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Doc. 82.-operations at West-Bay, Florida.


Report of Admiral Bailey.

United States flag-ship Dale, Key West, March 8, 1864.
Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:
sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith the reports of acting volunteer Lieutenant W. R. Browne, giving the details of two expeditions lately sent out from the United States bark Restless, to destroy certain newly-erected salt-works, the property, as he states, of the rebel government. The object of the expedition was, in each instance, successfully accomplished.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. Bailey, A. R. Admiral, Commanding E. G. B. Squadron.

United States bark Restless, St. Andrew's Bay, Florida, February 17, 1864.
sir: I have the honor to make the following report:

Learning that the rebels had erected new government salt-works, on West-Bay, on the site of the old salt-works destroyed by us in December, and that they had a force of fifty men armed and stationed there for protection, I fitted out the first cutter, manned with thirteen men, under charge of Acting Ensign James J. Russell, with orders to proceed up the Gulf coast twenty miles, and march inland seven miles, to attack them in the rear, while Acting Ensign Henry Edson, with ten men, in command of the second cutter, would proceed by the inside passage and attack them in the front at the same time.

The expedition was entirely successful, the works being abandoned on the appearance of our men. Messrs. Russell's and Edson's parties joined at the appointed time, and immediately proceeded in the destruction of every thing connected with the manufactories, consisting of twenty-six sheet-iron boilers, averaging eight hundred and eighty-one gallons; nineteen kettles, averaging two hundred gallons, making an aggregate of twenty thousand seven hundred and six gallons, which cost in Montgomery five dollars and fifty cents per gallon. These boilers and kettles were cut up or broken to pieces. Some six hundred bushels of salt were thrown into the bay, all the chimneys and furnaces hauled down, and every thing rendered completely useless for any further operations.

Seven slaves fled to us for protection, and assisted in the destruction of this establishment, which had only been in operation ten days. This work covered a space of half a square mile, the boilers and kettles alone costing one hundred and forty-six thousand eight hundred and eighty-three dollars. Our party returned to the ship next day, bringing seven contrabands and six shot-guns. You will please find inclosed a drawing of the boilers and kettles.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. R. Browne, Acting Master Commanding. To Acting Rear-Admiral Theodorus Bailey, Commanding E. G. B. Squadron.

United States bark Restless, St. Andrew's Bay, February 29, 1864.
sir: I have the honor to make the following report:

Having gained information that a large barge would leave the Welappo River on or about the eighteenth instant, for East-Bay, with all the materials on board necessary for erecting a large salt-work, and, on her return, intended to bring back a cargo of salt, (her capacity one thousand five hundred bushels,) I fitted out the second cutter, with eleven men, under charge of Acting-Ensign Henry Edson, and gig, with seven men, under charge of Master's Mate F. Grant, to effect her capture on her passage down, and with orders, if after waiting five days and not seeing the barge, to land and destroy all the salt-works in the vicinity.

According to my instructions, the boats left the ship at eight P. M. on the seventeenth instant, and proceeded to a bayou on the south-west side of East-Bay, selected as a place of ambush, and which the barge must necessarily pass. After lying in wait the appointed time, and seeing no appearance of the barge, the men were landed, and destroyed all the works at hand, sixteen in number, among which were some of the largest government salt-works ever erected in Florida, the whole of which were successfully destroyed, consisting of five large steamboat-boilers and twenty-eight kettles, together with sixteen log houses, one flatboat, a large quantity of salt, vats, tanks, and other materials connected with the manufacture of this article. After destroying [385] the above, they returned to the ship, bringing with them a contraband found at this place.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. R. Browne, Acting Master Commanding. To Acting Rear-Admiral Theodorus Bailey, Commanding E. G. B. Squadron, Key West, Fla.

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