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Saturday, September 06, 2003

Author of Westport Historical Society Book Killed in Accident

Damon G. Douglas, a professional surveyor who authored a book published last year by the Westport Historical Society marking the 225th anniversary of the British landing at Westport’s Compo Beach, has been killed in an accident in Greenwich.

Police said Douglas, 69, of Wilton, died Thursday while working inside a manhole on a private driveway examining pipes that connect the manhole to some catch basins. As he raised his head, he was struck by a sports utility vehicle, according to police.

Douglas was a senior surveyor for Redniss and Mead in Stamford. He was also a history buff, which led to his writing The Bridge Not Taken: Benedict Arnold Outwitted.Ӕ

Its publication last year was part of a week-long series of events by the Westport Historical Society marking the April 25, 1777, British landing at Compo Beach on a mission to destroy a cache of Revolutionary Army military stores in Danbury. Douglas was honored at a society reception.

Douglas’s work traces in meticulous detail the route taken by the 1,800-man force, under the command of William Tryon,  from Westport to Danbury and back again three days later.

Patriots, under the command of Benedict Arnold, closed in behind the British and attempted to block their return, first in Ridgefield and then on a bridge over the Saugatuck River in Westport on what is now Ford Road.

Douglas’s book explains how the British avoided what could have turned into a major disaster for them in the final hours of their incursion by avoiding the bridge where Arnold and his men were waiting.

Barbara Raymond of the Westport Historical Society worked closely with Douglas on the book for two years.

In his acknowledgments, he wrote that she was the first to suggest that his research should be published, proofed every page and refused to let me settle for partial answers.Ӕ

Raymond said today she was deeply saddened by his sudden passing and recalled his excitement and enthusiasm as they worked together on the book.

WeӒd go on field trips in his pickup truck, often driving to the top of Compo Hill tracing the British route, she told WestportNow. ԓHe loved discovering things and finding out when, where, and how they occurred.

Raymond, the societyԒs historian, said she and Douglas did not always agree on their research. The two of us agreed to disagree about one point whether the British went up North Compo or the Post Road,Ӕ she said. But it was his book so it got told his way.Ӕ

Raymond said Douglas, at her request, was working on an index for another Westport Historical Society publication project at the time of his death. We will miss him,Ӕ she said.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Presbyterian Church, 48 New Canaan Road, Wilton.


Posted 09/06/03 at 11:21 PM  Permalink


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