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Doc. 102.-boat-fight at Mosquito Inlet, Fla.


Commander Du Pont's report.

Flag-ship Wabash, off Mosquito Inlet, Fla., March 24, 1862.
sir: I have to report to the Department some casualties that have occurred to officers and men belonging to two of the vessels of my fleet — casualties as painful as they were unexpected; but the loss of gallant lives has expiated the error of judgment which enthusiastic zeal had induced.

The Department was informed, after the capture of Fernandina, that so soon as I should take possession of Jacksonville and St. Augustine, I would give my attention to Mosquito Inlet, fifty miles south of the latter, which, according to my information, was resorted to for the introduction of arms transhipped from English ships and steamers at the British colony of Nassau into small vessels of light draught.

I accordingly ordered the Penguin, Acting Lieut. Commanding T. A. Budd, and the Henry Andrew, Acting Master S. W. Mather, to proceed to this place — the latter to cross the bar, establish an inside blockade, capture any rebel vessels there, and guard from incendiarism large quantities of live-oak timber on the Government lands, cut and ready for shipment, to which the Department had called my attention.

On reaching here myself on the twenty-second, I was boarded by the executive officer of the Penguin, and informed that Lieut. Commanding Budd, with Acting Master Mather, had organized an expedition from the two vessels, and had moved southward through the inland passage leading into Mosquito Lagoon, passing Smyrna, with four or five light boats, carrying in all some forty-three men.

Soon after this report, which I heard with anxiety, the results were developed. It appears that after going some fifteen or eighteen miles, without any incident, and while on their return and within sight of the Henry Andrew, the order of the line being no longer observed, the two commanding officers quite in advance, landed under certain earthworks, which had been abandoned or never armed, now a dense grove of live-oak with underbrush. A heavy and continuous fire was unexpectedly opened upon them from both these covers. Lieut. Commanding Budd and Acting Master Mather, with three of the five men composing the boat's crew, were killed; the remaining two were wounded and made prisoners.

As the other boats came up they were also fired into, and suffered more or less. The rear boat of all had a howitzer, which, however, could not be properly secured or worked, the boat not being fitted for the purpose, and could, therefore, be of little use. The men had to seek cover on shore, but as soon as it was dark Acting Master's Mate McIntosh returned to the boats, brought away the body of one of the crew who had been killed, all the arms, ammunition, and flags, threw the howitzer into the river, passed close to the rebel pickets, who hailed, but elicited no reply, and arrived safely on board the Henry Andrew.

On hearing of this untoward event, I directed Commander Rogers to send off the launch and cutters of this ship to the support of the Andrew. The boats crossed the bar at midnight, and the next morning the vessel was hauled close up to the scene of the late attack, but no enemy could be discovered.

The bodies of Lieut. Budd and Acting Master Mather were received under a flag of truce. The commanding officer, a Capt. Bird, who had come from a camp at a distance, made some show of courtesy by returning papers and a watch, as if ashamed of this mode of warfare; for these were the very troops that, with sufficient force, means, and material for a respectable defence, had ingloriously fled from St. Augustine on our approach.

I enclose a copy of my instructions to Acting Lieut. Budd, the original of which was found on his person, and was one of the papers returned by the rebel officer.

Lieut. Commanding Budd and Acting Master Mather were brave and devoted officers. The former commanded the Penguin in the action of the seventh of November, and received my commendation. The latter, in the prime of life, was a man of uncommon energy and daring, and had no superior probably among the patriotic men who have been appointed in the navy from the mercantile marine.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant.

S. F. Du Pont, Flag-Officer Commanding South-Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.

Flag-ship Wabash, off St. Augustine, Florida, March 25, 1862.
sir: The following casualties occurred in the attack upon the gunboat expedition under Acting Lieut. Budd:

Acting Lieut. T. A. Budd, Penguin, killed; Jas. Marlow, (O. S.,) do. do.; Walter Burch, (O. S.,) do. do.; John Dennis, Master's Mate, do., wounded in shoulder; William Twaites, (O. S.,) do., wounded in the hand; Acting Master S. W. Mather, Commanding Henry Andrew, killed; Lewis Delous, (O. S.,) do. do.; John Bates, (S.,) do. do.; James Arnold, (S.,) do. do.; Wm. Brown, (O. S.,) do. do.; A. W. Kelsey, Acting Assistant Paymaster, do., wounded in hand; Walter Bradley, Acting Third Assistant-Engineer, do., wounded in forehead; Thomas Welch, (O. S.,) do., wounded and a prisoner; Henry C. Rich, (O. S.,) do. do.; James T. Allen, (O. S.,) do., wounded in thigh. [328]

I herewith enclose Dr. Clymer's report of the wounds received by Lieutenant Budd and Acting Master Mather.

Very respectfully, etc.,

S. F. Du Pont, Flag-Officer. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.

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