Royal Naval Biography/M‘Dougall, John (b)
JOHN M‘DOUGALL (b), Esq.
A son of the late Patrick M‘Dougall, Esq. of Dunolly Castle, in the county of Argyle, by Louisa, youngest daughter of John Campbell, Esq. of Ashalader, a well known classical scholar, and sister to the late Generals Sir Alexander Campbell, commander-in-chief at Madras, and Archibald Campbell, governor of Fort Augustus, North Britain. His father’s family are the undisputed lineal representatives of M‘Dougall, Lord of Lorn, or of Argyle, and are the admitted chiefs of that sirname.
This officer was born at Edinburgh, in 1791; and entered the navy in Dec. 1802, as midshipman on board the Cruiser sloop. Captain John Hancock. In the course of the following year, he was five times in action with the enemy, between Calais and Flushing. In 1804, he was removed to the Doris 36, Captain Patrick Campbell, which ship, after being repeatedly engaged with land batteries, and capturing two French gun-vessels, was set on fire and abandoned near the mouth of the Loire, Jan. 15th, 1805, in consequence of having struck upon a sunken rock, in the vicinity of Quiberon, and sustained so much damage as to render it impossible to save her.
After this disaster, Mr. M‘Dougall joined the Hero 74, Captain the Hon. Alan Gardner, under whom he served in Sir Robert Calder’s action with the combined fleets of France and Spain, July 22d, 1805.
On the 18th Oct. 1806, Mr. M‘Dougall, then belonging to l’Unité frigate. Captain P. Campbell, stationed in the Adriatic, commanded one of that ship’s boats in an attack upon five vessels under a battery, near the town of Omago. Ten days afterwards, he assisted in storming a battery, and capturing several sail of merchantmen near Point Salvooy. On the 28th April 1807, he was present at the reduction of the island of St. Piedro de Niembo. On the 12th June following, he commanded a division of boats at the capture of several vessels in the river Po, and the destruction of three signal posts. On the 12th Jan. 1808, he participated in a successful attack upon a French privateer, near Ancona. On the 24th Mar. in the same year, l’Unité’s eight-oared cutter, under his command, and unassisted by any other boat, captured a privateer of 2 guns and 36 men, after a sharp engagement. On the 5th May, he was engaged in cutting out several vessels from under batteries. On the 4th June, he was second in command of the boats at the attack and capture of three Turkish ships and several coasting vessels, under Cape Palero, on which occasion the enemy made a desperate resistance, and did not yield until thirty Mahometans were slain, and several of the assailants killed and wounded. On the 12th Jan. 1809, he led to the attack of six vessels in the harbour of Vieste, where they were protected by two batteries, and secured by cables from their masts’ heads to the shore; which, together with their rudders being unshipped, rendered it necessary to abandon them after they had been fairly carried. On the 23d April, he commanded in an attempt to cut off some vessels full of troops, from the island of Fano, near Corfu, under a heavy fire of musketry from the shore. On the 30th July, the boats, again under his command, sustained considerable loss in cutting out two large merchantmen from under the fort of Calanova.
In addition to the above, Mr. M‘Dougall, while serving as master’s-mate and acting lieutenant of l’Unité, assisted at the capture of a French national xebec and three Italian brigs, each of the latter mounting sixteen brass 32-pounder carronades, and destined to become British sloops of war. Altogether he was eighteen times engaged with the enemy, and bore an active part in the storming of a fort and three batteries.
On l’Unité being ordered home, Mr. M‘Dougall was strongly recommended by Captain Campbell to Lord Collingwood, and for his conduct as a volunteer at the capture and destruction of a French convoy in the Bay of Rosas, Nov. 1st, 1809, he was promoted by his lordship into the Ville de Paris 110, from which ship, upon the demise of that gallant chief, he exchanged into l’Unité, then again on the Mediterranean station, under the command of Captain Edwin H. Chamberlayne. His first commission bears date Jan. 3d, 1810.
On the 4th July 1811, the light boats of l’Unité, under Lieutenant Joseph William Crabb, captured in Port Hercule, on the coast of Rome, the St. François de Paule, a brig of eight guns, partly laden with ship-timber, and Lieutenant M‘Dougall, in the launch, successfully co-operated with his messmate in bringing her out, under showers of grape, from a battery on the beach. Towards the end of Nov. following, while in charge of a large detained Austrian ship, and on his way to Malta, Lieutenant M‘Dougall fell in with three French men-of-war, when, “with a judgment and zeal which did him infinite credit,” he immediately resolved upon putting back, to acquaint the senior officer in the Adriatic that he had discovered the enemy. The result was the capture of la Pomone frigate, mounting 44 guns, with a complement of 322 men, and la Persanne of 26 guns and 190 men, both ships partly laden with iron and brass ordnance for the squadron and garrison at Trieste. His conduct on this occasion was highly eulogized both by the senior officer, (Captain Murray Maxwell) and his own commander. On the 16th June 1812, he commanded the boats of a frigate squadron at the capture and destruction of three vessels and several field pieces in a small port near Cape Otranto.
On the 22d. Dec. 1813, Lieutenant M‘Dougall was appointed first of the Leander 50, Captain Sir George Ralph Collier, under whose command he was several times in action with the enemy on the coast of North America. He served as third of the Superb 74, Captain Charles Ekins, and received two wounds at the memorable battle of Algiers, on which occasion he was the senior officer capable of carrying on duty at the close of that sanguinary conflict. In the spring of 1818, when his friend, Sir George Collier, was appointed commodore on the coast of Africa, he applied for him to be his first lieutenant, in the Tartar frigate; but a flag-lieutenancy being at the same time offered him by the late Rear-Admiral Donald Campbell, then just nominated commander-in-chief at the Leeward Islands, he, in accordance with the recommendation of the former distinguished officer, closed with the latter proposal, accompanied the Rear-Admiral to the West Indies, and was, on the occasion of his demise, advanced to the rank of commander, by commission dated Feb. 9th, 1820. In the preceding year, being at the island of St. Thomas during a hurricane, he saved the crew of a Danish vessel, after several unavailing attempts had been made from the shore; for which service he received the thanks of the King of Denmark, conveyed to him through the British Admiralty.
Commander M‘Dougall was appointed to the Nimrod 20, on the Lisbon station, Aug. 27th, 1833. In the beginning of 1834, the boatswain and thirteen of that ship’s crew unfortunately perished by the swamping of one of her boats, whilst employed in attempting to carry an anchor and cable to the Spanish frigate Lealtad, which had been driven on shore, in a gale of wind, near Santander, from whence Commander M‘Dougall returned to Plymouth on the 23d Jan., with intelligence of recent important political changes at Madrid. In June following, he accompanied the Stag frigate, having on board the Portuguese Infant, Dom Miguel, from the neighbourhood of Lisbon to Genoa.
This officer married, Aug. 22d, 1826, Sophia, only daughter of Lieut. Charles Sheldon Timins, R.N., many years commander of an East Indiaman. His elder brother was killed at the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo, in 1812. One of his younger brothers is in the army, and another in the law.