(1830 - 1862)
Home State: Georgia
Education: University of Georgia, Class of 1848
Command Billet: Brigade Commander
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: Lawton's Brigade
By 1852 he was practicing law in Cuthbert, Randolph County, GA and in 1860 he was a wealthy 29 year old attorney there in partnership with his older brother Eugenius. He was an unsuccessful Whig candidate for the US Congress in 1860, then a delegate to Georgia's succession convention of 1861.
In February 1861 he was Captain of the Randolph Volunteers, a local cavalry unit which became Company E of the 13th Georgia Infantry on 19 June. He was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment on 8 July 1861 and was elected Colonel on 2 April 1862 (to date from 1 February) on the death of Colonel Walton Ector. He took command of Lawton's Brigade at Second Manassas on 29 August after General Ewell was wounded and Lawton assumed command of the Division.
On the Campaign
He commanded the Brigade at the capture of Harpers Ferry, VA on 15 September and at Sharpsburg on the 17th, where he was killed in action just south of the Miller Cornfield that morning.
A letter to the Savannah Weekly Republican about 3 weeks after the battle relayed the observations of an unnamed member of Company H of the 13th Georgia Infantry:
Colonel Douglass repeatedly passed up and down the line, encouraging the men, and directing them to keep cool and aim well ... Col. Douglass was killed about 9 o'clock. Previous to that, he had been wounded in the region of the stomach, but refused to leave the field. Afterwards he was struck by a ball in the breast, and falling, he was raised up, when a shell burst near him, and mutilated one of his legs dreadfully.Another newspaper narrative, also second-hand, from "An Eye Witness" printed in 1884 says:
In a very few moments Colonel Douglass was struck with a canister shot, as he stepped, under the instep, the shot passing out through the heel. He was picked up by some of the men, one being a member of the same company to which I belonged, and from whom I that day received a statement of what afterward occurred. They carried him some distance and stood him down to mend their hold so they might carry him with more ease to him and themselves, and while he was standing on one foot holding to them, he was struck in the left side of the abdomen, the ball passing through him, and from the nature of the wound, they all knew it must be fatal.A much later account by Pvt. Isaac G. Bradwell of the 31st Georgia related what he'd heard from men of his unit who were there:
Still, they took him up and carried him some distance; but his suffering was so intense, and strength failing so, he desired them to lay him down, the balls, as well as shot and shell, still falling around them; and these are his words, the last he uttered on earth:
"Lay me down, boys, and let me die; I had rather die on the battle-field than in the arms of my wife."
So he died ...
But Colonel Douglass is badly wounded, many of his men killed or disabled, and his line is very much weakened. Though wounded in several places and feeble from the loss of blood, he still rushes from regiment to regiment exhorting the men to hold their position, to shoot low, and make every cartridge count, for he knew that this was only the beginning of the struggle ...
Once more the brave Douglass is wounded, but he managed to stay on foot to encourage his men; and in spite of his wounds and the entreaties of his men, he insists upon remaining with them ...
... the few Confederates defending the position are beaten back step by step ... The eighth ball pierces the body of Colonel Douglass, and he falls helpless in the arms of his soldiers. He begs them to let him die on the battle ground with his men, declaring he would rather die there than in the arms of his wife at home.
The rest of the War
He was taken to Shepherdstown, VA and buried there after the battle, but was removed and returned home to Cuthbert sometime after 1 October 1862 "by his faithful negro body servant."
References & notes
His service from Henderson1 and his Compiled Service Records,2 via fold3. The battle narratives above from the Savannah (GA) Weekly Republican of 11 October 1862, the Blakely, GA Early County News of 29 May 1884, and the Confederate Veteran;3 thanks to Laura Elliott and Andy Cardinal for those references. Personal details from family genealogists, notably William Bailey Williford's Williford and Allied Families (1961), the US Census of 1860, the Catalogue of the Trustees, Officers, Alumni ... University of Georgia (1906), Livingston's Law Register (1852), the Field Guide, 4 and Allardice,5 who has his birth in 1820. His gravesite is on Findagrave.
He married Menla S Davis (later Swann, 1835-) in February 1854 and they had 4 children.
10/05/1830; Thomaston, GA
09/17/1862; Sharpsburg, MD; burial in Rosedale Cemetery, Cuthbert, GA
1 Henderson, Lilian, compiler, Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, 1861-1865, 6 vols., Hapeville (GA): Longino & Porter, 1959-1964, Co. E, 13th Regiment [AotW citation 154]
2 US War Department, Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, Record Group No. 109 (War Department Collection of Confederate Records), Washington DC: US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 1903-1927 [AotW citation 27665]
3 United Confederate Veterans, and United Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of Confederate Veterans, Confederate Veteran Magazine (1893-1932), 1893-01-00, Vol. 29 (1921), No. 9, pg. 379 [AotW citation 27667]
4 Reardon, Carol, and Tom Vossler, A Field Guide to Antietam: Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History, Places, and People, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016 [AotW citation 27668]
5 Allardice, Bruce S., Confederate Colonels, Columbia (Mo): University of Missouri Press, 2008, pg. 131 [AotW citation 27666]