HDQRS. PROV. FORCES, DEPT. EAST AND MIDDLE FLA.,
Tallahassee, Fla. September 15, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that on Saturday morning, the 6th instant, I moved from this place with a detachment of Captain Gamble's light artillery and two 12-pounder rifle guns, under command of Lieutenant Villepigue, and two 8-inch howitzers, removed from the battery at Saint Mark's. At Lake City I took with me two 32-pounder rifle guns, previously sent there, and proceeded to the Saint John's River at Jacksonville. There I ordered a detachment of Captain Dunham's company-the Milton Artillery-to accompany me to work the two 32-pounder rifle guns and the two 8-inch howitzers, and placed the whole force under the command of Captain Dunham. The guns and necessary ammunition were crossed over the river at Jacksonville in flats on Sunday, and the command proceeded down the east bank of the Saint John's to Saint John's Bluff, about 5 miles from its mouth, where two of the enemy's gunboats were lying at anchor. The command was supported by the three companies of Captain Brevard, by Captain Westcott's company of Partisan Rangers, by Captain Stephens' company of cavalry, and by Captain Richard's company of the First Florida Special Battalion, ordered to accompany it to guard against a land attack. I remained with the expedition to give it my personal supervision.
On Tuesday night [9th] the six gun were placed in position on Saint John's Bluff, where, the ammunition supplies and the whole force had been concentrated without the observation of the enemy.
At 10 o'clock Wednesday morning, finding that our movement was still undiscovered by the enemy, I went back to Jacksonville, to have two 8-inch columbiads and two 8-inch howitzers, which I had brought from the Upper Saint John's in contemplation of this movement, brought down to the bluff, hoping to place them in position before we were discovered by the enemy.
On Wednesday, about 8 p. m., one of the gunboats approached within three-fourths of a mile of the bluff, as was usual with her, and threw nine shells on the point. Our men did not reply, but remained quiet.
At daylight [11th] our guns open don her, when she immediately move doubt of range; not, however, before she was struck several times. Signals were immediately made by her to the other gunboat and they both moved up an attacked the batteries. The engagement continued for four and a half hours, resulting in the crippling of one boats and driving the other off. Little or no damage was done to the batteries, and the loss of life on our side was 1 man killed and 8 slightly wounded.
I regret to report that Captain J. H. McRory, acting engineer officer, who rendered valuable services, was seriously injured by an accidental bayonet wound while sliding down an embankment.
Captain Dunham, in command, behaved with great coolness and bravery, as did also Captain Richard, commanding a section of the heavy guns; Lieutenant Villepigue, commanding a section of Gamble's battery; Lieutenant Stevens, of Milton Artillery, command section of heavy guns, and Lieutenant T. E. Buckman, ordnance officer, acting adjutant of the command, to whom much credit is due.
The large guns have been sent down, and I hop the battery is by this time strong enough to resist any attack that may be made.
The officers report their several commands to have behaved with gallantly while under fire.