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gan, though he had 3,000 men, fell back from Lake City that night. Whether he did so or not, the belief that he did probably misled Seymour into his great blunder thereafter. Gillmore had followed his lieutenant down to Jacksonville and out so far as Baldwin;" returning directly to Jacksonville, and thence" to Hilton IIead; without a shadow of suspicion that Seymour contemplated, or (without orders) would attempt, a farther advance. In fact, he had telegraphed to Gillmore from Sanderson on the 12th that
“I last night ordered Col. Henry to fall back to this point. I am destroying all public property here, and shall go back to the South fork of St. Mary’s as soon as Henry returns. I hope he will be in this morning.”
Gillmore at once responded:
“I want your command at and beyond Baldwin concentrated at Baldwin without delay.” Seymour replied, insisting that “To leave the south fork of the St. Mary's will make it impossible for us to advance again ;” but intimated no purpose to make such advance without orders. more thereupon returned to Hilton Head; and was very soon thunderstruck by receiving" a letter from Seymour, saying that he had been compelled to remain where his men could be fed; but adding “Not enough supplies could be accumulated to permit me to execute my intention of moving to the Suncanee ricer. But I now propose to go without supplies;” and asking that an iron-clad demonstration be made up the Savannah, to prevent the dispatch of Rebel forces from Georgia to Finnegan Gillmore at once wrote him a strong remonstrance against the mad
ness of his project—which was, in effect, to pit his (at most) 6,000 disposable men against whatever force the Rebels, with all Georgia and Alabama to draw from, and railroads at command, might see fit to concentrate upon him. Gen. Turner was sent post-haste with this letter; but it was too late. When he reached Jacksonville, he met there tidings that Seymour was already fighting at OLUSTEE. Seymour had left Barber's (the south fork aforesaid) that morning," with a few short of 5,000 men; advancing westward along the highway which runs generally parallel with the railroad, frequently crossing it, till about 2 P. M., when the head of his column ran square into the dead-fall which Finnegan had set for him. Our men were faint with hunger and a hard march of 16 miles over miry or sandy ground, until, two or three miles east of Olustee station, our van reached a point where the railroad is carried straight through a long cypress swamp, while the wagon-road makes a square turn to the right, crossing the railroad, in order to avoid and flank the swamp. IIere Finnegan had disposed his men, under cover of the swamp and adjacent pine forest, with his flanks thoroughly protected by the former and by a lakelet known as Ocean Pond; while our men, rushing heedlessly, headlong on, were at close quarters before they suspected that they were to be seriously resisted. Our strength lay in artillery, whereof we had 16 pieces to 4–Finnegan having lost most of his in his hasty retreat from Camp Finnegan– but our guns were rushed up to the
* Feb. 9. * Feb. 15.
* Feb. 18—dated Feb 17. 9 Feb. 20
very edge of the woods which concealed and sheltered the foe, so that their sharp-shooters picked off the artillerists and shot down the horses as though enjoying a sportsman's battue; while our infantry, half formed, and not well armed, were pushed into the slaughter-pen with equal stupidity. Had our line been formed half a mile back from the enemy's, and there simply held while our gunners shelled the woods, we might not have achieved a brilliant success, but we could not have been beaten ; but IIamilton's battery went into action, under a hèavy fire of musketry, barely 150 yards from the Rebel front, and in 20 minutes had lost 40 out of 50 horses and 45 out of S2 men—when what was left of it recoiled; leaving 2 of its 4 guns where its life-blood had been blunderingly squandered. And this was a fair specimen of the generalship displayed on our side throughout. Col. Isenry's cavalry (40th Mass.), with Maj. Stevens's battalion, and the 7th Conn. (infantry), Col. J. R. IIawley, were in the advance, and drew the first fire of the mainly concealed enemy. Hawley, finding his regiment falling under a concentric fire, ordered up the 7th New Hampshire, Col. Abbott, to its support; Hamilton's, Elder's, and Langdon's batteries also coming into action. The 7th N. II. was a tried and trusty regiment; but it had been lately deprived of its beloved Spencer repeating rifles, and armed instead with Springfield muskets which it pronounced in bad order and unfit for service; so it was not in good condition for maintaining a position in which it was rapidly losing at least
* Pollard says, “Just then [4 P.M.], our y
ten men for every one of the enemy it had even a chance to hit. It was soon demoralized; when Hawley ordered up the 8th U. S. colored, Col. Chas. W. Fribley—a regiment never before under fire. It held its position in front for an hour and a half, losing 350 killed or wounded (its Colonel mortally); when Col. Barton led his brigade, consisting of the 48th (his own), 49th, and 115th New York, hitherto on the right, into the hottest forefront of the battle. Col. Sammons, of the 115th, was among the first of his regiment disabled; 7 of its captains or lieutenants were killed or wounded; one of its companies lost 32 out of 59 men. The 47th had its Col. (Moore) wounded, and 6 captains or lieutenants killed or disabled. Our left column, Col. Montgomery, came last into the fight, just in time to stop a Rebel charge. The 54th Mass. went in first, followed by the 1st N. C. (both Black). They were of course overpowered; but the latter left its Col., Lt.-Col., Major, and Adjutant, dead on the field. It was admitted that these two regiments had saved our little army from being routed. For Seymour—who had fought with reckless gallantry throughout, rushing from point to point, wherever IRebel bullets flew thickest—profited by their charge to rčestablish what remained of his batteries farther to the rear; and now, giving four parting volleys of grape and canister, he ordered a retreat; which was covered by the 7th Connecticut, and executed deliberately, and without effective pursuit.” We brought off 1,000 of our wounded, and probably left 250 more, beside
[Rebel] ammunition became exhausted.”
quite as many, dead or dying, to the mercy of the Rebels and the vultures.” The enemy admitted a loss of but 80 killed and 650 wounded.
Seymour retreated nearly or quite to
Jacksonville, burning provisions, &c., worth at least $1,000,000. And that virtually ended all hope of the recovery of Florida to the Union before the entire collapse of the Tebellion. Few disasters were encountered during the War so utterly inexcusable. It was Braddock's defeat repeated, after the lapse of a century. Our soldiers fought as well as ever men ought to fight; they were abundantly able to have routed the enemy; they were simply sacrificed by a leader brave to rashness, and possessing every soldierly quality but the ability to plan and direct the movements of an independent force. Left to himself, he was fit only to afford fresh verification of the old axiom, that, against stupidity, even the gods are impotent. And now, President Lincoln—who had never dreamed of such a folly—was assailed and held up to execration as having fooled away 2,000 men in a sordid attempt to manufacture for himself three additional votes in the approaching Presidential election.
During this Winter, extensive saltworks in West Bay, near St. Andrew's sound, belonging to the Confederate Government, and making 400 bushels per day, were destroyed by order of Rear-Admiral Bailey, with certain private salt-works in that vicinity; also, salt-works on Lake Ocola: the whole being valued at $3,000,000.
* Pollard says we left 350 dead on the field, and that they took 500 prisoners—(including
Next Summer,” Gen. Birney, under orders from Gen. Foster, moved out from Jacksonville to Callahan station, on the Fernandina railroad, burning bridges, two cars, &c.; and a number of petty raids were made from Jacksonville to Whitesville, and to the south fork of the St. Mary's; while, ultimately, Baldwin and Camp Milton were occupied for a season by detachments of our forces; and several skirmishes took place, but with no decided advantage to either party. A meeting at Jacksonville, May 20th, had assumed the style and title of a State Convention of the Unionists of Florida, and deputed six delegates to represent her in the Union National Convention at Baltimore— which some of them did, to their own undoubted satisfaction. But, to all practical intents, the battle of Olustee was the first and last
event of consequence that happened.
in Florida during the year 1864, and thence to the close of the war.
In South Carolina, while the longrange firing at Charleston from Morris island and the surrounding forts was lazily and irregularly kept up through most of the year, eliciting fitful responses from Rebel forts and batteries, there was no movement of importance; save that, in July, four brigades (Birney's, Saxton's, Hatch's, and Schimmelfennig's) were quietly assembled from the sea islands held by us and from Florida, pushed" over to Seabrook island, and thence, attended by two gunboats on the North Edisto, to John's island, and so to a place called Deckerville," two miles west of Legaréville. The weather
wounded, of course;) with 5 guns and 2,000 small arms. "July 20. *July 2. “July 4.
was intensely hot; the dusty roads lined by thick brush, which excluded air, yet afforded little or no shade; so that marches of barely 5 or 6 miles per day were accomplished with great fatigue and peril. Our men had no cannon. A Rebel battery, well supported, was found in position three miles north-west of Legaréville; which the 26th U. S. Colored was finally sent” forward to take, and made five spirited charges upon, losing 97 killed and wounded. But they were 600 without cannon, against an equal force strongly posted, with 4 ns; so they were worsted, and their Col. (Silliman) falling from sunstroke, they were called off; and the expedition returned," after parading about the islands for another week. What it meant, if it meant any thing, or why force enough was not sent up to take the Tebel battery, if that was deemed desirable, remains among the mysteries of strategy. The foolish, wasteful fight was called by our men ‘The Battle of Bloody Bridge.”
In North Carolina—our forces here having been slender since Foster's 12,000 veterans were made over to the South Carolina department in 1863—the initiative was taken this year by Gen. Pickett, commanding the Rebel department, who suddenly struck” our outpost at Bachelor's creek, 8 miles above Newbern, held by the 132d New York, carrying it by assault, and making 100 prisoners. Following up his success, he threatened Newbern; and a force under Capt. Wood actually carried, by boarding from boats, the fine gunboat Underwriter, lying close to the wharf, and under the fire of three
batteries scarcely 100 yards distant. Those batteries opening upon her, while she had no steam up, the captors could do no better than fire and destroy her. Pickett now drew off, without trying his strength against the defenses of Newbern; claiming to have killed and wounded 100 of our men, captured 280, with two guns, 300 small arms, &c., and destroyed a gunboat of 800 horse-power, mounting 4 heavy guns—-all at a cost of 35 killed and wounded. The next blow was struck at Plymouth, near the mouth of the Roanoke, which was held for the Union by Gen. Wessells, with the S5th New York, 101st and 103d Penn., 16th Conn., and 6 companies from other regiments—in all 2,400 men. It was a fairly fortified position; while the gunboats Southfield, Miami, and Bombshell, were anchored in the river opposite. Gen. R. F. IIoke, with three infantry brigades, a regiment of cavalry, and 7 batteries—in all, at least 7,000 men—advanced against it so stealthily that he was within two miles" before Wessells was apprised of his danger. The mailed ram Albemarle, coming down the Roanoke, took part in the attack. Fort Warren, our up-river outpost, was first assailed; and our gunboat Bombshell, going to its assistance, was disabled by the fire of the Rebel artillery. While the fight here was still in progress, IIoke opened on Fort Wessells, a mile farther down, which was repeatedly charged in immense force; but every assault was repulsed with great slaughter. At length, however, this fort was so completely and closely surrounded by
* July 7. * July 14.
17 Feb. 1. * April 17.
he enemy's infantry, with their guns ut 200 yards distant, that it was }rced to surrender. Hoke vigorously pressed the siege. oon, the Albemarle, Capt. Cooke, an down by Fort Warren and enaged our two remaining gunboats, f 8 guns each, striking the Southeld, Lt. French, so heavily as to nk her; then, turning on the Mimi, killed Lt.-Com'r Flusser, and disbled many of her crew; when she ed down the river. The Albemarle len shelled the town with her rifled 2s, doing considerable execution. Next morning,” IIoke pushed for'ard all his batteries, and opened on he town and our remaining forts at ,100 yards: IRansom, with one brigde, assaulting on the right, and [oke, with two, going in on the left. y a desperate effort, in the face of a murderous fire, the two outer forts, lounting 8 guns, were carried at a eavy cost, and their garrisons made risoners. A rush was then made on he town; which was likewise carried; nd at length Fort Williams—which as still mowing down the assailants ith grape and case-shot—was so eneloped and enfiladed that nothing remained for Wessells but to surrender. he fruits of the victory were 1,600 fective prisoners, 25 guns, at least ,000 small arms, and some valuable iores. The Rebels admitted a loss ere of only 300. Our combatants stimated it at fully 1,000, and say ‘e had but 100 killed and wounded. As a consequence of this disaster, Washington, at the head of Pamlico und, was soon evacuated by Gen. almer;” some of our departing soliers disgracing themselves and their ag by arson and pillage ere they left.
Capt. Cooke, of the Albemarle, being naturally somewhat inflated by his easy triumph ever two unmailed gunboats, our remaining gunboats in those waters, under Capt. Melancthon Smith, were disposed to tempt him to a fresh encounter, on more equal terms. They had not long to wait for it. The Mattabesett, Sassacus, and Wyalusing, were lying 20 miles off the mouth of the Roanoke, when our picket-boats, which had been sent up the river to decoy the ram from under the protecting batteries of Plymouth, reported her coming;" and soon she was descried bearing down, accompanied by the river steamboat Cotton Plant, and what was lately our gunboat Bombshell. The former—being too frail for such an encounter—put back, with her 200 sharp-shooters and boarders, to Plymouth; and the contest began. The Albemarle was heavily iron-clad and armed with very large Whitworth guns; and our vessels of course played around her, seeking to inject their iron into her weakest quarter: the Sassacus taking occasion to pour one broadside at close range into the Bombshell, which compelled her to strike her flag and fall out of the range of fire. After a spirited cannonade at short range, the Sassacus struck the Albemarle at full speed, crowding her hull under water, but not sinking her. And now these life-and-death wrestlers exchanged 100-pound shots at five or six paces; the gunners of the Sassacus watching for the opening of a port by the Albemarle, and trying—sometimes with success—to fire a shell or shot into it before it could be closed again; as, from the ram's mailed sides or deck,
* April 20.
* April 28.