Born 1776 Died 1861
Sir Howard Douglas, baronet, younger son of Admiral Sir Charles Douglas, was born at Gosport in 1776, and entered the Royal Military Academy in 1790. He was commissioned second lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in 1794, becoming first lieutenant a few months later. In 1795 he was shipwrecked while in charge of a draft for Canada, and lived with his men for a whole winter on the Labrador coast. Soon after his return to England in 1799 he was made a captain-lieutenant, and in the same year he married. In his regimental service during the next few years, he was attached to all branches of the artillery in succession, becoming captain in 1804, after which he was placed on half-pay to serve at the Royal Military College.
Douglas was at this time (1804) appointed to a majority in the York Rangers, a corps immediately afterwards reduced, and he remained on the roll of its officers until promoted major-general. The senior department of the R.M.C. at High Wycombe, of which he was in charge, was the forerunner of the Staff College. Douglas, since 1806 a brevet lieutenant-colonel, served in 1808-1809 in the Peninsula and was present at Corunna, after which he took part in the Walcheren expedition.
In 1809 he succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his half-brother, Vice-admiral Sir William Henry Douglas. In 1812 he was employed in special missions in the north of Spain, and took part in numerous minor operations in this region, but he was soon recalled, the home government deeming his services indispensable to the Royal Military College. He became brevet colonel in 1814 and C.B. in. 1815. In 1816 appeared his Essay on the Principles and Construction of Military Bridges (subsequent editions 1832, 1853); in 1819, Observations on the Motives, Errors and Tendency of M. Carnot's System of Defence, and in the following year his Treatise on Naval Gunnery (of which numerous editions and translations appeared up to the general introduction of rifled ordnance). In 1821 he was promoted major-general.
Douglas's criticisms of Carnot led to an important experiment being carried out at Woolwich in 1822, and his Naval Gunnery became a standard text-book, and indeed first drew attention to the subject of which it treated. From 1823 to 1831 Sir Howard Douglas was governor of New Brunswick, and, while there, he had to deal with the Maine boundary dispute of 1828. He also founded Fredericton College, of which he was the first chancellor. On his return to Europe he was employed in various missions, and he published about this time Naval Evolutions, a controversial work dealing with the question of breaking the line (London, 1832).
From 1835 to 1840 Douglas, now a G.C.M.G., was lord high commissioner of the Ionian Islands, where, amongst other reforms, he introduced a new code of laws. In 1837 he became a lieutenant-general, in 1840 a K.C.B., in 1841 a civil G.C.B., and in 1851 a general. From 1842 to 1847 Douglas sat in parliament, where he took a prominent part in debates on military and naval matters and on the corn laws. He was frequently consulted on important military questions. His later works included Observations on the Modern System of Fortification, etc. (London, 1859), and Naval Warfare Under Steam (London, 1858 and 1860). He died on the 9th of November 1861 at Tunbridge Wells. Sir Howard Douglas was a F.R.S., one of the founders of the R.G.S., and an honorary D.C.L. of Oxford University. Shortly before his death he declined the offer of a military G.C.B.
See S. W. Fullom, Life of Sir Howard Douglas (London, 1862), and Gentleman's Magazine, 3rd series, xii. 90-92.
Being the entry for DOUGLAS, SIR HOWARD in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.