Doc. 124.-evacuation of Jacksonville, Fla.
Philadelphia press account.
Jacksonville, Florida, April 8, 1862.it was with feelings of the most extreme astonishment and intense indignation that the people of Jacksonville and military and naval forces here stationed were first apprized .of the intention to evacuate the town. The displeasure of the troops and consternation of the loyal inhabitants could scarcely be imagined. Citizens who had already commenced to reenjoy blessings of civilisation, of which they had long been deprived, and to feel that their lives were again their own, and not the property of any wandering, vagabond Guerrilla or Regulator that might see fit to take it, were terror-stricken when they learned that they were to be deserted and left to the tender mercies of the bloodthirsty villains. The soldiers indulging in the hope of a prolonged rest, and opportunity to recruit after six months of constant changes and frequent confinements on shipboard, were much chagrined to hear that they were to make another move; but it was a military order, and as such had to be obeyed. The orders to give up the city were received from Hilton Head on Sunday, the sixth instant, by the United States transport Cosmopolitan, but were not generally known until the afternoon prior to the day of evacuation. The object of secrecy was chiefly to prevent a “hubbub” among the female portion of the population, but it was rather poorly accomplished, as the tears and prayers to be removed, of a score of women, fully proved. On Monday orders were issued by Gen. Wright for the troops to prepare two days rations, and be in readiness to embark at daylight next morning. The officers and men of the gunboats were also notified to have every-thing on board ready for a sudden start. Monday was principally occupied in cooking, packing up, bidding “adieu,” and other preliminaries to a departure. Many of the male inhabitants, especially those most favorable to our cause, and who had abetted us too much to risk the ire of the rebels, were engaged seeking means of transportation for themselves and families, willing to relinquish all their property in preference to remaining. Every facility and kind attention was extended to those desiring to leave; accommodations were provided in the transport steamers and schooners for as many as possible, and the remainder taken aboard the men-of-war. In this way some twenty or thirty families and a number of individuals managed to escape. Among those known to us are Colonel Sammis and family, Messrs. Robinson, Fairchilds, Mather, Stevens, Fairbanks, Clark, Burritt, Frazer, and families; also Messrs. Paris, Prateau, Remington, Dr. Mitchell, and others. None of these had more than ten hours in which to make preparations for leaving homes they had occupied for years. It was sad to see them hurrying down to the wharves, this morning, one after another, each carrying some article too precious to forsake. Books, boxes, valises, portraits, pictures, packages of clothing, pet canaries and mocking-birds were most frequently seen. Stout-hearted and stylish officers, relieving overloaded Dinahs of their little charges, and leading little two, three, and four-year olds along the docks, added a humane and praiseworthy ludicrousness to the melancholy scene. The negroes, with their small carts and stunted ponies, were busily engaged bringing down trunks, carpet--bags, and the lighter, portable, and more valuable articles of furniture, and putting them on the respective vessels, pell-mell, to be stowed for sea at some more convenient season. Haste and bustle were everywhere prevalent, the most strenuous efforts being made to secure to the fugitives satisfactory portions of their personal property. Of course, much, very much was abandoned, yet by the noble exertions of our soldiers and sailors, a great deal was secured. In the name of the people, we thank them for their manly conduct on that trying occasion. During the morning, the outer pickets were withdrawn, and the embarkation of troops began. This continued quietly for several hours, and by two P. M. all the vessels had received their cargoes and passengers, and were ready to haul out into the stream. The wind, which had been quite fresh during the forenoon, grew stronger, and eventually increased so much that it was with the greatest difficulty the steamers Belvidere and Pembina succeeded in towing the sailing-vessels into the channel, and a safe distance from the shore. At length all were clear and securely anchored, but, owing to the gale and the lateness of the hour, it was determined to remain until morning. At this hour, ten P. M., the rebels are already in the town, and within musket-shot of our anchorage, another proof of the intimate knowledge they possess of all our movements. Gen. Wright sent his compliments to Gen. Trapier this evening, informing him officially of what he had done, inviting him to come and reoccupy the town, and requesting him to take care of the women and children remaining. This message was courteously replied  to by Gen. Trapier or Col. Davis, I which.
Mayport, Wednesday, P. M., April 9.At six o'clock this morning, the evacuating fleet, in all eleven sail, got under way in regular order, and started down the St. John's River, a part bound to St. Augustine, and a portion to Fernandina. The vessels formed a long line, the United States steamer Ottawa, Senior Lieutenant Commanding T. H. Stevens, leading off, with the army transports Cosmopolitan and Belvidere in her wake. These steamers towed the schooners Chas. M. Neal, James G. Stille, Rachel S. Miller, and Magnum. Bonum. Then followed the gunboat Pembina, Lieutenant Commanding J. P. Bankhead, with the schooner Anna C. Leaverett; and last, least, but not most unimportant, came the useful little Ellen, Acting Master Budd, with the champion prize yacht America in tow. The United States steamer Seneca, Lieutenant Commanding Ammen, with several families aboard, left Jacksonville twenty-two hours in advance of the fleet, and had gone to sea, bound to Port Royal, when we got here. The Ottawa brought down the families of Mr. Frazer, a lawyer, formerly from Montrose, Susquehannah County, Pennsylvania, and Judge Burritt, an old and influential resident of Florida. Last night the rebel officers went to the Judge's house, and invited him to remain, but he “didn't see it.” His kind entertainment of Captains Stevens, Ammen, Bankhead, and Budd, together with the military officers during their stay, made his chances of protection from the rebels very doubful. The Cosmopolitan bore, in addition to the Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania regiment, several companies of the Fourth New-Hampshire regiment, all the regimental equipage, and a large number of the refugees with their baggage. The Belvidere had a section of Sherman's celebrated battery, under Capt. Ransom, portion of the Fourth New-Hampshire regiment, and several families aboard. The Pembina carried Gen. Wright and part of staff, while the Ellen was freighted with the valuable able law and literary libraries of Judge Burritt. We ascertained this morning that a company of rebel cavalry, acting as escort to the “secesh” commander, had been in the city all night, and as we passed the lower path of the place, saw their saddled horses hitched within two hundred and fifty yards of us, and several uniformed officers and privates came on the wharf to see the “Yankees” off. Truly, this is at times a very “civil war!” Our passage down the Walaka (the Indian name of the river) was several times interrupted by trifling causes. After experiencing several squalls, however, and shelling the woods and yellow low bluff, where the Seneca was attacked a few days since, we reached Mayport. Here we found the stone schooner David Faust, and the despatch yacht Azalea, the latter from St. Augustine. At half-past 1 the entire fleet anchored to await calmer weather for crossing the bar.