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Doc. 84 1/2.-naval operations in Florida.

Report of Flag-officer Du Pont.

Flag-ship Wabash, off St. Augustine, Fla., March 13, 1862.
sir: Having on the seventh despatched a division of my force to hold Brunswick, consisting of the Mohican, Pocahontas, and Potomska, under Commander Godon, I shifted my flag from the first-named vessel to the Pawnee, and organized another squadron of light vessels, embracing the four regular gunboats Ottawa, Seneca, Pembina, and Huron, with the Isaac Smith and Ellen, under Lieut. Commanding Stevens, to proceed without delay to the mouth of the St. John's River; cross, if possible, its difficult and shallow bar; feel the forts if still held, and push on to Jacksonville; indeed to go as far as Pilatka, eighty miles beyond, to reconnoitre and capture river-steamers. This expedition was to be accompanied by the armed launches and cutters of the Wabash, under Lieuts. Irwin and Barnes, and by a light-draft transport with the Seventh New-Hampshire regiment.

After arranging with Brig.-Gen. Wright on joint occupation of the Florida and Georgia coasts, including protection from injury the mansion and grounds of Dungeness, on Cumberland Island, originally the property of the Revolutionary hero and patriot, Gen. Greene, and still owned by his descendants, and leaving Commander Percival Drayton in charge of the naval force, I rejoined this ship waiting for me off Fernandina, and proceeded with her off St. John's, arriving there on the ninth.

The gunboats had not yet been able to cross the bar, but expected to do so the next day, the Ellen only getting in that evening. As at Nassau, which was visited by Lieut. Commanding Stevens, on his way down, the forts seemed abandoned.

There being no probability that the Huron could enter, I despatched her off St. Augustine, where I followed her, arriving on the eleventh.

I immediately sent on shore Commander C. R. P. Rodgers, with a flag of truce, having reason to believe that if there were any people on this coast likely to remain in their houses, it would beat St. Augustine.

I enclose Commander Rodgers' most interesting report, which I am sure the Department will read with satisfaction. The American flag is flying once more over that old city, raised by the hands of its own people, who resisted the appeals, threats, and falsehoods of their leaders, though compelled to witness the carrying off of their sons in the ranks of the flying enemy. This gives us possession of a second national fort of strength and importance.

Since writing the above, I have received by the Isaac Smith a report from Lieut. Commanding Stevens of his operations in the St. John's River, giving details of great interest.

From Lieut. Commanding Nicholson I learn with regret of acts of vandalism on the part of the rebel commanders, (not the people,) in setting fire to vast quantities of lumber, and the saw-mills in that region, owned by Northern men, supposed to have Union sympathies.

In all this varied and difficult service, having to contend with surf shores, dangerous bars, and inland navigation, in an enemy's country, I think it due to the officers and men under my command to say that they have, on all occasions, displayed [284] great spirit and ability, fully coming up to my requirements and expectations.

Very respectfully, etc.,

S. F. Du Pont, Flag-Officer. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.

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