War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0501 Chapter XVI. RECONNAISSANCE ON SANTA ROSA ISLAND, FLA.

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arrival had now precluded all possibility of the surprise, and here I received a message by Lieutenant Gibbs from Lieutenant Jackson that two rebel spies had been in the vicinity of his command and a party had been detached for their capture-unsuccessfully. I directed the two boats to be returned to the outside beach, Company K, Sixth Regiment New York Volunteers, to proceed to my camp, while I took Company D, Sixth New York Volunteers, and the regulars, with the rifled gun, 2 miles farther up, crossed the island, and put the gun into position on the inside beach, directly opposite the rebel camp, and about 250 yards from it. I remained here until their huts could be seen in the dawn, and then directed Lieutenant Jackson to open fire. The shells burst right in their midst. Loud cries and yells were heard, and the rebels could be barely seen through the brush in their shirt-tails making rapidly into the back country. A scattering volley was fired from what I supposed to be their guard, who then disappeared also.

After shelling the vicinity thoroughly I returned to my camp. My supply of rations and forage was nearly exhausted, the mules nearly broken down by a very severe pull of 40 miles through the heavy sand on the beach. I therefore sent all my sick men (some 6) and all the bedding I could spare to the schooner, and started on my return. Late on Monday afternoon Lieutenant Appleton reported a schooner making its way up the sound. The rifled gun was taken over to the inside beach and Lieutenant Jackson directed to open fire. The range ran from 1,800 to 3,000 yards, but the firing was very satisfactory; the schooner was several times struck, her small boat hit, but after firing some twelve shots it became so dusky that she could be no longer distinguished.

On Tuesday afternoon I reached Fort Pickens.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain, First Artillery.

Lieutenant R. H. JACKSON,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Dept. of Florida.

The instructions given me by Lieutenant Jackson interfered somewhat with any very close observation. The island varied in width, so far as I had an opportunity to notice, from half a mile to 500 yards; is cut up by sand ridges, so as to make the passage of teams across very difficult and generally impossible; furnishes good water in pools or by digging in the depressions; but very little grass indeed, and that very coarse. The only practicable road for teams, in the direction of its length, is along the outside beach, and that generally is excessively heavy and quite narrow, and in many places at full tide impassable for any ordinary load. The condition of the horses and mules of my command furnishes some evidence of the character of this road. In many places the island is perfectly open, in others screened from the main-land by ridges of sand hills and fringes of forest. The sound is in width from 3 miles to 300 yards, I should judge. The narrowest point is about 40 miles from the fort. Here the rebel camp was located. It is nowhere fordable; navigable for its whole extent for vessels of 7 feet draught, the channel running generally close along the main-land.

These remarks are the result of my own observation and information of the guides, and a thorough examination might not substantiate them.

All of which is respectfully submitted.


Captain, First Artillery.