* * * On the 7th of February (received 8th) Brigadier-General Finegan reported by telegraph that five gunboats and two transports of the enemy had made their appearance in the St. John's, within five miles of Jacksonville, and on the next day announced the arrival at Jacksonville of eighteen vessels—gunboats and transports—the landing of the enemy, presumed in large force, and an immediate advance on the night of the 7th of February. General Gilmer was at once ordered to put in motion, to report to General Finegan, all the troops he had been previously ordered to hold in readiness for such an emergency. General Gardner, commanding in Middle Florida, was telegraphed to send to the imperilled quarter, with all possible celerity, every soldier he could spare. Colquitt's brigade was ordered from James Island to Savannah, with a light battery. General Finegan was advised of what was done, and instructed to do what he could with his means to hold the enemy at bay, and to prevent the capture of slaves; and at the same time I reported to you this hostile movement, and my intention to repel it, as far as practicable, with infantry to be drawn from Charleston and Savannah, but requested, in consequence of the very recent discharge of some five thousand South Carolina militia, that other troops should be sent to take their places and avoid danger to Charleston and Savannah. Scarcely had Colquitt's brigade begun to move, when the enemy, in anticipation, doubtless, of my attempt to reinforce Finegan, made a strong demonstration on John's Island. Though assured of the purpose of this movement, it assumed, however, so serious a form as to compel me to divert, temporarily, General Colquitt and three and a half regiments of his brigade, to reinforce General Wise, then confronted by at least two brigades of the enemy (about four thousand five hundred strong), pushed forward in advance of the Haulover, or bridge-way between John's and Seabrook's islands, and in addition several regiments of infantry were detached from Sullivan's and James islands, to be in readiness for the development of the enemy's purposes. On the night of the 11th ultimo I ordered all our batteries bearing on Morris Island to open a heavy simultaneous fire on that portion, as if a cover for an assault, and with the hope of forcing the enemy to withdraw from John's Island to the protection of his own works. This stratagem seems to have produced the desired effect, or assisted to make him abandon the movement on John's Island, and withdraw hastily before daybreak, thus releasing and enabling Colquitt's command to reach General Finegan in time to meet and defeat the enemy at Ocean Pond, some thirteen miles in advance of Lake City. In the meanwhile other troops, fast as the means of railroad transportation would enable me, had been despatched to the theatre of war from the works around Charleston and Savannah, and the positions covering the
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