New York, and June 20th (2) he was commissioned Colonel of the 5th battalion, Wadsworth's Brigade. This battalion served on the right of the line of works during the battle of Long Island, August 27th, and was in the retreat to New York, August 29-30.

Douglas privately acknowledged in letters to his wife that his troops were often ill-equipped for battle, writing at one point that they “give me much fatigue and trouble.” During the landing of British troops at Kips Bay in New York City on September 15, 1776, Douglas’ troops retreated wildly in the face of the British attack. General George Washington, encountering the retreating troops, reacted angrily by flogging some of Douglas’ troops with his riding cane and declaring: “Are these the men with whom I am to defend America?”

Douglas and his regiment also participated in the Battle of White Plains on October 28, 1776. On January 1, 1777, he was commissioned as a colonel of the Connecticut 6th Regiment. However, his health deteriorated during the course of the war and he was forced to return to his home at Northfield, Connecticut, where he died on May 28, 1777.


By the time of his death, most of the fortune he acquired as a merchant was gone.

Hannah Mansfield DouglasCol Douglas married, 5th July 1767, Hannah, daughter of Stephen Mansfield, of New Haven, where she was born 17th Nov 1747, dying in Northford, 22 May 1825.

They had 4 children:

Olive, b 25 Mar 1768. Married Solomon Fowler, and had daughter Charlotte Fowler (1), who married missionary Dwight Baldwin (1798–1886), and had several other notable descendants.
William, b 23 Feb 1770. Married Sarah Kirtland
Hannah, b 12 Apr 1772. Married Amos Dutton
John, b 24 Mar 1775. d 20 Feb 1784 

Douglas' grandson Benjamin Douglas was a manufacturer, Mayor of Middletown, Connecticut, and lieutenant governor of Connecticut in 1861-62.

His brother, John Douglas, was commissioned lieutenant colonel early in the war, rose to the rank of colonel, and finally to that of general, and served with distinction throughout the war.

William Douglas died in 1858.




Coat of Arms of William Douglas
As found in Crozier's General Armory. 1904




Any contributions will be gratefully accepted

1. Charlotte Fowler Baldwin (November 7, 1805 – October 2, 1873) was an American missionary. She was a member of the Fourth Company of missionaries sent to the Hawaiian Islands by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
Charlotte Fowler married Dwight Baldwin in 1830. They had eight children together, all born in Hawaii. Six survived her, among them malacologist David Dwight Baldwin and businessman Henry Perrine Baldwin. Her sons-in-law included Samuel Mills Damon and William DeWitt Alexander. Charlotte Fowler Baldwin died at Punahou in 1873, aged 68 years, after a long illness. Her grave is in Kawaiahaʻo Church cemetery.

2.  On June 20th, Douglas received his commission as colonel of the 5th battalion in Wadsworth’s brigade. Money to provide for equipment, supplies, and uniforms was scarce to non-existent. Each commander of individual units did what they could to prepare their men to fight in the coming battles. Douglas, a passionate and able soldier, had the financial means and spent freely, digging into his own pockets and advancing the funds to equip his men for the hardships he knew lay ahead. What quickly became known as the Douglas State Militia, raised from the New Haven Connecticut region, numbered 506 men by the time they arrived in New York City to reinforce Washington’s army busy preparing for an expected British invasion of the city and Long Island.''......''


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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024