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Doc. 87.-the campaign in Florida.

General Gillmore's despatch.

Baldwin, Fla., February 9.
To Major-General H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief:
General: I have the honor to report that a part of my command, under Brigadier-General F. Seymour, convoyed by the gunboat Norwich, Captain Merriam, ascended St. John's River on the seventh instant, and landed at Jacksonville on the afternoon of that day.

The advance, under Colonel Guy V. Henry, comprising the Fortieth Massachusetts infantry, independent battalion of Massachusetts cavalry under Major Stevens, and Elders's horse battery of First artillery, pushed forward into the interior. On the night of the eighth, passed by the enemy drawn up in line of battle at Camp Vinegar, seven miles from Jacksonville, surprised and captured a battery three miles in the rear of the camp, about midnight, and reached this place about sunrise this morning. At our approach, the enemy absconded, sunk the steamer St. Mary's, and burned two hundred and seventy bales of cotton a few miles above Jacksonville. We have taken, without the loss of a man, about one hundred prisoners, eight pieces of artillery in serviceable condition, and one well supplied with ammunition, and other valuable property to a large amount.

Q. A. Gillmore, Major-General Commanding.

A national account.

Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 7, 1864.
The National forces occupied Jacksonville, Fla., at five P. M., this day.

The expedition, comprising twenty steamers of various classes, and eight schooners, the whole under the command of General Seymour, left Hilton Head on the morning of the sixth. The forces consisted of cavalry, artillery, and infantry.

The entire fleet arrived without accident of any kind at the bar off the mouth of St. John's River, between the hours of eight and ten A. M., to-day.

In consequence of the ebb-tide, only thirteen of the vessels were able to ride over the bar this morning. At twelve M., that number, including the Maple Leaf, General Seymour's flag-steamer, started to go up St. John's River. On the passage up, the propeller Tilley and the side-wheel steamer General Meigs got aground at a point about five miles from here. At the present writing they have not arrived, but they will probably be here in the course of two or three hours, as the high-tide at eight o'clock will enable them to float.

The gunboats Ottawa and Norwich were on duty at the mouth of the river. The Norwich took the lead up the river, and anchored off Jacksonville, with her starboard-guns trained on the town. Immediately following the gunboat was the flag-steamer Maple Leaf, which was followed in turn by the other vessels.

Not a gun was fired until the Maple Leaf and the General Hunter were making fast to the piers at Jacksonville, when a squad of rebel infantry, who were skulking in a piece of woods on the outskirts of the town, fired three shots at the General Hunter, one of which wounded the second mate, Mr. Norris, the ball entering the chest and coming out at the back. The wounded man received prompt medical attendance, but his condition is precarious.

Soon as the boats touched the piers, General Seymour gave orders for the troops to instantly disembark, form by companies, and pursue the enemy. The first troops to land were companies A, B, and D, Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, (colored,) next came the colored troops from the General Hunter, and at the same time company C, First Massachusetts cavalry, Captain Webster, from the Rappahannock.

The colored troops filed into the streets bordering on the river, and at the word of command started on a double-quick for the enemy. The enemy did not number over twenty-five foot and mounted soldiers. He fired six or seven shots, and then fled to the woods. None of our men were wounded. The pursuit was maintained by the colored troops for a distance of two miles. They then (having been relieved by company C, First Massachusetts cavalry) returned, bringing with them five prisoners. Two of the prisoners were taken from a wagon which was being driven toward Baldwin. The cavalry went a distance of five miles, and brought in eleven prisoners, including two signal-officers who were on their station. Two signal-flags and a quantity of material used for signal purposes, were captured, and a number of horses and mules were also driven in.

To-night our troops are making preparations to march forward toward Baldwin at daylight to-morrow. Baldwin is a small town on the Florida Central Railroad, and eighteen miles distant from here. [395]

General Seymour has already established his headquarters on shore. We may look out for lively times during the week.

The families remaining in Jacksonville do not number over twenty-five. They are mostly women and children. They had not the slightest intimation that we were coining, until they saw the gunboat Ottawa anchor off the town. Even then they did not suppose the place was to be occupied by our forces. The sight of our steamers, however, coming up in quick succession, soon prepared them for the event.

As we neared the pier, a few handkerchiefs were waved at us from some of the buildings near the water. Every person in the place claims to be Union.

The place itself is in a ruinous condition. Many of the houses are burned, others have been demolished. I learn from the citizens that the rebel troops in Florida are under the command of General Finnigan. His force is scattered, and amounts altogether to about two thousand five hundred.

The Florida Central Railroad, which extends from this place to Tallahassee, is in running order. A train came and departed to-day. It was the intention of the rebels, however, to take up the rails next week and transport them to another portion of the Confederacy. That movement was to precede the abandonment of Florida. We hope to push forward so as to prevent the enemy from damaging the road to any great extent.

A gentleman, named Bennett, a prominent citizen of this place, and a Union man besides, was to attend a convention to-morrow, with a view of dissuading the rebel authorities from tearing up the railroad. The same gentleman has nearly two hundred bales of cotton near Baldwin, which he had ordered to be sent to this place. General Finnigan telegraphed him to-day, that, in case the enemy should land at Jacksonville, his cotton would be burned. So it seems that the rebel general had some information of the expedition.

I omitted to mention in the proper place that Major Stevens, of the First Massachusetts cavalry, was with company C in the reconnoissance this afternoon. Captain Ray, formerly lieutenant of the same company, and about to take a command in another regiment now forming in Massachusetts, volunteered his services to the expedition and was with his company to-day.

Every thing thus far has gone on in the most prosperous manner. The State abounds in cattle, and provisions are not scarce.

Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, February 14, 1864.
I have already noticed in a previous letter the safe arrival at Jacksonville of the troops forming the expedition which left Hilton Head on the sixth instant, for Florida. I now propose to chronicle the events which have occurred in this region since the landing. Prudential reasons deter me from giving the numerical strength of the force. Commencing from the eighth instant, I will state that the troops which had disembarked on the previous day left their camping-ground at three P. M., and proceeded toward the interior of the State. The force was divided into three columns, commanded respectively by Colonel Barton, Colonel Hawley, and Colonel Henry. The columns travelled by different routes, Colonel Henry's taking a road at the right of the main road, Colonel Hawley's one still further to the right, and Colonel Barton's the main road itself The side-roads join the main road at a point three miles above Jacksonville. From the first day of the march the main body of the expedition followed the line of the Florida Central Railroad. According to the original orders, the columns were to unite at thethree-mile point, march in a body that night an additional three miles, bivouac till morning, and then proceed to the rebel Camp Finnigan, which was situated eight miles from Jacksonville. The last of the troops did not reach thethree-mile point until after dark, consequently it was considered advisable for the infantry to halt there till daylight. In the mean time, Colonel Henry with his cavalry and artillery was ordered to push forward on a reconnoissance. I was fortunate enough to join Colonel Henry's column at the outset, and more fortunate in having had an opportunity to accompany it throughout the raid. I shall now ask the reader to follow me with the column, which I have no hesitation in saying has completely eclipsed, during its six days of experience and adventure, the achievements of any raiding party within the same space of time. It was quite dark when Colonel Henry left thethree-mile point; but notwithstanding this circumstance, the column moved on at a brisk trot. It was thought the enemy would be met at a small creek two miles this side of Jacksonville; but as it turned out, he did not attempt to make a stand between here and Camp Finnigan. Thus, it will be observed, Colonel Henry, after detaching his column from the main force, travelled over a space of five miles without noticing any indications of opposition. The country through which we passed is low, level, and marshy. The road on each side is flanked with pine forests, but by no means dense. The roads have a hard, sandy foundation; and, in many places, pools of water had settled, in some instances forming a depth of one and two feet. Unlike the roads in Virginia and other portions of the country, after a fall of rain, those in Florida are not made disagreeably muddy and impassable. If the water is too deep, or a fallen tree obstructs the way, it is an easy matter to go round it; and, judging from the numerous S's in the road, such has frequently been the case. What I write in regard to the general condition of the roads and aspect of the country, applies to the entire district through which we passed, from the commencement to the end of the road. I did not observe but one vegetable patch and not a single flower-garden anywhere along the route. The eye is wearied with viewing nothing [396] but pine trees. Such a thing as a hill or a rise of ground to even a moderate height is out of the question. The houses situated between the settlements are isolated, and present an old, dilapidated appearance. The soil is one fair for farming purposes. It must not be forgotten I am speaking particularly of the land on the line of the railroad from Jacksonville to Lake City. Beyond the latter place, the country is entirely changed, the soil is a rich, sandy loam, and is cultivated to a considerable extent. The best portion of Florida lies near the Gulf. Timber and turpentine are the chief products of that portion which lay along our route. I noticed miles and miles of trees that had been tapped for turpentine. In many places the dead grass and the trees were in flames. With this brief general description of the country I will go on with my narrative of military events.

A night's ride, with the darkness so dense we could not see our horses' heads, through a hostile country which affords advantages for guerrillas, over a road the bridges of which the enemy had destroyed, and so forced our troops to ford the streams, would not be esteemed a pleasant adventure by our timid friends at the North. Every one, however, was in good spirits, and did not care how rapidly he rode, provided he could soon come up with the enemy. It was a little disappointment not to have met some of the rebels at the small stream, two miles this side of Camp Finnigan; but the disappointment was of short duration, for we had not proceeded one half-mile further, when we discovered a picket station. A charge was made upon it by four men, but the pickets had fallen back to their reserve post. We were now on the enemy's track. A half-mile gallop brought us within sight of the post camp-fires. and round it could be seen the pickets hurriedly arranging their traps preparatory to joining their comrades at Camp Finnigan. The advance-guard of four men, led by Lieutenant Holt, of company A, Independent battalion Massachusetts cavalry, made the charge, and succeeded in capturing all the pickets, five in number. Another rebel, who was outside the line, received a severe sabre-cut across the head by one of the sergeants. He ran into the woods on the left, and when Captain Elder came on with his artillery, ran back toward the road shouting: “I surrender.” He was placed on a gun-box and taken to Barber's Station, where his wound was dressed by our surgeon. This was the only casualty that occurred on either side that night. An aged woman with three young children was sitting at the fire. Neither she nor the children were molested. She thought it very hard that we should take from her a colt which she seemed greatly to prize. But I think the woman must have regained possession of her colt, from the fact that it kicked the horses some of our men were riding so violently, that the cannoneer, who led it, was glad to let it loose. The horses used by the pickets were taken to the rear of the column. After making a short stop, the column went forward, and within a few minutes' time came within sight of Camp Finnigan.

The camp lay at the right of the main road and on the line of the railroad. Scouts were sent ahead to reconnoitre, and approached so near the camp as to see two hundred cavalrymen drawn up in line of battle, awaiting our charge. The pickets immediately around the camp had reported our advance. But to put to flight and scatter two hundred men was not Colonel Henry's object, especially when he knew of artillery that he might possibly capture by not heeding the enemy at Camp Finnigan. It is not usually the case that an offensive force leaves knowingly an enemy in the rear. Colonel Henry saw that the enemy was not sufficiently strong to do him any harm, and also knew that if he once got in his rear, the two hundred rebels would have no chance for escape except by dispersing and taking to the woods. There was a chance when the rebels saw their line of retreat cut off, that they would attack Henry, in which event they would have been gobbled up in a very short time. Henry was prepared for them, and I heard him express the wish more than once that the enemy was following. Another gallop for two miles, and I witnessed the most brilliant dash that a similar force of cavalry ever executed. It was upon an artillery camp situated like Camp Finnigan, on the line of the railroad. The rebel cavalry, having been cut off at Finnigan. no intelligence of our approach had reached the artillerists — consequently they were taken completely by surprise. Relying wholly upon the cavalry at Finnigan to give them warning of the enemy's presence, the artillerists neglected to throw out pickets, so an advance-guard was enabled without difficulty to ride up to within a few yards of the camp. The rebels had heard of our advance from Jacksonville, and, not favorably impressed with the number of our men as represented to them, decided to retire with their guns and camp equipage to Lake City. They would have been successful in their design had they given us credit for less celerity of movement. It must be observed that Henry throughout the entire raid did not wait to give the enemy the least intimation of his approach. He dashed upon him as a cat pounces upon a mouse.

The advance-guard having reported to Colonel Henry the condition of the camp, that officer, together with Major Stevens, of the Independent Battalion, went forward and examined for themselves. It was ascertained that the men at the camp numbered about one hundred and fifty. They could be seen sitting near the fires in the act of preparing something to eat. The horses and mules were standing ready harnessed, and the wagons were partly laden with officers' baggage. We were afterward told by prisoners that they could have got the guns and some of the wagons away had they received fifteen minutes notice of our approach. Colonel Henry, having satisfied himself of the state of affairs, returned to his command and ordered the Independent Battalion to advance cautiously to within [397] twenty yards of the camp. The Fortieth Massachusetts mounted infantry were formed in line of battle directly in front of Captain Elder's flying artillery. Colonel Henry and Major Stevens placed themselves at the head of the battalion, and at the word of command the two buglers blew a terrific blast, which was instantly followed by the charge of the battalion. In half a minute's time our cavalry had dashed into the centre of the camp and surrounded it on all sides. With two or three exceptions, all of the rebels escaped, so easy was it for them to just slip into the woods and conceal themselves under cover of the darkness. The very first note of the bugle gave them the alarm.

The capture of four guns at this place, beside a large quantity of camp and garrison equipage, including wagons, tents, commissary stores, officers' baggage, and, in fact, every thing that could be of value to the enemy, were the fruits of this handsome little dash. In another portion of this letter I insert a list which comprises some of the important articles captured at this camp. The guns, two of which were twelve-pounder rifled, and two six-pounder smooth-bore, belonged respectively to Dunham's and Able's batteries. Every thing that was captured here belonged to either one or the other battery. Three prisoners were taken. Captain Dunham, hearing that we were within six miles of his camp, had deserted his men and gone to Lake City. Able was also absent. The prisoners said that the men wanted to fight, but Dunham told them it was of no use, that we were on the way up with a large force, and the best thing that could be done was to get off as soon as possible. A train was expected from Lake City at twelve o'clock that night to take them away. The telegraph operator, however, had time to send a despatch keeping it back. His office was in a house just beyond the camp. Major Stevens walked into the room and seized the fellow by the throat as he was on the point of sending another message. In a few seconds his instrument was knocked to pieces and the wire cut.

The valor of our cavalry not only on this but other occasions, cannot be too highly extolled. The Independent Massachusetts cavalry battalion, with Major Stevens at its head, and for its company officers such men as Captains Richmond, Webster, and Morrell, and Lieutenant Holt, has achieved for itself during the past week a high reputation. In this connection I must not omit to mention the eagerness with which Captain Ray, formerly a Lieutenant in company C, accepted the opportunity to accompany Major Stevens as volunteer aid. He recently received his commission as captain in the Fourth Massachusetts cavalry, and when the expedition left Hilton Head, was on the point of going North to join his regiment. All the distance from Jacksonville, either Captain Ray or Lieutenant Holt led the advance-guard. The Fortieth Massachusetts mounted infantry also performed admirable service, and by no means lessened the good name they have long enjoyed for bravery and discipline. To one who had never seen artillery keep close up with cavalry on a march, the feat of Captain Elder on Monday night would have astonished him beyond measure. No matter where or how fast the cavalry went, Captain Elder was sure to be up to the spare horses with his artillery. Through ditches, over stumps, turning short corners, walking, trotting, galloping, the artillery never lagged in the rear. Captain Elder is widely known as one of the most successful and dashing officers we have in the artillery service. General Seymour evidently knew his men when he selected officers for his raiding party.

In order to allow the men and horses a little rest, and thinking that perhaps the rebels at Camp Finnigan would be coming down the road, Colonel Henry concluded to remain at the artillery camp, or Ten-Mile Run, as it is called, till four A. M. In the mean time, the horses were baited, and the men fell to work to breaking open trunks and valises, and making a thorough inspection of the property the rebels had abandoned. It so happened on that same day the rebels had received from Lake City a large quantity of clothing, most of it entirely new. Our men, although they did not really need them, took such articles as struck their fancy. The three prisoners captured were told to help themselves to all they wanted. They thought it very strange we should reject clothing that had cost their people a vast sum of money. We explained to them that clothing was not scarce in our country. A contraband, formerly Captain Able's servant, was dumbfounded to see how little we prized a package of a dozen shirts that had been sent to a rebel officer. This same contraband gave us much valuable information relating to the enemy's force and movements, which was subsequently confirmed. While the men were engaged in their task of inspection, Colonel Henry and a few more of us adjourned to the house in which the telegraph operator had been at work, and discussed the events of the night. A rousing good fire was built, and very fortunately a bottle of whisky was discovered in one corner of the room. The three prisoners were brought in and examined, and what they said carefully noted. The family were not disturbed. Two boys came down-stairs after a while, and entertained us with their views of the war. I judged the family to be milk-and-water Union. At four A. M. “Prepare to mount!” was sounded. Captain Jenkins, of company H, Fourtieth Massachusetts, was left with his men at Ten-Mile Run, to guard the property. It seems the rebels at Finnigan did not dare to follow us. Colonel Henry proceeded a distance of ten miles, before he met the enemy. In following the main road, the railroad is crossed several times. Colonel Henry made every effort to capture a train of cars which we had been told would come down a certain distance from Lake City, for the purpose of taking up supplies. Between Ten-Mile Run and Barber's Station, two or three rails were taken up at three different places. This would not only prevent the rebels from getting off their supplies, but keep them from sending [398] troops to Henry's rear. Every mile that we now travelled, carried us one mile further from the infantry. At seven A. M. we dashed into Baldwin, a place of fifteen buildings, the largest of which is the railroad station. None of the enemy were seen. The place boasts one hotel. When we entered the town, the proprietor was asleep, and shortly after came down-stairs, only half-dressed, to find out what was going on. We captured here another telegraph operator and three instruments. We also captured three cars, two of which were filled with corn, and the other had on it a three-inch rifled gun and caisson. In the railroad depot was stored an immense quantity of supplies, and in an adjoining building we found cotton, rice, tobacco, pistols, and other property, valued at half a million of dollars. We took breakfast at the hotel, and on settling our bills, found rebel money more acceptable than our own. It so happened that we could give the landlord what he wanted, as one of our number in searching the trash in the deot came across one hundred and fifty dollars' worth of confederate notes. Twenty-seven dollars of this stuff paid for a breakfast for nine. At Baldwin, the railroad from Fernandina to Cedar Keys crosses the Florida Central. It will be seen at a glance that it is an important place for us to hold. In the afternoon, General Seymour and staff came up from Jacksonville, and later in the day, General Gillmore, with a portion of his staff. That same night, the three cars were loaded with cotton and other property, and drawn by horses to Jacksonville. Since then all the guns and camp-equipage taken at Ten-Mile Run, also much of the property captured at Baldwin, have been sent to Jacksonville. Colonel Henry left Baldwin at nine o'clock on the morning of the tenth. At a point on the railroad, four miles above Baldwin, we came across thirteen bales of cotton, and further up, near Barber's Station, we entered a building by the side of the railroad, which contained one thousand barrels.of turpentine, and five hundred pounds of bacon. All this will soon be transported to Jacksonville. We proceeded slowly up the road and kept a good look-out for bushwhackers, but did not get a sight at one. At eleven A. M., we reached the station called Barber's. Here we halted to allow the advance-guard to go ahead and see if the enemy had posted himself in a position so as to defend the South-Fork of the St. Mary's River, which lay three fourths of a mile beyond. Then followed the skirmish at the South-Fork. Captain Elder placed his guns in battery at Barber's, and the Fortieth Massachusetts regiment formed in line of battle a short distance in advance, while the Second battalion felt their way cautiously to the river. No sooner had the advance-guard of four got near the bank, when they received a volley of bullets from the rebels, who had planted themselves behind trees on the north side. At the first volley, Thomas Dean, of company C, was killed, and two others wounded. Captain Webster, of company E, had his horse shot from under him, and his shoulder-straps shot away. A plunging bullet, fired from a rebel on the top of a tree, struck the ground between Colonel Henry's feet. Colonel Henry, now familiar with the enemy's position, disposed his troops accordingly. One company of the Fortieth was dismounted and sent forward as skirmishers, the right of the road receiving particular attention, inasmuch as the conformation of the river exposed the rebel left to our fire from the right. While the Fortieth were engaged skirmishing, the battalion dashed down the road to the river, and immediately commenced fording, the bridge having been destroyed. The rebels held their ground till the battalion had nearly crossed, when they left their horses tied to trees and fled to the woods. The skirmish lasted half an hour. We lost four men killed and thirteen wounded. The list will be found below. The rebels had two killed and three wounded. The wounded were taken to a house, owned by Mr. Barber, where their wounds were dressed by the surgeon who accompanied the column. The number of rebels that opposed our crossing, was one hundred and fifty. One rebel, who was in a dying condition, told me that he had been forced into the service, and when he heard that we were on our way to Barber's urged the other rebels to throw down their arms and give themselves up as prisoners. But they told him we did not number over three hundred men, and it would be an easy matter to keep us from fording the river. We secured here about fifty horses, and gathered up a quantity of sabres, carbines, and pistols. I learn this place is called Barber's from the fact that a man named Barber formerly kept here a sort of hotel. His own house, with five or six out-houses, are the only buildings in the vicinity. Barber. left the premises on the morning of our advance. He owns twenty-five thousand head of cattle, and is reported to be the wealthiest man in the State. No one, however, would judge him to be a man of wealth after seeing the miserable hovel in which he dwelt. He is a rebel of the worst sort. At one P. M., we moved forward, and arrived at Sanderson at six P. M. Sanderson is a village a little larger than Baldwin, a railroad station, and distant from Jacksonville forty miles. The rebels had left the place fifteen minutes before we arrived. In the afternoon, the cars had been there from Lake City and taken away some government stores. Three large buildings near the depot were in flames when we arrived. One of the buildings bad in it three thousand bushels of corn, and another two thousand barrels of turpentine and resin. The remaining building contained commissary stores. The conflagration continued all that night and during the following day. In the depot we found two hundred bags of salt and fifty bushels of oats. Our horses did not suffer for forage, and as for light to enable us to look about the town, the burning buildings afforded sufficient. Sanderson was the centre to which all the forage and provisions for the State was forwarded.

We remained at Sanderson till two A. M. the next morning, and then started for Lake City. We arrived within two miles of that place, without [399] encountering the enemy, at eleven A. M. In a belt of woods, one mile and a half this side of Lake City, General Finnigan had posted his skirmishers. Captain Elder again placed his guns in battery, and the Independent battalion and Fortieth Massachusetts, as skirmishers, went forward on a reconnoissance. The enemy had a heavy line of skirmishers one mile in length, and although one company of the Fortieth broke the left of the enemy's line, it was impossible, in consequence of the paucity of our numbers, to prevent him from throwing forward his right, so as to get on our left and rear. Under the circumstances, Colonel Henry wisely decided to fall back to a distance of five miles, and await the arrival of infantry to aid him. The entire command fell back on a walk, and were covered by the Independent battalion. A dozen rebels followed in the rear, but the moment two or three of our men would make a dash at them, away they would run toward Lake City. The rebel loss at this place was two killed and several wounded. One of the killed was a signal-officer. When we crossed the railroad I saw him waving his flag. We had three slightly wounded.

Following is a complete list of our casualties from the time we left Jacksonville:

Sergeant C. C. Conkling, Co. A, Fortieth Massachusetts, killed; Thomas F. C. Dean, Co. A, Ind. battery, killed; Thomas Cahill, Co. B, Ind. battery, killed; Captain A. W. Bartlett, Co. A, Ind. battery, since dead; Richard Burns, Co. C, Ind. battery, since dead; E. Pasho, Co. C, Ind. battery; arm; Geo. W. Hankins, Co. C, Ind. battery, hand; Geo. Hutchinson, Co. C, Ind. battery, arm; Geo. E. Fernand, Co. B, Ind. battery, thigh; Sergeant F. Blaisdell, Co. B, Ind. battery, scalp; F. P. Howland, Co. A, Ind. battery, arm; Charles Pierson, Co. A, Fortieth Massachusetts, thigh; C. E. Lee, Co. D, Fortieth Massachusetts, arm;----Johnson, Co. D, Ind. battery, neck;----Wormwood, Co. D, Ind. battery.

The bivouac of Henry's command Thursday night was any thing but pleasant. It commenced raining in the afternoon, with every prospect of continuing to rain through the night. The men were weary and hungry, and there was nothing in the shape of provisions in the vicinity. The horses, too, were very much jaded. We succeeded in getting some forage at a farm-house not far off. This the poor animals disposed of with avidity. At night, Colonel Henry sent a message to General Seymour, who Was now at Sanderson, asking for further orders. He was firm in his belief that with one regiment of infantry added to his own force he could go into Lake City. He was thirty-four miles away from the infantry, and the difficulty was in getting a regiment up in season to accomplish the object aimed at. Another drawback was in getting provisions to the troops. At Sanderson the troops were forty miles away from their base, and all the supplies had to be transmitted in wagons. It was finally resolved that Henry should fall back to Sanderson. To that point several regiments of infantry had advanced.

The evacuation of Lake City by the rebels Thursday night shows how badly they were frightened. That they did evacuate the town, we have full assurance. I am told by deserters that the rebel General Finnigan was in a fearful state of trepidation, not knowing which way to turn. He had at Lake City three thousand cavalry and infantry, and yet did not dare to make a stand. He threw out a heavy line of skirmishers for the purpose of keeping our force back until he could get the government property on the way to Madison. He notified the women and children of his intention to evacuate Lake City, and offered them the facilities of a railroad-train to take them away. Every prisoner and deserter within our lines, with whom I have conversed, agrees in saying that General Finnigan is the greatest coward in the Confederacy. I have no doubt of the truth of the remark. Lake City has a population of three thousand. In a strategic point of view, it is an important place for us to hold. It is half-way between Jacksonville and Tallahassee.

I estimate the amount of rebel government property captured and destroyed thus far by the raid into Florida, will reach the value of one million and a half dollars. I will give a list of the most important items:

Two twelve-pounder rifled-guns, two six-pounder guns, one three-inch gun, two other guns, five caissons, a large quantity of ammunition, an immense supply of camp and garrison equipage, four railroad-cars, one hundred and thirteen bales of cotton, four army-wagons, one hundred and five horses and mules, a large stock of saddlery, tanning machinery, three thousand and eighty-three barrels of turpentine, six thousand bushels of corn, three large warehouses destroyed.

In the above list I have not enumerated the cattle we have slaughtered, nor the railroad-track we have destroyed, nor the officers' baggage captured, nor a thousand things which would amply warrant my estimate.

We have taken altogether, including those who have been obliged to leave the woods and bushes and give themselves up, over seventy-five prisoners. Many of them have taken the oath of allegiance. They are constantly coming in our lines, and, with few exceptions, say they have no heart to fight against the Union cause. One young fellow, who lived in Jacksonville before the war, and who, on account of poor eyesight, is obliged to wear glasses, said that did not avail against his conscription. He protested against the severity of the authorities, and after having been released once, was, six months later, put again into the ranks. The most prominent prisoner we have is Lieutenant-Colonel Ponce, who was in front of Lake City, looking at the skirmishers, in the garb of a civilian. We also have a captain of cavalry, who fought Colonel Henry's force at the South-Fork.

I have given, at some length, the work accomplished by the cavalry. It so happened the infantry did not have a chance to show its metal. If infantry ever wanted to get into a fight, this [400] infantry on the Florida expedition did, without doubt. The men were constantly murmuring because the rebels would not come out and meet them. The fact is, the rebels, having an approximate idea of our force, knew it would be useless for them to make a defence. We have every reason to believe that the enemy, if he fights at all, will choose his ground on the bank of the Suwanee River. We have information that such is his design. Lake City is not fortified, and, as I remarked before, the government property has of been sent to a point further back. The bridge over the Suwanee will, of course, be destroyed, should our troops advance, and the river is not fordable. To cross it, we must throw over a pontoon or construct a regular bridge. If we have a battle there, it will, in all probability, take place at Suwanee River, which is between Lake City and Tallahassee.

The section of country through which we have passed offers superior advantages for guerrilla warfare. A number of this despicable class of people has been seen lurking in the woods. Two of them were captured last Friday while following a negro soldier from Sanderson. A courier, going from Camp Finnigan to Jacksonville, was fired upon not far from the former place. We believe the guerrillas will soon tire of their hateful practice, as measures will be instituted showing them, if caught, no mercy whatever.

Perhaps it will be an enigma to many, how we managed to go through the country with such celerity and certainty. At the head of each column we have a guide, a man who is thoroughly versed with the country, and is acquainted with every road and by-path. The guides are, according to my best belief, loyal to the very end of their toes. It is said of one who was with our advance, that he had better military judgment than half of the generals in the field. The same guide did, in my presence, predict when the rebels would be found, and about the force they would be likely to have, which in every instance proved as he said. The guides are the most valuable auxiliaries we have in the command. I heard a woman tell one, at Sanderson, that he would be surely hung if the rebels ever got hold of him. He took it all as a joke, and replied, in a quiet way, that the rebels would find it exceedingly difficult to be assured of his company.

On Friday afternoon, a party of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, (colored,) under Captain Webster, proceeded ten miles east of Barber's, and destroyed a bridge over the St. Mary's River. The bridge was about thirty feet in length, and by its destruction the rebels will not be able to get on our right without going to considerable trouble either in the way of rebuilding the bridge or travelling a long roundabout road. On his march to the bridge, Captain Webster stopped at a farm-house, and learned from a woman that a rebel officer was in the habit of coming there frequently, and desired to get into our lines. He was expected at the house that night, and if Captain Webster would take the trouble to visit them after dark, he would confer a favor. Captain Webster complied with the request, and, sure enough, there was the rebel officer waiting to be conducted into our lines. He was taken before Colonel Barton, and, having taken the oath of allegiance, permitted to go at large.

On the march Monday night, we discerned a bright illumination of the sky at our left. I learned the next day it was occasioned by the burning of two hundred and seventy-five bales cotton taken by the rebels from the steamer St. Mary, which lay in the river St. Mary, two miles from Camp Finnigan. The steamer herself was scuttled and sunk in deep water. The captain had been in for six weeks, waiting an opportunity to run the blockade. On the advance of our troops he gave up in despair, and to prevent the cargo and vessel from coming into our possession, fired the one and sank the other. A gun which was planted to protect the stream was captured by us the next day. Most of the crew have given themselves up as deserters.

Yesterday morning the gunboat John Adams came in from Fernandina with a locomotive and several cars to be used on the Florida Central Railroad. The rails on this road are in good condition, and have been little used. The track at the Jacksonville end, and that portion which Colonel Henry destroyed, also a half-mile which General Seymour ordered to be burned just above Sanderson, are the only breaks between Jacksonville and Lake City. In a day or two we shall have a train running to our front with supplies. The telegraph is in operation from Jacksonville to Sanderson.

The President's amnesty proclamation will be extensively circulated through Florida. A large supply has just arrived from Washington, and packages have already been sent to the front. I doubt not we shall see a most favorable effect produced by its distribution.

On Thursday the steamer Nelly Baker proceeded up St. John's River, a distance of thirty-five miles from Jacksonville, to a place called Green Cove Spring. Two companies of infantry were on board. Medical Director Swift was in command of the force. After landing, the party went to one of the principal hotels of the place, and discovered therein eighteen barrels of sugar and three barrels of resin, which was brought away in the vessel the same day. Three families of refugees, with their furniture, were also taken off. They had been expecting our forces would go there for some days. The location has been famous in its day as a watering-place. A large sulphur-spring is in the vicinity, around which are bath-houses. The place also has three hotels, each of which is capable of accommodating two hundred guests. The principal hotel is hardly finished, and has never been used. None of the enemy were seen. The rebel Major Phillips had a camp of men near by not long since. The property brought away was marked “Baldwin.” The hospital transport Cosmopolitan on the following day went up the same river to a place called Picolata. The troops did not land. [401] They heard of a large quantity of cotton and turpentine that was in the interior. The vessel was piloted by a negro.

General Seymour's orders.

headquarters District Florida, Jacksonville, Fla., February 17, 1864.
General orders, no. 5.

The Brigadier-General Commanding heartily congratulates his command on the brilliant success which has attended all their movements thus far into Florida. Three flags, eight guns, with caissons, battery-wagons, and forge; many wagons and horses, and much subsistence, stores, and clothing have fallen into our hands, besides large amounts of cotton, turpentine, and resin. Property valued at over one and a half millions of dollars is the fruit of the success.

To Colonel Guy V. Henry and his command, the battalion of Massachusetts cavalry, under Major Stevens, the Fortieth Massachusetts mounted volunteers, and to Captain Elder, First artillery, and his battery, this achievement is principally due; and the Brigadier-General Commanding especially desires to praise Captain George E. Marshall, company E, Fortieth Massachusetts mounted volunteers, and his small command of forty-nine men, who captured and held Gainesville for fifty-six hours, receiving and repulsing an attack from more than double his force, and, after fulfilling his mission successfully, returning to the designated place of rendezvous. These deeds will be among those remembered by us with the greatest pleasure and honor, and the command may emulate but can hardly expect to surpass them.

By order of

Brigadier-General T. Seymour.
Official: R. M. Hall, First Lieutenant First Artillery, U. S. A., Asst. Adjt.-General.

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