but pine trees. Such a thing as a hill or a rise of ground to even a moderate height is out of the question. The houses situated between the settlements are isolated, and present an old, dilapidated appearance. The soil is one fair for farming purposes. It must not be forgotten I am speaking particularly of the land on the line of the railroad from Jacksonville to Lake City. Beyond the latter place, the country is entirely changed, the soil is a rich, sandy loam, and is cultivated to a considerable extent. The best portion of Florida lies near the Gulf. Timber and turpentine are the chief products of that portion which lay along our route. I noticed miles and miles of trees that had been tapped for turpentine. In many places the dead grass and the trees were in flames. With this brief general description of the country I will go on with my narrative of military events. A night's ride, with the darkness so dense we could not see our horses' heads, through a hostile country which affords advantages for guerrillas, over a road the bridges of which the enemy had destroyed, and so forced our troops to ford the streams, would not be esteemed a pleasant adventure by our timid friends at the North. Every one, however, was in good spirits, and did not care how rapidly he rode, provided he could soon come up with the enemy. It was a little disappointment not to have met some of the rebels at the small stream, two miles this side of Camp Finnigan; but the disappointment was of short duration, for we had not proceeded one half-mile further, when we discovered a picket station. A charge was made upon it by four men, but the pickets had fallen back to their reserve post. We were now on the enemy's track. A half-mile gallop brought us within sight of the post camp-fires. and round it could be seen the pickets hurriedly arranging their traps preparatory to joining their comrades at Camp Finnigan. The advance-guard of four men, led by Lieutenant Holt, of company A, Independent battalion Massachusetts cavalry, made the charge, and succeeded in capturing all the pickets, five in number. Another rebel, who was outside the line, received a severe sabre-cut across the head by one of the sergeants. He ran into the woods on the left, and when Captain Elder came on with his artillery, ran back toward the road shouting: “I surrender.” He was placed on a gun-box and taken to Barber's Station, where his wound was dressed by our surgeon. This was the only casualty that occurred on either side that night. An aged woman with three young children was sitting at the fire. Neither she nor the children were molested. She thought it very hard that we should take from her a colt which she seemed greatly to prize. But I think the woman must have regained possession of her colt, from the fact that it kicked the horses some of our men were riding so violently, that the cannoneer, who led it, was glad to let it loose. The horses used by the pickets were taken to the rear of the column. After making a short stop, the column went forward, and within a few minutes' time came within sight of Camp Finnigan. The camp lay at the right of the main road and on the line of the railroad. Scouts were sent ahead to reconnoitre, and approached so near the camp as to see two hundred cavalrymen drawn up in line of battle, awaiting our charge. The pickets immediately around the camp had reported our advance. But to put to flight and scatter two hundred men was not Colonel Henry's object, especially when he knew of artillery that he might possibly capture by not heeding the enemy at Camp Finnigan. It is not usually the case that an offensive force leaves knowingly an enemy in the rear. Colonel Henry saw that the enemy was not sufficiently strong to do him any harm, and also knew that if he once got in his rear, the two hundred rebels would have no chance for escape except by dispersing and taking to the woods. There was a chance when the rebels saw their line of retreat cut off, that they would attack Henry, in which event they would have been gobbled up in a very short time. Henry was prepared for them, and I heard him express the wish more than once that the enemy was following. Another gallop for two miles, and I witnessed the most brilliant dash that a similar force of cavalry ever executed. It was upon an artillery camp situated like Camp Finnigan, on the line of the railroad. The rebel cavalry, having been cut off at Finnigan. no intelligence of our approach had reached the artillerists — consequently they were taken completely by surprise. Relying wholly upon the cavalry at Finnigan to give them warning of the enemy's presence, the artillerists neglected to throw out pickets, so an advance-guard was enabled without difficulty to ride up to within a few yards of the camp. The rebels had heard of our advance from Jacksonville, and, not favorably impressed with the number of our men as represented to them, decided to retire with their guns and camp equipage to Lake City. They would have been successful in their design had they given us credit for less celerity of movement. It must be observed that Henry throughout the entire raid did not wait to give the enemy the least intimation of his approach. He dashed upon him as a cat pounces upon a mouse. The advance-guard having reported to Colonel Henry the condition of the camp, that officer, together with Major Stevens, of the Independent Battalion, went forward and examined for themselves. It was ascertained that the men at the camp numbered about one hundred and fifty. They could be seen sitting near the fires in the act of preparing something to eat. The horses and mules were standing ready harnessed, and the wagons were partly laden with officers' baggage. We were afterward told by prisoners that they could have got the guns and some of the wagons away had they received fifteen minutes notice of our approach. Colonel Henry, having satisfied himself of the state of affairs, returned to his command and ordered the Independent Battalion to advance cautiously to within
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 3 .-attack on the defences of Mobile .
Surrender of Fort Powell .
Battle of Olustee .
Battle of Pleasant Hill .
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.