Before crossing the river, he had directed Captain Mc-Gahaghan
, who was at Horse landing
with an infantry company of reserves for the purpose of removing the machinery of the gunboat Columbine
, to be ready to assist him when he returned from his expedition.
Early next morning on arriving at the landing the boat was found ready.
The position was a very critical one.
It was apprehended that the enemy would soon follow with a large force to cut them off—an almost impenetrable swamp to the right and the St. John
's in front giving them the advantage.
This called forth all the resources of the leader to plan the successful accomplishment of so dangerous a transportation.
He sent a scout 8 miles in his rear to watch the enemy's movements.
He fully understood, should Lieutenant McCardell
come up, there would be about 250 men and over 200 horses, with ten heavily loaded wagons and two ambulances, to be moved across the St. John's river
by means of one flatboat, with capacity to carry one wagon or twelve men and horses.
Fortunately the infantry company of about 70 men on the opposite shore would render valuable assistance in unloading each transport.
He then made a detail of three detachments, sufficiently strong to manage the boat and respectively take command.
At 10 o'clock a. m. they began their difficult and arduous task.
The prisoners were first sent over, then the captured wagons and horses, until all were safely landed.
Day and night these dauntless men worked with such caution and accuracy that not a mistake was made, either in loading or discharging.
The boat was never stopped until the last man, horse and wagon were safely landed on the west side of the St. John's river
While this was going on a courier reported that Lieutenant McCardell
and command were all safe and would soon be up. On their arrival they gave most efficient help to our tired men who had so often crossed and re-crossed the river in performance of their arduous and perilous duty.