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[205] vessel. The engagement took place on Sunday night, the twenty-second instant, and the Ottawa remained at anchor off Brown's Landing till the afternoon of the twenty-fourth, when the messenger (referred to in Lieutenant-Commander Breese's report) arrived, bringing the information from General Gordon that all had been accomplished, and that the General had sent word to the Columbine to return.

From Lieutenant Commander Breese I learn that the pilot of the Ottawa (one of the best on the river) declined to take the Ottawa farther up the river than Brown's Landing; not on account of the depth of water, but on account of the narrowness of the channel, and the impossibility of making the turns in it with a vessel of the Ottawa's length. It would, therefore, seem that Lieutenant-Commander Breese literally obeyed my orders, which were to go as far up the river as possible.

By the report of Colonel W. H. Noble, commanding United States forces on the east side of the St. John's, you will learn that the Columbine was captured on Monday night by the enemy at Horse Landing. This landing is distant by the river some five miles above Brown's Landing, where the Ottawa was then at anchor. Lieutenant-Commander Breese, and his executive officer, Acting Master Gamble, state that they heard nothing which led them to believe that the Columbine was engaged with the enemy. This they account for by the dense woods intervening, and thus preventing the sound of the guns reaching them.

General Gordon informed me to-day that he expected the men who had escaped from the Columbine, and who had arrived at St. Augustine, to reach Jacksonville this evening, and I regret that they have not, as I was anxious to see them, and get their statements in relation to the capture of the Columbine, that I might transmit them to you for your information. Colonel Noble has sent General Gordon statements from two of those who escaped from the Columbine, and they are to the effect that she was on her way down the river, and that when near Horse Landing she commenced shelling the woods in that vicinity; soon after opening fire, the enemy opened fire from four pieces of artillery, her rudder chains being shot away at the first discharge, and that she ran aground; that she fired on the enemy, and, from the account referred to, surrendered after being under fire from one hour to three hours; these men report several killed and some eight wounded and five men drowned. It will be more satisfactory to you to have the statements of those who have escaped, and at the earliest moment possible I will examine them, and transmit to you their statements.

I regret exceedingly the loss of the Columbine, but I did not, under the pressure of the call made upon me, feel that I could do otherwise than to cooperate to. the utmost to save our forces, threatened as they were, and which we had reason to believe would be captured if vigorous and prompt assistance were not rendered. I have proposed to General Gordon to send out a flag of truce for the purpose of learning everything we can in relation to the capture of the Columbine, and this will be done at the earliest moment deemed advisable; but as the General intends to move against the enemy on the morning of the first of June, he seems to think it better to delay taking a step of this kind till he has accomplished his movement. The rebel force in front is said to be weak, and I trust he will succeed in inflicting a serious blow on the enemy.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

George B. Balch, Commander, and Senior Officer present. Rear-Admiral J. A. Dahlgren, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron off Charleston, S. C.

Report of rear-admiral J. A. Dahlgren.

flag-steamer Philadelphia, off Morris Island, June 18, 1864.
Sir: I transmit herewith a report from Commander Balch, giving some particulars of the capture of the Columbine. There is always some satisfaction. in knowing that when a vessel is lost every effort has been made to prevent it by a stout defence. Of course it is impossible to be certain of all the facts until they are developed by a court of inquiry, which can only be instituted when a sufficient amount of evidence is obtained.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, commanding S. A. B. Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.

Additional report of Com. G. B. Balch.

United States steam-sloop Pawnee, off Mayport Mills, Florida, June 12, 1864.
Admiral: I have the honor herewith to transmit the statement of Drover Edwards, (landsman,) lately attached to the Columbine. He escaped from that vessel after she surrendered, but before the rebels took possession. He is intelligent, and gives the subjoined statement clearly and with every appearance of truth. From his statement I rejoice to believe that the honor of the navy was fully and gloriously maintained; and though we have to regret the loss of a very useful vessel, still it is gratifying to know that she was in the performance of most important service, viz., the assistance of our troops, which were in imminent danger of being cut off by the enemy.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

George B. Balch, Commander, United States Navy. Rear-Admiral J. A. Dahlgren, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron off Charleston, S. C.

Statement of Drover Edwards, (landsman,) late attached to the Columbine, who escaped by swimming to the East side of the St. John's on the Twenty-Third day of May, 1864, the day of the engagement of the Columbine with the rebel battery at horse Landing, on the St. John's River, Florida.

the Columbine arrived at Volusia bar at half past 11 P. M., on Sunday night, the twenty-second instant. Next morning a boat was sent to communicate with our troops at that post; found all safe. At noon Monday, twenty-third

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