Nobody knows anything about these men who has not seen them in battle. I find that I myself knew nothing. There is a fiery energy about the beyond anything of which I have ever read, except it be the French Zouaves. It requires the strictest discipline to hold them in hand. During our first attack on the river, before I had got them all penned below, they crowded at the open ends of the steamer, loading and firing with inconceivable rapidity, and shouting to each other, "Never give it up." When collected into the hold they actually fought each other for places at the few port-holes from which they could fire on the enemy. Meanwhile the black gunners, admirably trained by Lieutenants Stockdale and O'Neil, both being accomplished artillerists, and Mr. Heron, of the gunboat, did their duty without the slightest protection and with great coolness amid a storm of shot.
This river expedition was not undertaken in mere bravado. Captain Sears, U. S. Army the contractor of Fort Clinch, had urged upon the War Department to endeavor to obtain a large supply of valuable bricks, said to remain at the brick-yards, 30 miles up the Saint Mary's, from which Fort Clinch was originally supplied. The War Department had referred the matter to Colonel Hawley, who approved my offer to undertake the enterprise. A part from this, it was the desire of Lieutenant Hughes, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. steamer Mohawk now lying at Fernandina to obtain information regarding a rebel steamer the Berosa, said to be lying still farther up their over, awaiting opportunity to run the blockade. Both objects were accomplished; I brought away all the bricks and ascertained the Berosa to be worthless.
I have the honor to state that I have on board the Ben Den Ford 250 bars of the best new railroad iron, valued at $5,000, and much needed in this department. This was obtained on Saint Simon's and Jekyl's Islands, Georgia, from abandoned rebel forts, a portion of it having been previously blown up and collected by Captain Steedman, of the Paul Jones. I have also eight large sticks of valuable yellow-pine lumber, said to be worth $700, which came Saint Mary's, Ga. There is also a quantity of rice, resin, cordage, oars, and other small matters suitable for army purposes. On board the John Adams there is a flock of 25 sheep from Woodstock, Fla.
I have turned over to Captain Sears, about 40,000 large-sized bricks, valued at about $1,000 in view of the present high freights. I have also turned over to Judge Latta, civil provost-marshal at Fernandina 4 horses, 4 steers, and a quantity of agricultural implements, suitable for Mr. Helper's operations at that location.
I have seen with my own eyes, and left behind for want of transportation (and because was considered even more valuable), enough of the choicest Southern lumber to load steamers like the Ben De Ford- an amount estimated at more than 1,000,000 feet, and probably worth at Hilton Head $50,000. I also left behind, from choice, valuable furniture by the houseful-pianos, china, &c., all packed for transportation, as it was sent inland for safe-keeping. Not only were my officers and men forbidden to take any of these things for private use, but nothing was taken for public use save articles strictly contraband of war. No wanton destruction was permitted, nor were any buildings burned unless in retaliation for being fired upon, according to the usages of war. Of course no personal outrage was permitted or desired.
At Woodstock I took 6 male prisoners whom I brought down the river as hostages, intending to land part of them before reaching Fernandina and return them on parole, but in view of the previous attack made upon us from the banks this would have seemed an absurd stretch