started for Hilton Head on the fifteenth, leaving behind me Captain Reese of the Engineers, to give the necessary instructions for the defences referred to. I considered it well understood at that time between General Seymour and myself that no advance should be made without further instructions from me, nor until the defences were well advanced. On the eighteenth I was greatly surprised at receiving a letter from General Seymour, dated the seventeenth, stating that he intended to advance without supplies, in order to destroy the railroad near the Savannah River, one hundred miles from Jacksonville. I at once despatched General Turner to Jacksonville to stop the movement. He was the bearer of a letter to General Seymour. Upon arriving at Jacksonville, after considerable delay, due to the inclemency of the weather, he learned that General Seymour was engaged with the enemy in front, near Olustee, forty-eight miles from Jacksonville by railroad. When I left Jacksonville on the fifteenth ult., I was entirely satisfied with the success of our operations up to that time. I briefly communicated to you my plans with regard to Florida in my letter of February fifteenth, from which I extract as follows:
General Seymour's advance has been within four miles of Lake City, but as his instructions were not to risk a repulse or make an attack when there was a prospect of incurring much loss, he has taken up a position at Baldwin, the junction of the railroad from Jacksonville with the one from Fernandina. He holds also the crossing of the St. Mary's South-Fork, about twelve miles west of Baldwin. I intend to construct small works capable of resisting a coup-de-main at Jacksonville, Baldwin, Pilatka, and perhaps one or two other important points, so strong that two hundred or three hundred men will be sufficient at each point. Twenty-five hundred men in addition to the two regiments that have been permanently stationed in this State (one at St. Augustine and one at Fernandina) ought to be ample in Florida.The artillery captured here will suffice for such defensive works as may be deemed necessary. I desire to see the lumber and turpentine trade on the St. John's River revived by loyal men, and for that purpose, and to give assurance that our occupation of this river is intended to be permanent, I have written to the Secretary of the Treasury, recommending that the port of Jacksonville be declared open. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
headquarters Department of the South, Hilton head, S. C., Feb. 5, 1864, 9 P. M.General: You will start your command so as, if possible, to get the bulk of it at sea before daybreak. Steamers that have tows should be started as soon as they are ready. The whole are to rendezvous at the mouth of St. John's River by daybreak day after to-morrow morning, the seventh instant. I expect to be there in person at that time, but should I fail from any cause, you are expected to pass the bar on the Sunday morning's high-tide, ascend the river to Jacksonville, effect a landing with your command, and push forward a mounted force as far as Baldwin at the junction of the two railroads. The armed transport Harriet A. Weed has been ordered forward to buoy out the St. John's channel, and then await orders. It is not expected that the enemy has any strong force to oppose your landing. I have sent instructions to Colonel Goss, commanding at Fernandina, to have the railroad tracks on both roads torn up in several places after the train comes into Jacksonville to-morrow, and to keep the track obstructed throughout Saturday night. The object of a prompt advance on Baldwin, and, if possible, beyond, is to get possession of a train if one has been brought up by the enemy. The enemy are known to have a small force of infantry and a battery between Jacksonville and Baldwin. Very respectfully,
Brigadier-General T. Seymour:
Brigadier-General T. Seymour:
[B.] [Telegraphic Despatch.]
Baldwin. Don't risk a repulse in advancing on Lake City, but hold Sanderson unless there are reasons for falling back which I don't know. Please inform me how your command is distributed between here and the South-Fork of the St. Mary's. Please report by telegraph from Baldwin. frequently.
Baldwin.] If your advance meets serious opposition, concentrate at Sanderson and the South-Fork of the St. Mary's, and if necessary, bring back Henry to the latter place.
[D.] [Telegraphic Despatch.]
Sanderson. No news yet from Henry. Tilghman is at Baldwin. Two of his companies here.