with orders to hold them in reserve under cover from the enemy's guns, and to send forward a body of skirmishes to approach cautiously and ascertain the position of the enemy in the immediate vicinity of the town and endeavor to draw them out in force. The order was executed by Major Brevard with promptness, gallantry, and discretion. The skirmishers, under command of Major Brevard in person, advanced to within a short distance of the town. Finding the enemy's pickets drawn in front, and a strong force well posted for its defense and under good cover on either flank, and having no further object to gain, I ordered Major Brevard's command to retire, and replacing and strengthening my pickets, returned with the main body of my force to camp, having inflicted on the enemy, as I have reason to believe, a probable loss of 10 or 15 men, without any casualties to my own troops.
The conduct and spirit of both officers and men of the entire command were excellent, and I desire to mention favorably to the commanding general Colonel Duncan L. Clinch, Fourth Georgia Cavalry; Lieutenant-Colonel [A. H.] McCormick, Second Florida Cavalry; Major [R. B.] Thomas, inspector-general and acting chief of artillery; Major T. W. Brevard, First Battalion Partisan Rangers; Major [Robert] Harrison, Second Florida Cavalry; Major [J. C.] McDonald, Fourth Georgia Cavalry; Captain [Edwin] West, First Special Battalion; Captains [John] Westcott, [Samuel W.] Mays, P. B. Bird, and J. Q. Stewart, of Brevard's battalion of Partisan Rangers, and Lieutenant --- tucker, commanding company from camp of instruction, and his officers and men.
On the succeeding day (the 26th instant) I placed early in the morning a strong force of infantry, with a battery of artillery, under Major Brevard, First Battalion Partisan Rangers, under cover some woods to the right of where the enemy were posted on the 25th instant, with the design of getting in their rear should they again venture out. During the day information reached me that they were out in force, and I again marched to meet them, with the intention of cutting them off, but they retired before we got near them. On the night of the 26th [instant] they were out in some force attempting to destroy the railroad track about 1 mile from town. Lieutenant Buckman was again ordered with the rifle 32-pounder and an infantry support to drive them in. This he accomplished with a few rounds. On each succeeding day I posted a large body of infantry under cover for the purpose of cutting off any force that might come out; but the enemy kept closely within their lines in the suburbs of the town and under the immediate fire of their gunboats and batteries.
On Sunday, the 29th instant, while reconnoitering the town from a position on the river, I discovered it was on fire in several places and that the transports were being loaded with troops. I immediately conjectured that the enemy were leaving, and pressed on into the town in great part consumed, but succeeded in extinguishing the fire in some valuable buildings. There were evidences of precipitate departure by the enemy, and some quartermaster's stores were left by them, which were taken and turned over to the proper officers.
I regret to report that on the night of the 27th instant Lieutenant [O. F.] Braddock, of Captain [John] Westcott's company Partisan Rangers, who had obtained, through the solicitation of his officers, permission to proceed to the east bank of the Saint John's River to bring across the wives and children of men in the service who were there destitute and exposed to the outrages of the negro troops of the enemy, after having