MARCH 3, 1862.-Evacuation of Amelia Island, Fla., by the Confederate forces.
No. 1.-Brigadier General James H. Trapier, C. S. Army.
No. 2.-Colonel Edward Hopkins, Fourth Florida Infantry.
No. 1. Report of Brigadier General James H. Trapier, C. S. Army.
HEADQUARTERS PROVISIONAL FORCE,
Tallahassee, Fla., March 28, 1862.
MAJOR: In consequence of the illness of Colonel Edward Hopkins, Fourth Regiment Florida Volunteers, the officer in command of the post at Amelia Island at the time of its evacuation by our troops, I have had no official report from him. I have the honor, however, to submit for the information of the commanding general the following narrative of the events attending that operation, which, derived from sources entitled to credence, may be regarded as altogether authentic:
On the evening of February 23 I received by telegraph orders from General R. E. Lee, then commanding the military department in which Middle and East Florida are embraced, dated February 19, to withdraw from the islands, securing the artillery, &c. This order was extended forthwith, at the hands of a special messenger, to the officer commanding the post at Amelia and Talbot Islands and to Colonel Charles H. McBlair, Provisional Army, commanding the batteries, with instructions to dismantle the batteries with all possible expedition and caution, and then to withdraw the troops and abandon the post.
On the fourth day after this order was received at Amelia Island the enemy made his appearance simultaneously in the inland passage between Cumberland Island and the main-land (having come in at Saint Andrew's Sound) and off the main entrance into Cumberland Sound, the principal approach from the sea to the town of Fernandina. At this time there had been dismounted, and in great part removed from the island, all the guns that bore upon this approach. These were the most effective batteries, and without them it was deemed by the officers in council that it would be fruitless to attempt the defense of the place. The order was accordingly given for the troops to retire from the island, which they did in good order and without the loss of a single man. The garrison from the adjacent island (Talbot) was withdrawn with equal success.
Of heavy ordnance upon these islands there were, including a battery of field pieces, 33 guns. Of these, 18 were saved, thus showing a loss of but 15 guns, a fact which, in view of our very limited means of transportation and the extreme difficulty of removing heavy ordnance, or, indeed, ordnance of any description, over sand hills, reflects, in my judgment, high credit upon the officers to whom was assigned this arduous duty; and besides the guns, there were saved also all the powder and most of the shot and shell, some of the carriages, implements, &c. When it is remembered that all this was accomplished in four days and nights, under the most adverse circumstances, no other conclusion can be formed than that the utmost energy, industry, and vigor were exhibited by both officers and men.
Five of the guns were, however, I regret to add, subsequently lost.