the St. John's River
was to co-operate, with some naval vessels.
It was most enjoyable voyaging down the coast.
A few men were seasick, but soon recovered.
The ‘Maple Leaf
’ arrived off the St. John
's at 8.50 A. M. on the 7th, and the ‘General Hunter
’ at 9 A. M. Eleven steamers and smaller craft had arrived or were coming in; and as the transports passed one another, the troops cheered enthusiastically.
There, too, the gunboats Ottawa
’ were found ready to escort the fleet.
At about noon, the larger portion of the vessels started up the river for Jacksonville
, some twenty-five miles distant.
Just three hundred years before, Rene de Laudonniere
led a French fleet up the same river, known then as the ‘River of May,’ following the lead of the famous Ribaut
the previous year.
The beautiful and historic stream glided to the sea as placidly as then through the marshy lowlands, past the white bluffs and forests of pine and cedar.
Amid the romantic scenery, through this historic region, on a delightful day, the fleet proceeded up the devious stream with the gunboat Ottawa
in the lead, followed by the ‘Maple Leaf
’ and ‘General Hunter
Evidences of former Federal occupation or Rebel abandonment were seen in burned saw-mills, deserted houses, and decayed landings.
Upon rounding a point late in the afternoon, Jacksonville
appeared in view, looking much like a devastated Northern city, with its ruined gas-works, burned saw-mills, and warehouses; but many residences and stores appeared in good repair.
As the vessels approached nearer the town, some women and children were discovered, waving handkerchiefs from places near the water-front.