War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0663 Chapter XVI. PENSACOLA, FLA.

Search Civil War Official Records



May 15, 1862.

I have the honor to transmit, with my approval, the foraging report of Brigadier General T. M. Jones of the evacuation of Pensacola.

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


Brigadier-General, Commanding.

General S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.


May 24, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor respectfully to acknowledge the receipt of the following dispatch from the Honorable Secretary of Wara, refereed to me by the general commanding the department:

The President desires that you inquire into the reported destruction of the ewelling-houses in the navy-yard at Pensacola and many houses in the town on its evacuation. He is determined to punish the wanton, useless destruction of property by our officers (which we fear has reached a great and most injurious extent to property) which would merely prove a convenience to the enemy, the which inflicts great and lasting injury to our own people not be destroyed. Cotton, tobacco, and navy stores should always be destroyed if in danger of falling into the hands of the enemy.

In answering this dispatch I might rely, I think, on the plain statement of facts set forth in my report of the evacuation, as it meets the requirements made upon me by yourself, but something further in relation to the orders under which I acted may not be improper.

On assuming command at Pensacola, 9th of March last, written and verbal instructions were given me by Major General Samuel Jones, in both of which the property the War Department desired to be destroyed was particularly and specially designated. In these instructions the dwelling-houses in the navy-yard were not only named, but were actually prepared for conflagration by having combustibles placed in them. Certain private and public property in Pensacola was also named. A dispatch from the honorable the Secretary of War, dated 6th instant, so modified my instructions as to require me not to destroy private property and dwellings at Pensacola. This dispatch was literally obeyed and respected, for not a single dwelling was touched intentionally in the town; one very small house which stood near the oil factory was consumed, I learn, in spite of the most strenuous efforts to prevent it. So decided and specific were my instructions to the officer in command at Pensacola, that several houses embraced in the orders for destruction were not fired at all for of endangering private property.

That the President is displeased at the houses belonging to the Government in the navy-yard being burnt I most sincerely regret, since my most ardent desire was so to execute my orders as to give entire satisfaction to those above me, and for this I labored unremittingly for two month, sleeping only at intervals in the day-time at such moments as I could snatch, as it were from the incessant demands made upon my energies. I flatted myself that I had succeed until the telegram from the Honorable Secretary of War received, three days after the evacuation, ordering, that the dwellings in the navy-yard that the dwelling in the navy-yard be not destroy. Having served as a soldier for fourteen years, I scarce know how to disobey orders; and in destroying this property (the propriety of which I