render their position almost impregnable to such force as we could array.
After their defeat in a battle where the opposing forces were nearly equal, the Federals
fell back to the 2,000 retained in rear near Jacksonville
to guard their line of communication, and received not less than 5,000 reinforcements, the estimate of troops concentrated in and around Jacksonville
being not less than 12,000, probably from that number to 15,000.
Thus strongly intrenched and supported by not less than four gunboats, it was not advisable for the Confederates
to attempt an attack.
The spirit of our troops would have led them to make an attempt to carry the works around Jacksonville
, but it would have been at a great sacrifice of life and to no purpose, as the gunboats would have controlled it. As there was no reason to doubt the correctness of the estimate made of the strength of the enemy, the only measures to be adopted for expelling them from their base of operations was the concentration of all available forces at our command at such places as would be best for a successful operation against their approach.
This could only be done by placing troops at favorable points on the St. John
's, and so fortifying them as to prevent such an invasion as the one attempted by them, which had ended so disastrously.
It was, therefore, absolutely necessary for the protection of the State
that our Florida
forces should still have the support of the troops that had come to their assistance at the battle of Olustee
Menaced by a formidable army not twenty miles distant it was truly a momentous crisis, and our commanding generals, deeply impressed by the gravity of the responsibility, moved their headquarters to Baldwin
to be nearer the field of action and in readiness for any emergency.
The opportune arrival of General Beauregard
was hailed as a harbinger of relief.
His presence infused new life into the army, and the confidence in his generalship and strategic ability inspired a stronger hope of ultimate success.
For nearly two weeks he remained