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[321] was the first of the old National forts which was “repossessed” by the Government.

The Confederates fled from the village of Fernandina,1 near the fort, and also from the village of St. Mary's, a short. distance up the St. Mary's River. These were at once occupied by National forces. Fort Clinch was garrisoned by a few of General Wright's troops, and Commander C. R. P. Rogers, with some launches, captured the Confederate steamer Darlington, lying in the adjacent waters. The insurgent force was utterly broken up. “We captured Port Royal,” Dupont wrote to the Secretary of the Navy,

March, 4, 1862.
“but Fernandina and Fort Clinch have been given to us.”

News reached Dupont that the Confederates were abandoning every post along the Florida coast, and he took measures to occupy them or hold them in durance. Commander Gordon was sent with three gun-boats to Brunswick, the terminus of the Brunswick and Pensacola railway. He took possession of it on the 9th of March. The next day he held the batteries on the islands of St. Simon and Jekyl, and on the 13th he proceeded with the Potomska and Pocahontas through the inland passage from St. Simon's Sound to Darien, on the Altamaha River, in Georgia. This place, like Brunswick, was deserted, and nearly all of the inhabitants on St. Simon's and neighboring islands had fled to the main. In the mean time Dupont sent a small flotilla, under a judicious officer, Lieutenant Thomas Holdup Stevens, consisting of the gun-boats Ottawa, Seneca, Pembina, and Huron, with the transports I. P. Smith and Ellen, to enter the St. John's River, twenty-five miles farther down the coast, and push on to Jacksonville, and even to Pilatka, if possible. Stevens approached Jacksonville on the evening of the 11th of March,

and saw large fires in that direction; and on the following day he appeared before the town, which was abandoned by the Confederate soldiers.2 The fires had been kindled by order of General Trapier, the insurgent commander of that district, who directed the houses, stores, mills, and other property of persons suspected of being in favor of the Union, to be burnt. Under that order, eight immense saw-mills and a vast amount of valuable lumber were burned by guerrillas. On the appearance of Stevens's flotilla, the corporate authorities of the town, with S. L. Burritt at their head, went on board his vessel (the Ottawa) and formally surrendered the place. The Fourth New Hampshire, Colonel Whipple, landed and took possession, and it was hailed with joy by the Union people who remained there.

Two days before Jacksonville was surrendered to Stevens, Fort Marion and the ancient city of St. Augustine, still farther down the coast,3 were surrendered to Commander C. R. P. Rogers, who had crossed

March 11.

1 Fernandina was the eastern terminus of the Cedar Keys and Fernandina Railway, that crossed from the island to the main on trestle-work. A train was just starting on the arrival of Drayton. In the Ottawa he pursued it about two miles, firing several shots at the locomotive, but without doing much damage.

2 So large a number of Northern people inhabited Jacksonville at the beginning of the war, that it was called by the natives a “Yankee town.” But many of them were secessionists, and of 400 families who were there when Dupont arrived on the coast, only 70 remained when Stevens appeared. Jacksonville was one of the most beautiful, as well as the most flourishing and important cities in Florida; but this beginning of misery for the inhabitants did not end until it was nearly all destroyed during the war.

3 St. Augustine is the capital of St. John's County, Florida, and is situated on an estuary of the Atlantic, called North River, and two miles from the ocean. It is upon a plain a few feet above the sea. It is the oldest town in the United States founded by Europeans. The Spaniards built a fort there in 1565.

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