previous next

The Federal Excursion into Florida.

The Jacksonville (Fia,) Peninsula, a Yankee paper established since the occupation of that town, has advertisements by Jas Remington, "U S Marshal," to sell the property of Hon David L Yuice, Gen Jas Flanagan, and other. The same paper contains the following history of Birney's devastating raid into Florida:

‘ On Tuesday, April 28, Gen Birney having received information from scouts and deserters of an intended rebel movement across the river St Johns, and having also collected accurate detailed as to the localities where cotton and cattle were to be found, left Jacksonville and ascended the river as far as Welaka, 110 miles from the mouth. On his way up he stationed pickets at every point where the enemy could have possibly crossed the river, to protect his communication, and to guard against the laying of torpedoes. As Welaka he quitted his vessels, which from the could get no further, and moved in the interior with a strong body of cavalry and infantry, collecting cattle and cotton, until he reached Lake Henry, 200 miles from Jacksonville. From there he crossed the country to Smyrna on Mosquito Inlet, where he captured two blockade and a large quantity of cotton. --From Smyrna he proceeded Northward to St Augustine, and from thence to Jacksonville, where he arrived on Friday, May 3rd after an absence of ten days. The main result of this raid, besides a large amount of cotton, is a supply of not less than 5,000 head of cattle. No casually occurred to the success of the enterprise. A number of negroes, liberated slaves, were brought in, and a considerable band of local Floridian as who had been hiding in the woods from the conscription, joined Gen Birney on his march and rendered valuable assistance as guides and cattle drivers.

’ The following details of the raid we are permitted to copy from a private letter written by Hen A G Browne U S Treasury agent, who accompanied Gen Bieney as a volunteer aid and also to look after captured and abandoned rebel property:

‘ The expedition started from Jacksonville a little before midnight on Tuesday, April 26th The gunboat Ottawa led the way up the river, by the transport steamer very Benton and Herriet Weed. The Mary Benton carried a considerable force of negro troop and had six large boats in low. At Picolata the Harriet Weed took on board a detachment of the 75th N Y, and some mounted infantry. As we went up we took possession of every boat on the west side of the Johns, including a small stoop which, no doubt, was the boat used by the rebels in laying torpedoes in the river. At Welaka, which is on the east bank of the river, about 90 miles above Jacksonville, we arrived on Wednesday afternoon and immediately landed the troops. We here a quantity of cotton and put it on board of one of our steamers. The next night reached Sanders, where we quartered our serves on an old hoary headed, virulen rebel, who said if he were young he would fight us for twenty years. He had a young and very beautiful wite, and two fine children of the ages of 11 and 13, neither of whom could read or write. The next morning we liberated the slaves of this old traitor and confiscated two of his horses.

’ Passing by the house of a Union woman, a widow, we were greeted with delight by her and her daughter, one of whom, though simple and even coarsely dressed, attracted a universal admiration from the army by her extraordinary personal beauty.

I may remark in passing that my observation of the people during this expedition has modified my previous notions of the "Crackers" The men are generally fine looking, tall, manly fellows, and in spits of their want of education, intelligent and clear headed. Those that we met were almost all for the Union without slavery. Hundreds of these men are now hid in the woods, many of them deserters from the rebel army. We have now about fifty or them with us as scouts and guides come of them splendid fellows. Gen Birney believes, and Lagree with him, that if he has arms supplied him he can raise men enough in East to clear it of rebels and protect it from invasion. He understands these people and knows how to manage them "Out of my presence, and find you its tining again to my conversation I will hang you to the nearest tree," said he to day in a tone of thunder and with the effect of a flash of lightning to a suspicious, sneaking fellow, who had been prowling about headquarters, a sort of "half and half." as such fellows are here called white the General was talking with some Union men. He was probably a spy, and I think if the General could be satisfied on that point he would hang him, and then sit down to his sweet potatoes and milk as coolly as if he had killed a mosquito.

The next day we were joined by a large number of Union men. We stopped for the night at the house of a farmer, a deserter from the rebel army, who had been hiding in the woods for more than two months.

The next day we stopped at the house of a rebel beef contractor whom we had hoped to catch, but who was unfortunately absent. We took dinner there, and as we were about to depart the General said to the rebel wife. "Madame, are these women your slaves ?" She answered " I suppose so, sic," "Suppose no longer," said he, and then turning to the two women, who with their children were standing by: "You and your husbands and children are free; as free as this woman, who says she supposes you are her slaves God and the United States Government give you your freedom and now, madam," turning to the need contractor's wife, "tell your husband when he comes back, that if he a tempts to run these people off I will hang him" "What shall I do without slaves ? " said the lady in a subdued voice. "Hire free men and women, hire these women and their husbands and pay them wages if they are willing to work for you. They are no more bound to work for you than you are for them"

Much or the country through which we passed was exceedingly beautiful park they with glades, and abounding in wild and picturesque faxes, fed by springs. We saw a great deal of game, including deer, squirrels, wild turkeys, geese, and a variety of birds of rich plumage, among them the green parquet.

At Garden Spring we admired the magnificent spring that gives its name to the place, with its water as clear as crystal and running out with such force that it carries a grist and extensive cotton gins and yet appears capable of doing much more. Our object here was to capture the proprietor, Starke, a notorious rebel, but he had removed with his slaves and corn only a few days before.--We captured here, however, 18 bales or Sea 1st and cotton, besides as much more unpinned, At this place we met by appointment Cot Harris, who had crossed over from at Augustine with a large force of the 75th and 25th Ohio mounted infantry. A detachment of the 17th Connecticut also joined us from Volusia.

We captured next day a rebel messenger which important letters relating to blockade runners, the perusal of which determined the General to push on rapidly to Sunday evening, May 1st, where we camped. A detachment was ordered to advance at daylight upon the place to occur the cotton stored there. A considerable quantity was captured, and in the Lagoon, a short distance from the town, we took two schooners, blockade runners, from Nassau. They were both crammed with cotton and their decks were maded with it. These vessels, the Fannie and the Shell, were eventuality sent to Jacksonville, and the cotton take in charge of by the Treasury Agency. I took passage on one of them from Smyrna to the St Johns river, and consequently ended thus my connection with Gen Birney's raid. And of this raid I wish to say, in conclusion, that no enterprise was ever better planned and more thoroughly carried out. It has cleared the country East of the Johns of rebels, has relieved and encouraged the Unionists of Florida, and has put into the hands of the Government not less than worth of property in cotton and cattle.

A correspondent of the Macon Telegraph, writing from Tallahassee under date of the 15th instant, gives the following interesting items from Florida:

‘ There cannot be many Yankee troops now in Jacksonville. We captured in a skirmish last week seven of their cavalry, or rather mounted infantry, they having dismounted their cavalry there and sent the men to Virginia. The reason assigned by the prisoners was that the old cavalry deserted too often. It is evident that the coast has been stripped of all the veteran force to reinforce Grant in Virginia.

Gen P Anderson, who commands the district of Florida, has his army well in hand, and is most right. In the matter of details and furloughs, and means to have all the strength of his command on the spot.

The news from the East is that the enemy have landed a cavalry force near camps, and also a force below at Augustine. Their object is to gather up the cattle, deserters, and traitors, and if not soon driven back will prove a damage to us.--A force now gathering will no doubt make their trips dangerous.

Prisoners taken at Jacksonville a few days since say that there are no more than 1,500 troops there --500 negroes and the remainder are Yankees — but they are well fortified. A gunboat lies opposite the town. Some citizens are there keeping store and running a saw-mill. There are some renegade citizens also who mix with them and are satisfied with the powers that be.

The Government is now at work building the contraction between the Florida and the Gulf roads, (distance forty-six-miles,) which, being already graded and no bridges, ought to be soon. This will be a great advantage, both military and civil.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Gen Birney (5)
Herriet Weed (1)
Starke (1)
Sanders (1)
Jas Remington (1)
Harris (1)
Grant (1)
Gen (1)
Gen Jas Flanagan (1)
Hon David (1)
Browne (1)
Gen Bieney (1)
Benton (1)
St Augustine (1)
Anderson (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March, 5 AD (1)
January, 5 AD (1)
April 28th (1)
April 26th (1)
15th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: