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[189] or the deserters and disloyals who infest certain remote localities. The best that can be done will be to defend points of greatest importance. With this view I have disposed the cavalry as follows: Hood's battalion and three companies Fifth Florida battalion in middle and west Florida, to picket the coast and operate in the disloyal neighborhoods. The Second Florida cavalry and four companies Fifth battalion Florida cavalry in east Florida, in front of Jacksonville and up the St. John's river on the west side, as high as Fort Butler, for the purpose of keeping observation on the enemy's force in that vicinity. It will be readily perceived that this force is wholly inadequate to the protection of the country, should the enemy see fit to move out from under his gunboats. From any point on the upper St. John's he can make raids into Marion, Sumter and Alachua counties at pleasure. A large negro population and an exaggerated estimate of the supplies in those counties are the inducements for him to visit them. The injury he can inflict by breaking up the operations of our commissary agents in supplying beef cattle from south Florida, will be a serious one and one that should not be overlooked by the government.

I would respectfully call the attention of the majorgen-eral commanding to this matter in particular. From the language of the dispatch from the adjutant and inspector-general at Richmond, ordering the infantry out of this district, I think it is evident there must be some misapprehension there as to the available force in Florida. It will be seen that to protect south Florida it is absolutely necessary to prevent the enemy from reaching Baldwin, which is only 20 miles from Jacksonville, where he now has over 3,000 troops. It is also necessary to prevent him crossing over from St. Augustine, where he has about 1,000 troops, to points above the mouth of the Ocklawaha river. Having the advantage of river navigation he can reach any point on the upper St. John's before a force at this point could proceed in the direction to meet him. Therefore it is absolutely necessary to have a force here to protect Baldwin and also a force on the upper St. John's to prevent these raids. Such a force is not now at my command. Indeed, any day when he chooses to do so, the enemy can move out to Baldwin and occupy the place.

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