General Seymour has already established his headquarters on shore. We may look out for lively times during the week. The families remaining in Jacksonville do not number over twenty-five. They are mostly women and children. They had not the slightest intimation that we were coining, until they saw the gunboat Ottawa anchor off the town. Even then they did not suppose the place was to be occupied by our forces. The sight of our steamers, however, coming up in quick succession, soon prepared them for the event. As we neared the pier, a few handkerchiefs were waved at us from some of the buildings near the water. Every person in the place claims to be Union. The place itself is in a ruinous condition. Many of the houses are burned, others have been demolished. I learn from the citizens that the rebel troops in Florida are under the command of General Finnigan. His force is scattered, and amounts altogether to about two thousand five hundred. The Florida Central Railroad, which extends from this place to Tallahassee, is in running order. A train came and departed to-day. It was the intention of the rebels, however, to take up the rails next week and transport them to another portion of the Confederacy. That movement was to precede the abandonment of Florida. We hope to push forward so as to prevent the enemy from damaging the road to any great extent. A gentleman, named Bennett, a prominent citizen of this place, and a Union man besides, was to attend a convention to-morrow, with a view of dissuading the rebel authorities from tearing up the railroad. The same gentleman has nearly two hundred bales of cotton near Baldwin, which he had ordered to be sent to this place. General Finnigan telegraphed him to-day, that, in case the enemy should land at Jacksonville, his cotton would be burned. So it seems that the rebel general had some information of the expedition. I omitted to mention in the proper place that Major Stevens, of the First Massachusetts cavalry, was with company C in the reconnoissance this afternoon. Captain Ray, formerly lieutenant of the same company, and about to take a command in another regiment now forming in Massachusetts, volunteered his services to the expedition and was with his company to-day. Every thing thus far has gone on in the most prosperous manner. The State abounds in cattle, and provisions are not scarce.
Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, February 14, 1864.I have already noticed in a previous letter the safe arrival at Jacksonville of the troops forming the expedition which left Hilton Head on the sixth instant, for Florida. I now propose to chronicle the events which have occurred in this region since the landing. Prudential reasons deter me from giving the numerical strength of the force. Commencing from the eighth instant, I will state that the troops which had disembarked on the previous day left their camping-ground at three P. M., and proceeded toward the interior of the State. The force was divided into three columns, commanded respectively by Colonel Barton, Colonel Hawley, and Colonel Henry. The columns travelled by different routes, Colonel Henry's taking a road at the right of the main road, Colonel Hawley's one still further to the right, and Colonel Barton's the main road itself The side-roads join the main road at a point three miles above Jacksonville. From the first day of the march the main body of the expedition followed the line of the Florida Central Railroad. According to the original orders, the columns were to unite at thethree-mile point, march in a body that night an additional three miles, bivouac till morning, and then proceed to the rebel Camp Finnigan, which was situated eight miles from Jacksonville. The last of the troops did not reach thethree-mile point until after dark, consequently it was considered advisable for the infantry to halt there till daylight. In the mean time, Colonel Henry with his cavalry and artillery was ordered to push forward on a reconnoissance. I was fortunate enough to join Colonel Henry's column at the outset, and more fortunate in having had an opportunity to accompany it throughout the raid. I shall now ask the reader to follow me with the column, which I have no hesitation in saying has completely eclipsed, during its six days of experience and adventure, the achievements of any raiding party within the same space of time. It was quite dark when Colonel Henry left thethree-mile point; but notwithstanding this circumstance, the column moved on at a brisk trot. It was thought the enemy would be met at a small creek two miles this side of Jacksonville; but as it turned out, he did not attempt to make a stand between here and Camp Finnigan. Thus, it will be observed, Colonel Henry, after detaching his column from the main force, travelled over a space of five miles without noticing any indications of opposition. The country through which we passed is low, level, and marshy. The road on each side is flanked with pine forests, but by no means dense. The roads have a hard, sandy foundation; and, in many places, pools of water had settled, in some instances forming a depth of one and two feet. Unlike the roads in Virginia and other portions of the country, after a fall of rain, those in Florida are not made disagreeably muddy and impassable. If the water is too deep, or a fallen tree obstructs the way, it is an easy matter to go round it; and, judging from the numerous S's in the road, such has frequently been the case. What I write in regard to the general condition of the roads and aspect of the country, applies to the entire district through which we passed, from the commencement to the end of the road. I did not observe but one vegetable patch and not a single flower-garden anywhere along the route. The eye is wearied with viewing nothing