Special thanks to Wm Lloyd Harris for sharing research and contributing portions of this post.
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 Indian Wars in Florida between 1836 and 1858.
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.
Douglass Family in the Indian Wars
Albert 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.
In 1836, Seaborn Douglass and his son Allen Douglass mustered into Captain Peter W. Law’s Company of the 13th Regiment, First Brigade of the Florida Militia. Captain Law was the proprietor and post master of Law’s Store in Hamilton County (exact location unknown). Miltary records of the 13th regiment note that Seaborn Douglass was on foot. The company was ordered into service on June 15, 1836 at Camp Collins, Middle Florida. This was just one month before the Indian raid on William Parker’s place and the Battle of Brushy Creek in Lowndes County, just across the state line in Georgia. The enlistment was for six months, ending October 15, 1836.
On January 27, 1837 Seaborn Douglass mustered in at Fort Reed for six months service in Captain Francis J. Ross’ Company of the 1st Regiment, 2nd Brigade of Florida Mounted Militia (“Old Greys”). The fort was situated near present day Speer Grove Park, Sanford, FL according to a “Fort Reid” historic marker placed at the site. The marker indicates Fort Reid was established in 1840, but Florida Militia service records indicate a Fort Reed existed as early as 1837. There has been much debate over the name of Fort Reed, it being alternately known as Fort Read, and Fort Reid.
“The long-gone stockade dates to the days when the Army established Camp Monroe (later Fort Mellon) as the first of a string of forts that stretched to the gulf as part of the military’s effort to drive the Seminoles out of Florida and capture runaway slaves. Fort Reid was the nearest satellite stockade, just a few miles south. It was used as a commissary and soldiers camp along a portion of the mule team trail (Mellonville Avenue) that Gen. Zachary Taylor laid out to haul supplies to soldiers at Fort Maitland, Fort Gatlin (Orlando) and Fort Brook (Tampa).
Eight two-story frame homes were erected near Fort Reid. From a cupola at one of the larger homes, settlers sent signals to the fort if they saw Seminoles.
Whitner’s history of Mellonville, though, says the settlers sometimes considered the soldiers – many of them uncouth, rough militiamen – as much a menace as the Indians.
”The soldiers depredated the farms, turning their horses into the fields, killed cattle, exterminated poultry, robbed beehives, then overturned and destroyed them,” writes Whitner.
The soldiers also amused themselves by laying out race tracks west of Mellonville Avenue.”
On June 16, 1837, Seaborn Douglass and his son Allen D. Douglass, traveled the eight miles from their home to the place of Captain Archibald McRae (or McRay) where they were mustered into “Captain A. McRae’s Mounted Company of the 2nd Regiment of East Florida Volunteers, 2nd Brigade Florida Militia commanded by Col. William J. Mills. This unit entered into the service of the United States on the requisition of Major Thomas S. Jesup to serve for six months, unless sooner discharged.” The company was enrolled at Mineral Springs, FL and was reorganized July 20, 1837 into two companies, Seaborn and Allen Douglass being placed into Captain George W. Smith’s Company. Men of the Mounted Volunteers provided their own horses, and Seaborn’s mount was a Bay horse. Apparently, Seaborn’s horse died on December 13, days before the company mustered out at Fort Gilliland, FL. On December 18, 1837, Major S. Churchhill inspected the company of East Florida Mounted Volunteers at Fort Gilliland, “who are hereby honorably discharged from the service of the United States.”
In 1838, Allen Douglass was mustered back into service in Captain G. W. Smith’s Company of the Battalion of Middle Florida Mounted Volunteers, Major John L.Taylor commanding, from March 22, 1838 to September 23, 1838. The company was mustered in March 22, 1838 at Hamilton County, FL. Records note Allen Douglas was among those men absent at first muster and subsequent musters.
In 1839 the father, Seaborn Douglass, was mustered back into service in Captain Allen G. Johnson’s Company of Mounted Florida Volunteers Militia ordered into the service of the United States by General Zachary Taylor from September 6, 1839 to January 9, 1840. A. G. Johnson’s company mustered in at Camp Bailey, Jefferson County, FL, and mustered out at the same location on January 6, 1840.
Burrell Douglass also served in this unit from September 6 until November 30, 1839, according to the sworn affadavits of Captain Allen G. Johnson; of Lieutenant Hansford R. Alford; and of Private James Lee. Lt. Hansford R. Alford attested that Burrell Douglass rendered all service required, was well armed and mounted, and was discharged because there were more men in service than were authorized. Captain Johnson stated in 1846 that, contrary to his wishes, Burrell Douglass was discharged. Johnson reported that Douglass rendered good and efficient service and that he was discharged without pay.
In 1856, Allen D. Douglass and William Douglass went into Captain William H. Kendrick’s Independent Company of Mounted Florida Volunteers Militia ordered into the service of the United States for a term of six months on December 6, 1856 at Fort Broome and marched 40 miles to station at Fort Brooke, FL. At enlistment, William’s horse was appraised at $150 with $5 worth of equipment; Allen’s horse was a $75 dollar animal with $20 tack.
In 1857, Robert Douglass served in Captain Lucius A. Hardee’s Company, 1st Regiment of Florida Mounted Volunteers. The company was organized at Jacksonville, East Florida, in July 1857 and marched from there to Ocala, FL, the place of General Rendezvous.
William Douglas mustered into Captain Edward T. Kendrick’s Company of Florida Mounted Volunteers at Fort Brooke, FL, February 16, 1858. William deserted April 25, 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; no spouse is found in his household.
Children of Seaborn Douglass:
- unknown daughter (b. 1821)
- Allen Dickerson Douglass (1822 – 1919)
- Burrell Douglass (1825 – September 8, 1884)
- William Riley Douglass (1830 – ca. 1895)
- Robert Douglass (1833-1862)
- Albert Benjamin Douglass (1835 – )
- Rose or Rosean Douglass (1839 – 1905),
- unknown daughter (b. 1840)
Seaborn Douglass is believed to have died about 1843 in Lowndes County, Georgia.
- Albert Douglass: Soldier Grey and Sailor Blue
- Reward Offered for Confederate Deserters
- Camp Townsend
- Samuel Register and the East Florida Militia
- Secretary of War Disputes Indian War Claims of Levi J. Knight
- Levi J. Knight Reports Indian Fight of July 13, 1836
- Norman Campbell Collected Taxes, Fought Indians
- Young Johnson and the Florida Indian Wars
- Berrien Skirmishes, the Battle of Brushy Creek, and the Indian Maiden
- Martha Guthrie: Babe of the Indian Wars
- Riders of the Troupville Circuit: Tillman Dixon Peurifoy
- Henry Blair’s Account of the Skirmish at Cow Creek
- Skirmish at Troublesome Ford
- Final Report of General Julius C. Alford on Actions at the Little River and at Grand Bay, August, 1836
- Pennywell Folsom Fell at Brushy Creek