department directs that you make preparations for the early withdrawal of your forces from Jacksonville, Fla., the exact time and manner of which is left to your own judgment, the proper precautions being taken to avoid the appearance of a retreat; to bring off all your stores and supplies, and have the withdrawal completed within some two or three days after the receipt of this order. Your attention will then be directed to the proper re-enforcing of Saint Augustine and Fernandina. At the former place it is believed that at least 600 men may be necessary, though perhaps you may deem it expedient that 700 or 800 should be left, or, say, a small regiment, if you have one, under a judicious and reliable commander.
At Fernandina it is believed that 900 to 1,000 men will be sufficient, but 1,200 may, in your judgment, be necessary; which force you will select and place under a proper commander. Return yourself to this place with the balance of your command, unless you should feel that it was of great importance to the safety of Fernandina that you should continue for the present at that post. It being the intention to hold permanently the posts of Saint Augustine and Fernandina, you will distribute your supplies of provisions, ammunition, &c., between these two posts, leaving the supply for the longer time at Saint Augustine, if practicable, to the extent of some 50 or 60 days for the provisions, your troops, if possible, being so shipped at Jacksonville as to avoid any necessity for a transfer before reaching that place. It is the desire of the commander of the department that you should notify the people of Jacksonville on leaving that place that it is his intention to have all the aid and protection afforded to the loyal inhabitants of the interior of Florida that is practicable from the posts above named for the security of their personas and property and for the punishment of outrages, and that you should notify all persons in that vicinity that we hold them responsible for the preservation of order and quiet, being fully determined that any outrages upon persons or property contrary to the laws and usages of war shall be visited fourfold upon the inhabitants of disloyal or doubtful character nearest the scene of any such wrongs when the actual and known perpetrators cannot be discovered. As Commodore DuPont promises that his gunboats shall remain in the Saint John's River, it is very possible that this force may be sufficient, with proper efforts on the part of the inhabitants themselves, for the security of that city.
Lieutenant Tardy is directed to go in the boat which carries this, for the purpose of accompanying the re-enforcements to Saint Augustine, that he may there put such repairs as can be conveniently added for its defense, change traverse circles from the water battery to the interior work, &c.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. BENHAM,
HEADQUARTERS, Jacksonville, Fla., April 3, 1862.
Captain LOUIS H. PELOUZE,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Hdqrs. Ex. Corps, Hilton Head, S. C.:
CAPTAIN: If East Florida is to be permanently occupied by United States forces, it is desirable and, indeed, necessary that certain civil offices should be promptly filled. Questions are constantly arising which should not be left to the decision of the military commander, as they belong to a civil and not a military jurisdiction, and require a