Albert Douglass: Soldier Grey and Sailor Blue

Special thanks to Wm Lloyd Harris for sharing research and contributing portions of this post.

Albert Benjamin Douglass

In 1862, Albert Benjamin Douglass appeared as one of the deserters from the Berrien Minute Men, 29th Georgia Infantry. He actually had a quite colorful record of service, prompting reader Wm Lloyd Harris to write with additional details relating  “the rest of the story.”   Harris is a great great grandson of Albert B. Douglass.

Military service was something of a tradition in the Douglass family.  Albert’s father and four brothers served in the Indians Wars in Florida. Albert and all four of his brothers served in the Civil War.  Before the Civil War was over Albert B. Douglass enlisted with at least four different units, was discharged once, and deserted three times. He fought for both the North and the South, and served in the Army and the Navy.

At the start of the Civil War, Albert Benjamin Douglass joined a company of Berrien county men going forth to be mustered into the 29th GA Regiment at Savannah, GA. In fact, according to Harris, his grandfather may have enlisted even earlier in another militia unit.

“A. B. Douglass appears as a 2nd Lieutenant in Company H, 25th Battalion Provincial Guard Georgia Infantry Regiment a local militia unit. The fact that the unit is termed ‘provincial’ typified early temporary military formations awaiting formal recognition or organization.”

Albert Benjamin Douglass was born in 1833, probably in Hamilton County, FL. His father, Seaborn Douglass, was born in Montgomery County, GA about 1800 and came to  Hamilton County, FL in the late 1820s. Seaborn Douglass and his family appear in the 1830 census of  Hamilton County.  The Douglass place in Hamilton County, FL was apparently located about eight miles from the home of Captain Archibald McRae.

Abert Douglass’  four brothers, Allen D. Douglass, Burrell Douglass, William Douglass, and Robert Douglass, and his father, Seaborn Douglass,  all served in  the  Indian Wars 1835-1858.

By 1838, Seaborn Douglass had moved his family to Lowndes County, GA. County tax records show Seaborn Douglass was late to pay his poll tax that year, although no taxes were assessed for any land holdings or slaves in Lowndes County. Seaborn Douglass appeared in the 1840 Lowndes County census with his children;   an unknown daughter (b. 1821), Allen Dickerson Douglass (1822 – 1919), Burrell Douglass (1825 – September 8, 1884), William Riley Douglass (1830 – ca. 1895), Robert Douglas (1833-1862), Albert Douglas (1835 – ), Rose or Rosean  Douglass (1839 – 1905), and an unknown daughter (b. 1840), although no spouse is found in his household.  Seaborn Douglass is believed to have died about 1843 in Lowndes County, Georgia.

About 1851, Albert Douglass, then a young man of 19,  married Abigail Shaw. She was a daughter of Martin Shaw, Sr., who was a pioneer settler of Lowndes County.  Martin Shaw had been one of a handful of  residents  at old Franklinville, GA, first seat of government of Lowndes County, and had  served as Lowndes’ first Sheriff.

Albert and Abigail Douglass appear in the 1860 census of  Berrien County, Georgia.  Albert was enumerated as 28 years old, Abigail as 35.  Their daughter Francenia  Douglass listed  as age 6.  Also in the Douglass household was the seven-year-old boy William W Turner.  The Douglas place was near that of Abigail’s  father, Martin Shaw. Nearby were the farms of  Jonathan A. Knight, Thomas Giddens and of William R. Brodgon, where William H. Outlaw was residing.

CIVIL WAR SERVICE OF THE DOUGLASS BROTHERS

All five sons of Seaborn Douglass served in the Confederate States Army.

  • Allen D. Douglass
    Served in the 1st Battalion, Florida Special Cavalry, Company B.  This unit was part of Lieutenant Colonel Charles James Munnerlyn’s famous “Cow Cavalry,” which was detailed to protect the supply of Florida cattle to feed the Confederate Army.
  • William R. Douglass
    Served with the 1st Battalion Florida Special Cavalry, also known as the “Cow Cavalry,” alongside his brother, Allen Dickerson Douglas, during the Civil War.
  • Burrell Douglass
    Enlisted September 22, 1862 at Camp Fort, Waynesville, GA, with Company A , 24th Battalion, Georgia Cavalry, under the command of Captain T.S. Hopkins ( This unit  later merged with the 7th Georgia Cavalry, Company G). While the Battalion was stationed at Camp Lee, Bryan County, GA, Burrell and a number of other soldiers became dissatisfied with the leadership of Colonel Edward C. Anderson.  Burrell Douglass  deserted on May 21, 1863  and returned to his home and family in Wayne County, GA.  Descendants believe he deserted and returned home because his wife was about to give birth, and his company had received orders to go to Virginia. About a year later in March or April, 1864 he enlisted with another company,  Captain Mann’s “Satilla Rifles.”    As soon as his name hit the war department he was arrested  for his earlier desertion and placed in Olglethorpe Barracks in Savannah. On April 11, 1864 he was court-martialed and found guilty.  He was sentenced to be shot “by musketry.” However, the execution was suspended on May 30, 1864, by order of Major General Samuel Cooper (Cooper is credited for the preservation of Confederate service records after the war).  Douglass remained in custody until Jefferson Davis issued a pardon for Confederate deserters who resumed service.  Burrell’s records noted on November 19, 1864, “pardon and released to duty.” That was about the time Sherman was arriving in Savannah.  Burrell fought as an irregular in the Confederate Army (wherein an undisclosed injury was received) until the end of the war.  Buried at Mount Plesant Cemetery, Ware County, GA.
  • Robert Douglass
    Enlisted in the 7th Florida Infantry, Company B, on March 19, 1862. Died of “disease” in Knoxville, Tennessee, August 15, 1862. His wife, Elizabeth, received a widow’s pension as attested by Florida Confederate Pension Records. Buried in the Bethel Confederate Cemetery, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Albert B. Douglass in the Civil War

Records indicate Albert Douglass was enlisted in Berrien Minute Men, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment.   This was the second company of Berrien Minute Men to come forth from Berrien County, GA. This second company, organized in the fall of 1861, was successively known as Company B Berrien Minute Men,  Captain Lamb’s Company,  Company D 29th GA Regiment, and Company K 29th GA Regiment.  The company mustered into the 29th Georgia Regiment at Savannah, GA.   Months passed as  the regiment trained and served picket duty on the Georgia coast.  The Berrien Minute Men were stationed at a number of camps  on the coastal islands and marshes, first at Sapelo Battery, off the coast of Darien, GA, then in Chatham County, GA at Camp Tatnall, Camp Causton’s Bluff, Camp Debtford, Camp Mackey, and Camp Young.

Albert Douglass must have been among those men who chaffed at the defensive nature of these assignments. The only Regimental return on file for Albert Douglass, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment, shows that by December, 1862,  he was “absent without leave.”  In the following months. the 29th Georgia Regiment advertised a reward for his capture as a Confederate deserter.  Wanted notices were run in the Savannah, Georgia newspapers offering $30 dollars for his apprehension and giving his physical description as “32 years of age, 6 feet high, fair complexion, grey eyes, auburn hair.”   Among his fellow deserters were Elbert J. Chapman, who would be executed for desertion, and Benjamin S. Garrett, who was shot for being a Union spy.

  

Albert Douglas' regimental return for December 1862 shows him absent without leave;

Albert Douglas’ regimental return for December 1862 shows him absent without leave;

It appears that Albert Douglass must have left the Berrien Minute Men by the summer of 1862.  The research of Wm Lloyd Harris reveals that Albert Douglas(s) had actually deserted the 29th Georgia and enlisted in the 26th Georgia Infantry subsequently fighting with Army of Northern Virginia in Virginia. As early as June 1862 he appeared with the 26th Regiment, Company A, the Glynn Guards, in Richmond, Virginia.

Douglass was no doubt familiar with many men of the Glynn Guards and of the 26th Regiment. The  26th Regiment [originally called 13th Regiment] had mustered in at Brunswick, Georgia in the summer of 1861, completing its organization in October, 1861. Its companies were recruited in the counties of Charlton, Berrien, Glynn, Twiggs, Clinch, Ware, Coffee, and Wayne.  In fact, several companies of the 26th Regiment  had camped with the Berrien Minute Men  in July, 1861 at Brunswick, including the Glynn Guards, Piscola Volunteers, Seaboard Guards and Wiregrass Minute Men. The surgeon of the 26th was Edwin A. Jelks, who had been with the Brooks County company, the Piscola Volunteers, at Brunswick in 1861 during the same time the Berrien Minute Men were there.

After serving in the Department of Georgia at St. Simons Island and Savannah, the 26th GA Regiment moved to Virginia where it was brigaded under Generals A. R. Lawton, John B. Gordon, and C.A. Evans.

The 26th Georgia Regiment  and the rest of Lawton’s Brigade  experienced their first engagement at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill, sometimes known as the First Battle of Cold Harbor or the Battle of Chickahominy River. This battle took place on June 27, 1862, in Hanover County, Virginia, as the third of the Seven Days Battles.  John Jefferson Beagles was also at this battle, serving with the 61st Georgia Regiment in Lawton’s Brigade.

Albert Douglass  was admitted to Chimborazo Hospital, Richmond, Virginia, for dysentery, June 29, 1862.   Returned to duty, July 10, 1862.On August 14, 1862, he was admitted to Lovingston Hospital, Winchester, VA with a complaint of fever and convulsions.

Douglass returned to duty on August 27.  The following day, in the late afternoon and evening of August 28, 1862 the 26th Georgia Regiment suffered  horrific casualties at the Battle of Brawner’s Farm,  at Groveton, VA.    That same afternoon, The Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment  was engaged just about ten miles west of Groveton driving federal forces out of  Thoroughfare Gap through the Bull Run mountains, and taking up and occupying position.  These actions were a prelude to the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) August 29-20. During the battle, 0n August 29,  both  the 26th GA and the 50th GA regiments were in positions at Groveton. Among the men from the Ray City area serving with the 50th GA Regiment were Green Bullard, Fisher J. Gaskins, Lemuel Elam Gaskins, Joseph Gaskins,  John Jasper Cook and John Martin Griner.

Douglass’ regiment lost 37 killed and 87 wounded at Second Manassas.

On September 17, 1862 the 26th Regiment fought in the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam), again suffering heavy casualties. The regiment reported 6 killed, 49 wounded, and 6 missing at Sharpsburg.

Douglass was admitted to 1st Division, General Hospital Camp Winder on October 19, 1862 and transferred to Hod Hospital on December 23. He was back on the morning report of Winder Hospital on December 24, and then transferred to Ridge Hospital.  He was admitted to Receiving and Wayside Hospital (General Hospital No. 9)  on June 4, 1863 and the following day he was discharged from the Confederate States Army.

At least one man of the 26th GA regiment, perhaps it was Douglass, called himself  a friend of Old “Yaller” Elbert J. Chapman. Chapman, like Douglass, left the Berrien Minute Men to go fight with other units, but Chapman was executed for his desertion.

After being discharged, Albert Douglass returned home. On July 18, 1863 he joined Captain Stewart’s Independent Company at Lake City, Florida; he was mustered into Company E, 9th Regiment, Florida Infantry. He was transferred to Company H, 9th Regiment on October 1, 1863. Albert Doulass appeared in a series of units. In August,  1863 he served as Provost Guard.  In October, 1863 he was detached to serve guard duty, Signal Corps. In November, he was detached from Captain Stewart’s Company and transferred to the Signal Corps. He was present for duty from December 1863 to April 1864.  On April 30, 1864 he was detached to the Pioneer Corps.  Two months later, he deserted to surrender to Union Army forces.

After his surrender, Albert Douglass was transferred to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he pledged the Oath of Allegiance to the United States on November 26, 1864.  On December 5, 1864 at the age of 32, he enlisted for a two-year term in the Union Navy, as an Ordinary Seaman.  At the time of enlistment he was residing in Washington, Davies County, Indiana.  His place of birth was given as Atlanta, GA; his occupation listed as “farmer.”  His Physical description was recorded as brown eyes, sandy blonde hair, florid complexion,  5’11” tall with a scar on his left arm.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record

Douglass was initially assigned to “R. S. Cairo.” This ship is sometimes thought to be the ironclad gunboat USS Cairo, but the USS Cairo was sunk in 1862 during a U.S. Navy excursion in support of the campaign for Vicksburg, MS.  Actually, R.S. Cairo refers to the Navy Receiving Ship at Cairo, IL, where new recruits were mustered into the navy. This ship was the sidewheel steamer USS Great Western.  There are no known images of the Great Western.

After completing receiving, Albert Douglass was assigned as an Ordinary Seaman to the tin-clad USS Gazelle, January 14, 1865.  The Gazelle, also a sidewheel steamer, patrolled between the mouth of the Red River and Morganza, Louisiana, and convoyed transports. She was armed with six 12-pound rifled cannons.  There are no known images of the USS Gazelle.

Apparently, Albert Douglass was on active duty aboard the USS Gazelle a scant two days before once again falling to illness.  Aboard the Gazelle, Albert Douglass received the usual treatment for chronic diarrhea – a cocktail of Opium,  Lead Acetate,  and Tannic Acid –  to no effect.  This was followed by a three-day course of  Opium, Silver Nitrate, and Powdered Acacia – also to no effect.  Douglass was finally given an enema of five grains of Silver Nitrate in three ounces of  aqua (distilled water) “without any apparent beneficial results.”

Douglass was  sent to Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN.  Federal forces had occupied Memphis since 1862 and the city had become a major medical center.  “Wounded prisoners came by boat and wagon to be treated at hospitals that began to specialize as the war progressed.   Prior to the war the city had one hospital. By the end of the war, there were 15.  The Union used the hotels and warehouses of Memphis as a “hospital town” with over 5,000 wounded Union troops being brought for recovery.

According to the Records of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Department of the Navy, Douglass was transferred on February 7, 1865 with chronic diarrhea.   His sea bag contained his hammock, blanket, mattress, jacket, trousers, drawers, two flannel shirts, stockings, boots, handkerchief, and cap.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record-2-7-1865-hospital-ticket

Transcription of Hospital Ticket
7 Feb 1865
USS Gazelle
To W. Grier
Surgeon
You are hereby requested to receive Albert Douglass, Ordinary Seaman affected with chronic diarhea in the hospital under your direction and to provide for him accordingly according to the rules and regulations of the US Navy.
Receipt: 1 hammock, 1 blanket, 1 mattress, 1 jacket, 1 trousers, 1 drawers, 2 shirts flannel, 1 stockings, 1 boots, 1 handkerchief, 1 cap.
Respectfully, A.T.Crippen
Surgeon’s Steward in charge
Approved
Archy S. Palmer
Acting Ensign, Commanding

Albert Douglas hospital papers. Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN

Albert Douglas hospital papers. Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN

Transcription of Hospital Record describing his shipboard treatment prior to his admission to Memphis Hospital.
30 March 1865

Albert Douglass, Ordinary Seaman was born in the state of Georgia. Was admitted to sick list on the 21st of Jan 1865. Says he was affected with diarrhea two weeks before he reported to me. I do not know how he contracted the Disease as he was affected with it when he came aboard this Ship  Jan 19th. Ha been treated with plumbi acetas gr ii; Tannin gr iii; Opii Pulv gr SS; three times per day for three days.
Pulvi acaci gr iii; Opii gr i: Argenti nitros gr 1/12; every 24 hours for three days.
Enema argenti Nitras gr v to Agua 3i ounce without any apparent beneficial result.

A. T. Crippen
Surg’s Stew in charge
Have treated with stimulants ever since.

Federal military records show Albert Douglass deserted the Union Navy while in the hospital, on March 30, 1865.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record-3-30-1865-deserted

It appears that Albert never returned home to Abigail, and his whereabouts following his desertion from the US Navy in 1865 remain unknown. Abigail was last documented in the 1900 Lowndes County, Georgia, census in the household of John H. Godwin. second husband of her daughter Francine.  Francine’s first husband was Henry Clay Surrency. Abigail Shaw Douglass is believed to have died circa 1905. It appears that Abigail believed that Albert perished during the war as she identified herself as a widow for the remainder of her life.

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US Navy record also reflects that Albert was listed with an alternate name of Arthur Doyle, no doubt to deflect future trouble in the event he was captured by southern forces. (note that his initials AD remain a tie to his actual name).

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GEORGIA DOUGLASES WEBSITE

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William Guthrie and the Bloody Battle of South Mountain

As a young man, William James Guthrie lived in the area of Lowndes county that would be cut into Berrien County in 1856, and later into Lanier County. Many of the Guthrie family connection still live in Ray City and Berrien County, Georgia.  By 1860 William Guthrie had moved his family to Clinch County, where in 1862 he joined the Clinch Volunteers, Company G, 50th Georgia Infantry Regiment.  His brother, Samuel Guthrie, joined the 54th Georgia Regiment.

In the fall of 1862, the 50th Georgia Regiment suffered horrific casualties in the Maryland Campaign.  William Guthrie was killed September 14, 1862 at South Mountain near Boonesboro, Maryland. That was the day on which the 50th Georgia Infantry Regiment, and the rest of Drayton’s Brigade, was slaughtered at Fox’s Gap in the Battle of South Mountain.  The 50th GA Regiment suffered a casualty rate of 86% that bloody day, with 194 killed or wounded out of an effective force of about 225 men.  In Company I, the Berrien Light Infantry,  Mathew Hendley and Elisha B. Herring were among those killed; Richard P. Connell was mortally wounded; William Hartley and James H. Tison were missing in action; Lewis Marshall and Lemuel Gaskins were wounded and captured;  Randall McMillan was wounded.

By 3:00PM  Drayton’s Brigade arrived on the field. Drayton had initially deployed his brigade in an inverted L-shaped formation at the gap. The 550 men in his two South Carolina units were in the Old Sharpsburg Road facing south and the 750 soldiers in the three Georgia units were posted facing east at a stone wall overlooking a deep ravine some 200 yards east of the Wood Road. At 4:00PM Col. Drayton ordered his three veteran regiments to attack the Federals to the south. His two new regiments, the 50th and 51st Georgia, moved into the sunken road, also facing south to offer support. What Drayton did not know was that Orlando Willcox’s 3,600 man IX Corps division had arrived on the field and was massed ready to launch an attack just beyond the forest to the left front. The Federals charged northwest into the woods and pushed the Phillips Legion out of the woods into Wise’s field. Willcox’s Federals quickly reached the edge of the woods facing the 50th Georgia in the Old Sharpsburg Road. The 30th Ohio of Cox’s division had also charged forward south of Wise’s field and, in conjunction with Willcox’s troops now at the eastern edge of Wise’s field, forced the 3rd SC Battalion to spin 90 degrees and drop into the “protection” of the Ridge Road. To the east the 800 man 17th Michigan regiment of Willcox’s division, which had been sent by Willcox to get behind the Confederate’s left (eastern) flank, had moved into the field behind the Georgians. Having gained the rear of the enemy, the 17th Michigan changed their front facing south and charged the Georgians, stopping about 20 yards from the road and began to fire into the Confederates in the road. Most of the 350 casualties suffered by the two Georgia regiments occurred in the road in front of you, in a span of time lasting less than five minutes. The Federals had now almost surrounded Drayton’s men. The 45th Pennsylvania and the 46th New York were pouring in volleys from the east side of Wise’s field. The 30th Ohio was firing from the south end of the field and other elements of Cox’s division were working through the woods to the west. Meanwhile the 17th Michigan had moved around behind the Confederate left (eastern) flank and was charging up the fields north of the Old Sharpsburg Road. By 5:00Pm the last of Drayton’s Brigade was driven from the field. The entire brigade suffered a staggering 51% loss. –http://friendsofsouthmountain.org/foxsgaptrail.html

Old Sharpsburg Road, South Mountain, Maryland, GA

Old Sharpsburg Road, South Mountain, Maryland, GA

As terrible as the Confederate losses were at South Mountain, they were just a “bloody prelude” to the battle fought three days later at Antietam, September 17, 1862.  The remnants of the 50th Georgia Regiment experienced that day from the vantage point of the Lower Bridge over Antietam Creek, afterwards known as “Burnside’s Bridge.”

Antietam bridge, looking across stream. Sept. 1862. Gardner, Alexander, 1821-1882, photographer.

Antietam bridge, looking across stream. Sept. 1862. Afterwards known as Burnside’s Bridge. Gardner, Alexander, 1821-1882, photographer.

On the morning of September 17, 1862, this bridge was defended by the 2nd and 20th Georgia of Toombs’ Brigade and the 50th Georgia of Drayton’s Brigade. The 20th Georgia was on the high wooded bluff immediately opposite this end of the bridge; and the 2nd and 50th Georgia in open order, supported by one Company of Jenkins’ S.C. Brigade, continued the line to Snavely’s Ford. One Company of the 20th Georgia was was on the narrow wooded strip north of this point between the creek and the Sharpsburg Road. Richardson’s Battery of the Washington Artillery was posted on the high ground about 500 yards northwest and Eubank’s (Va.) Battery on the bluff north of and overlooking the bridge. The Artillery on Cemetery Hill commanded the bridge and the road to Sharpsburg.

At 9 A.M. Crooks Brigade of the Ninth Corps, moving from the ridge northeast of the bridge, attempted to cross it but failed. Soon after, the 2nd Maryland and 6th New Hampshire, of Nagle’s Brigade, charging by the road from the south were repulsed. At 1 P.M. the bridge was carried by an assault of Ferrero’s Brigade and the defenders, after a vain effort to check Rodman’s Division, moving by Snavely’s Ford on their right flank, fell back to the Antietam Furnace Road and reformed on the outskirts of the town of Sharpsburg.

Antietam, Md. Confederate Dead by a Fence on the Hagerstown Road, Antietam, Maryland,
Alexander Gardner, photographer,
September 1862.

Antietam, Md. Confederate Dead by a Fence on the Hagerstown Road, Antietam, Maryland

According to the National Park Service, Antietam was the bloodiest one day battle in American history: 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of savage combat on September 17, 1862. The Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s first invasion into the North and led to Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. =http://www.nps.gov/ancm/index.htm