Doc. 91.-the capture of St. Mary's.
Report of Lieutenant Commanding Stevens.
reconnoissance up St. Mary's River, U. S. Gunboat Ottawa, March 7, 1862.sir: Upon the arrival of the Isaac Smith at St. Mary's, I proceeded in this vessel, under your instructions on a reconnaissance up the St. Mary's River, and reached a place called Woodstock Mills, about fifty miles from this place, landing at the plantation of a Mrs. Campbell, and that of a Mrs. Downes, called the Brickyard, and at Woodstock, owned and occupied by a Mr. Alburti, notifying those whom I met (which seemed to reassure them) of your intention to protect all peaceable citizens in their persons and property, and inviting those who had fled to return to their homes. I enclose herewith a copy of the communication I left with Mrs. Campbell and Judge Alburti, to signify the same to the people generally. Before leaving Woodstock Mills I learned through a negro that it was the intention of the rebels to cut us off with their light batteries and infantry of the Mississippi regiment which had been stationed here. When near the Brickyard, the enemy's rifle-men attacked us in force from both sides of the river. I opened upon them with our battery, using grape and canister, and small-arms, killing and wounding a large number. The fire was kept up from both sides of the river, (here about one hundred yards wide,) for about a mile, after which we saw nor heard anything more of them until just above the plantation of Mrs. Campbell, when discovering a large body of cavalry about one thousand two hundred yards ahead of us, I threw a few second eleven-inch shells among them, when they fled in great haste and confusion. Passing down, when about three miles further, just where it debouches into the marshes, we discovered in the ambush a body of the enemy, and before they had time to fire we gave them a round from the eleven-inch, loaded with canister, the two twenty-four pound howitzers, and the twelve-pound howitzer of the Wabash, (which I had taken on board before leaving,) which was worked admirably, as indeed all the other guns were. Very few of the enemy escaped this destructive fire. I enclose herewith a list of the casualties which occurred on board from the fire of the enemy, which was very accurate, as the various narrow escapes of both officers and men, and the numerous bullet-holes in the sides of the vessel, will testify. I am informed that some distance beyond our point I reached, there are large quantities of turpentine on board of two steamers. The steamers cannot escape. I saw also on the bank of the river the live-oak frame complete for a ship of one thousand eight hundred tuns, ready for shipment, and a schooner, in very good order, of about one hundred tuns; but as the river is very narrow, and the turns following each other in quick succession, sharp and abrupt, I did not think it advisable to attempt to tow down with so long a vessel. The live-oak abounds for many miles along the river. I am quite confident that our visit will be productive of good both to those well disposed and to our enemies, who have been taught a lesson they will not soon forget. From my observation,  such a thing as free speech among them is a tradition, and the reign of terror rules everywhere. Still those I saw were very grateful for the assurances given, and I doubt not many of them will avail themselves of our protection. Finally, permit me to commend to you the good conduct, uniform throughout, of both officers and men, and to thank, through you, Midshipman Pearson, of the Wabash, who commanded her cutter, for the valuable assistance he was always, in fire and out of fire, ready to render. Very respectfully,
T. A. Stevens, Lieutenant Commanding.
Capt. Stevens, of the United States gunboat Ottawa, is authorised by Flag-Officer Du Pont to assure the peaceable citizens living on the banks of the St. Mary's River, that they will be protected in their persons and property; that it is his desire they should return to their homes, where nobody will come near to harm them.
T. A. Stevens, Lieutenant Commanding.