Numbers 2. Report of Brigadier General Joseph Finegan, C. S. Army.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF EAST FLORIDA,
Lake City, Fla., March 31, 1863.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that on the night of the 24th instant I directed Lieutenant [T. E.] Buckman, chief of ordnance, to proceed with the rifled 32-pounder furnished me by Brigadier-General [H.] Cobb, mounted on a platform car on the railroad, and a sufficient infantry support for the gun, to within range of the town, and open on it with shot and shell. In obedience to this order Lieutenant Buckman proceeded to within 1 1/2 miles of the town and opened on it with effect, throwing shell with great accuracy into those parts of the town where the enemy were located. The gun was admirably served, and great credit is due to Lieutenant Buckman and to Private Francis Soule, of Captain [Edwin] West's company, First Special Battalion Florida Volunteers, commanding gun detachment, for its effective service. The firing of the enemy from a large number of heavy guns on their gunboats and some in battery soon became concentrated and accurate, and the gun, in pursuance of orders, was withdrawn after inflicting some damage on the enemy and without loss on our side.
On the succeeding morning the enemy advanced in force, about 1,500 strong, in three columns, driving in pickets with skirmishers, and formed in line of battle about 3 miles from town. My entire force was immediately ordered with all possible expedition to proceed to the ground where they were drawn up and engage them. The rifled 32-pounder, under command of Lieutenant Buckman, with a strong support of infantry and cavalry on left flank, protected on the right by the main body of our troops, was sent down on the railroad, an opened on the enemy as soon as they came within range, gradually approaching them until within full view of a considerable force protected by a 12-pounder Parrott gun, and engaged in destroying a culvert over which it was necessary for our gun to pass in order to shell the town. Lieutenant Buckman opened on them with effect, throwing shell with great accuracy and dispersing the party.
In the mean time a section of Captain [R. H.] Gamble's battery of Florida artillery was ordered some little distance in advance of our main body, and under command of Captain Gamble and Lieutenant [F. L.] Vollepigue opened on the enemy a cross-fire in the direction where they were supposed to be lying concealed in some force. The enemy had in this fight, in addition to the Parrott gun on the railroad car, a small hand piece, with which he opened in the direction of the firing from Captain Gamble's section. He did not await the advance of the main body of our troops, but retired precipitately soon after the 32-pounder gun had opened on him. I continued to throw shell into their column for some distance on their retreat, and found evidence of considerable loss on their part-a number of guns, caps, haversacks, canteens, and fragments of human bodies and portions of skulls were found on the several roads occupied by their columns.
The conduct and services on this occasion of Lieutenant T. E. Buckman, chief of ordnance, and of Private Francis Soule, of Captain West's company (First Special Battalion), commanding gun detachment of 32-pounder rifled gun, is again entitled to special commendation.
The enemy having retired, I sent forward a strong body of infantry, under command of Major [T. W.] Brevard, First Partisan Rangers,