Saturday, July 8, 2017

Colonel Thomas Dougan, our 6th Great-Uncle in the American Revolution

Colonel Thomas Dougan - our 6th Great-uncle

I've written about North Carolinian James Dougan (1754-1837), our 5th great-grandfather, and his service as a rebel major, promoted to colonel, in the American Revolutionary War HERE.  Because the Dougans were a close-knit clan, it's appropriate that our family tree include other Dougans. My previous blog concerned the cold-blooded hangings by American Tories of two patriotic Dougan cousins in South Carolina HERE. The present blog is about James Dougan's older brother, Colonel Thomas Dougan (1746-1795), and what we know of his service in the war. He was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, after his grandparents, father (Thomas Hill Dougan (1719-1769)), uncles and a sister arrived from northern Ireland. In about 1763, with his parents and some brothers, Thomas moved to what became Randolph County, North Carolina. He must have taken up land near his parents' holdings (his father purchased 520 acres at Deep River that year). Thomas didn't marry until 1782/3, and then to a girl 20 years his junior, Isabell Sharp, who was born in 1766 in North Carolina after her family moved down from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, perhaps with the Dougans. Her older sister, Hannah (b. 1760 in Lancaster County) married out 5th great-grandfather James Dougan in 1780. It appears Thomas looked around and discovered Isabell had grown up. The Sharp family also had come from northern Ireland and the families may have been of long acquaintance.

Paxton Presbyterian Church in present-day Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, where the Dougans worshiped.

When Randolph County was formed from Guilford County in 1779, Thomas Dougan was a captain of the militia,  promoted to major the following year. 
Randolph County, North Carolina
Some say Thomas Dougan's war service resembles the plot of "The Patriot." Perhaps we should all watch that movie again. It's difficult to understand the circumstances Thomas Dougan fought in in without some insight into the activities of the American Tory, Colonel David Fanning HERE.

Fanning was notorious for his savagery, displayed in his own writings, The Narrative of Col. David Fanning:
. . .[We] then proceeded on to their Col. Collier [cousin of Thomas Dougan] belonging to the said county of Randolph and on our way we burnt several Rebel Houses, and catched several prisoners, the night coming on and the distance to the Said Colonel's was so far it was late before we left there.  He made his Escape having Recd 3 Balls through his shirt, but I took care to Destroy the whole of his plantation. I then pursued our Route and came to one Capt John Bryan and Other Rebel officer, which I told him if he would come out of the house I would Give him a parole, which he Refused saying that he had taken a parole from Lord Cornwallis, swearing by God he had Broke that and said he would also Break our Tory Paroles, with that I Immediately ordered the house to be Set on fire, which was instantly done, and as soon as he see the flames of the fire increasing he called Out to me and desired me to spare his house for his wife and Children's sake and he would walk out with his arms in his hands. I immediately answered him that if he would walk out that his house and property should be saved for his wife and children, which he came out, and when he came out he Said here Damn you, here I am, with that he Received two Balls, the one through his head and the other through his Body--he came out with his Gun cocked and sword at the same time--the next day following being the 13th March was their Election day to appoint Assembly men and was to meet at Randolph Court house, which I proceeded on in Order to see the Gentleman Representatives, their Getting intelligence of my coming, they Immediately Scattered which I prevented their doing anything that day---from thence I pursued on to one Major Dugins ]Thomas Dougan] House or Plantation and Destroyed all his property, and all the Rebel Officers property in the settlement for the distance of 40 miles . . .
. . . [Governor Burk] ordered all the Light horse to Depart from their Different Stations till they had received Orders from the Governor and Council, as I was also Obliged to lay neutral until--receiving their answer, which was to be upon terms of honour between Both Sides, with which the Different Captains Commanding the Rebel Light Horse wrote to me respecting the same. . . 

[Thomas Dougan's letter to Fanning]  Sir, I Received your Letter which Gives me great Satisfaction to hear that you and Some of the Officers have come upon terms of peace, which is all I would Crave, but I Should be glad that for one of the Officers in Company should meet you and have some Conversation together, and be upon honour, and if we can come upon terms agreeable to both. I Should Immediately march my Company home. So I will be at Mr Mullins this Evening at two O'Clock and if you will meet and Converse across the River or any other place you will Choose. 
I am Sir Your Obt
Thomas Dougan, Capt of Light horse
April 12th 1782                                                    

[Note: This letter must be from Fanning's own collection, but Dougan should have been a major by this date. See below]

Summary of Thomas Dougan's service on the website, Patriot Leaders of North Carolina:
- In early 1776, Thomas Dougan was a known Captain under Lt. Col. James Martin in the Guilford County Regiment of Militia. His company was too late to participate in the battle of Moore's Creek Bridge or the subsequent rounding up of Loyalist prisoners. It is very likely that he was commissioned as a Captain as early as September of 1775, but this Author has found no definitive evidence thereof.
- On February 2, 1779, the NC Provincial Congress created Randolph County out of Guilford County, and soon thereafter Capt. Thomas Dougan reported to Col. John Collier (a relative) of the newly-created Randolph County Regiment of Militia.
- In September of 1780, Capt. Thomas Dougan was assigned to Col. William Richardson Davie in the newly-created NC State Cavalry-Western District. Capt. Thomas Dougan led his company at the battle of Charlotte on September 26, 1780. HERE   This unit was disbanded in December of 1780, and upon his return to his old regiment he was promoted to Major under Col. John Collier (apparently a relative).
- Maj. Thomas Dougan led a detachment of the Randolph County Regiment of Militia at the battle of Eutaw Springs, SC on September 8, 1781. HERE
- Sometime during late September of 1781, the Loyalist Col. David Fanning captured Maj. Thomas Dougan (probably on his way back from the battle of Eutaw Springs, SC) and took him to Wilmington, where he was retained until the British evacuated the town on November 13, 1781. Prisoners were simply left behind as the British marched out of the town and boarded their troop ships. (Note: There is a story that he was to be hanged, but Tories who were his neighbors interceded)
- In March of 1782, Maj. Thomas Dougan led a small detachment of the Randolph County Regiment of Militia against the Loyalist Col. John Elrod and two of his men at the skirmish known as the Forks of the Yadkin. Col. Elrod and one man were hanged after their capture.
- In mid-1782, Thomas Dougan was promoted to Lt. Colonel in the Randolph County Regiment of Militia under Col. James Dougan (our 5th great-grandfather) who had recently been promoted due to the resignation of Col. John Collier.
- In the 2Q of 1783, Thomas Dougan was promoted to second Colonel, alongside Col. Edward Sharpe (either the Dougan brothers' father-in-law or brother-in-law), in the Randolph County Regiment of Militia, replacing Col. James Dougan, who had recently resigned. He retained this position until the end of the war later in 1783.
- Thomas Dougan, the son of Thomas Hill Dougan and Mary Kerr (our 6th great-grandparents) was born in 1746 in Lancaster County, PA. In 1782, Thomas Dougan married Isabella Sharp, and they had six known children - Sarah, Thomas S., Mary, Eleanor, Jean (Jane), and Washington. He died on September 7, 1795 in Randolph County, NC.

After the war Thomas Dougan served in the North Carolina state senate in 1783, 1784 and 1788 and was a delegate to the constitutional convention of 1788. He donated 100 acres for the site of the Randolph County court house in what became Ashboro.

The Guilford Battle Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution has placed a marker on the grave of Thomas Dougan in 2006.

In his will, dated 30th day of August 1795 (he must have known he was dying at a rather early age, his wife then pregnant with their last child, Thomas, born December 1795), he leaves his interest in his "lands lying in the Western Territory" (bounty lands granted for his war service) to his brother Robert Dougan, two Sharp relatives and a Martin, to dispose of the land.  And that land in Tennessee will play a role in a future blog.

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