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[405] eight hundred and sixty-three, and in pursuance of instructions received from the President of the United States, Major John Hay, Assistant Adjutant-General, will proceed to Fernandina, Florida, and other convenient points in that State, for the purpose of extending to the citizens of the State of Florida an opportunity to avail themselves of the benefit of that proclamation, by offering for their signature the oath of allegiance therein prescribed, and by issuing to all those subscribing to said oath, certificates entitling them to the benefits of the proclamation. Fugitive citizens of the State of Florida within the limits of this department, will have an opportunity to subscribe to the same oath and secure certificates in the office of the post commander at Hilton Head, South-Carolina.

By command of Major-General Q. A. Gillmore. E. W. Smith, Assistant Adjutant-General.

A national account.

Jacksonville, Fla., Monday, Feb. 22, 1864.
The entire column, numbering a little less than five thousand men, left Barber's at seven o'clock Saturday morning, and proceeded on the main road toward Lake City. I am confident the force did not exceed the number stated, for I am assured by an aid-de-camp to General Seymour, that rations were drawn that morning for not quite five thousand. The forward movement was made suddenly. On Friday it was not supposed by the commanding officers--not including General Seymour--that an advance would be made for some days thence. With that conviction, the officers and men had built themselves log huts, and provided such conveniences available in that section as would insure a fair share of comfort. Some time during the night General Seymour received information of the enemy's whereabouts and plans, which led him to believe that by pushing rapidly forward his column, he would be able to defeat the enemy's designs, and secure important military advantages. Whatever that information may have been, the events of Saturday would indicate that it was by no means reliable, or that General Seymour acted upon it with too much haste. We all know that General Seymour is not a man to hesitate in his actions when an opportunity offers for a possible success. He is one of the class that believes he has a chance of winning and a chance of losing, and that success would never be obtained if he rested quietly on the bend of the little South-Fork. He means it shall never be said of the army that he commands, that it is all quiet on the line of some river. General Seymour deserves credit for his ambition and dash. If he had allowed himself to rest his command at Barber's for a month or six weeks, without making a single effort to engage the enemy and gain advantage, he would have been the butt for censure, not only from the army here, but the people at home. We take the ground that General Seymour did what nearly every one, before the engagement, said he should do. If he had achieved a victory, it would have been as every body predicted, and his name would have been mentioned with praise. Now he has suffered a repulse, he will, of course, be looked upon by some as having too much rashness to prosecute a campaign, and for that reason must bear whole loads of censure. Although the result of the fight was not favorable for us, it does not alter the fact that we have a man in the department of the South who has pluck enough to meet the enemy, regardless of his strength, more than half-way; give him battle, and take the legitimate chances of success.

The place at which the fight occurred, is on the line of the Florida Central Railroad, forty-five miles from Jacksonville, and within fifteen miles of Lake City. The nearest station to the ground is called Olustee, which is about three miles further up toward Lake City. The nearest station in the opposite direction is Sanderson, six miles distant from the battle-field. On the march from Barber's, our troops passed through Sanderson at about noon. At this place they did not halt, but pushed forward toward Olustee, the point at which General Seymour believed he should meet the enemy. But instead of coming in contact with the enemy at Olustee, the meeting took place three miles this side, so our troops were not so well prepared for battle as they would have been if Olustee had been the battle-field. Our column moved forward in regular order, the cavalry in the advance, and the artillery distributed along the line of infantry. It may be offered as an objection that the column was without flankers. The only source through which any intimation of the enemy's presence could be received, was the advance cavalry-guard. It would certainly be called a military failing to move a column of troops without the proper flankers through any portion of the enemy's country, even if positive information had been obtained that the enemy himself was a long distance off. The road from Barber's to Lake City lies parallel with the railroad, crossing it at intervals on an average of five miles. It was at one of these crossing-points that the fight was commenced. The head of the column reached this point at two P. M. The men had not rested from the time they left Barber's, at seven A. M. The usual halt of a few minutes every hour was, of course, observed, but we cannot say the troops fairly rested. Neither had they tasted of a mouthful of food. Thus, after a tedious march of sixteen miles, over a road of loose sand, or boggy turf, or covered knee-deep with muddy water, the troops, weary, exhausted, faint, hungry, and ill-conditioned, were suddenly attacked by a large force of the enemy, who had concealed himself behind a thick wood, waiting with complacent satisfaction the entry of our men into his ambush, very much after the manner that the spider would have the fly walk into his parlor. Before reaching the battle-ground, Colonel Henry, with his cavalry of the Independent Massachusetts battalion, and the Fortieth Massachusetts mounted infantry, came upon a party of five mounted rebels who were stationed

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T. Seymour (8)
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