This was one of those utterly wasted defeats caused by the complication of political and military aims.
It was the result of an attempt to take possession of the main land of Florida with a hope of bringing its people back into the Union,—an attempt in which every advantage was given to the Confederates by their possession of interior lines, so that they could easily overwhelm any given force by bringing up reinforcements.
The first onset having been unfavorable to the Union troops, Montgomery's brigade was ordered forward to hold the enemy in check until a new line could be formed in the rear.
This was effectually done and a newspaper correspondent wrote, The two colored regiments had stood in the gap and saved the army.
Emilio, p. 167. He also says (p. 163): Adjutant Howard relates that as he was riding over the field beside Colonel Hallowell, General Seymour rode up to that officer and told him, in substance, that the day was lost and that everything depended on the 54th.