Notable Forest Conservator of South India
General Douglas Hamilton (8 April 1818 – 20 January 1892) was a British Indian Army officer, gazetted to the 21st Regiment of the Madras Native Infantry from 1837 to 1871. He was a well known surveyor of the early British hill stations in South India and a famous sportsman, shikari, big-game hunter and trophy collector. He was an acute observer of nature and a gentleman.
In 1834 Douglas Hamilton went to the East India Company's Addiscombe Military Academy, and received his commission in the East India Company's Army in 1837, being gazetted to the 21st Regiment of the Madras Native Infantry. He embarked at Portsmouth in the "Duke of Argyle" on September 1 of the same year, arriving in the Madras Roads on December 14. His regiment was sent to Kulladghee in the Bombay Presidency to replace one which had gone to the front in the first Afghan Campaign. In 1846, he went with his regiment to Singapore, and was fortunate to obtain three months' leave in 1848 to visit the Island of Java for hunting. In 1849, he visited England on furlough and returned to India in 1852.
Douglas was very interested in forest conservation in South India, and often visited his old friend General James Michael who was organizing an experimental forest conservancy in the Annaimalai Hills. He was appointed to temporarily manage the conservancy when Michael returned to England on sick leave in 1854. He showed great aptitude for these new forestry duties. In 1857 Michael was again ill and had to relinquish the work altogether. Douglas succeeded permanently to the appointment and for the three years was in charge of the Annaimalai forests, supplying teak lumber for shipbuilding at the Bombay Dockyard. During this period he also became Assistant Conservator of Forests under Dr. Hugh Francis Cleghorn who established the Madras Forest Department and whose work led to the establishment of the Forest Department of India. In 1860 he went with his regiment to Hong Kong and returned to Madras in February, 1861.
Promotion Profile from the Quarterly Indian Army List 1891
1. Ensign 01 Jan 1934
2. Lt 12 Jun 1837- (arrived in Madras)
3. Capt 31 Jan 1838
4. Major 02 Mar 1847
5. Lt Col 29 Jun 1853
6. Col 01 Jan 1862
7. Maj Gen 01 Jan 1867
8. Lt Gen 01 Oct 1877
Gen 01 Dec 1888
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Comment: One wonders what the salary and pay scales of sepoys and Officers were during the British era? Conservation and preservation of natural resources must be foremost in the mind of Military personnel.
DESA E- Newsletter Mar 2017
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