Should you be obliged to enter the protest mentioned above you will accompany it with a copy of this letter.
JOS. G. TOTTEN,
Brevet Brogadier-General and Colonel of Engineers.
BAUFORT, S. C., March 6, 1863.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: I have the honor to report that I have sent the First Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers Colonel higginson commanding, and the portion of the Second Regiment, already mustered into service, under Colonel Montgomery, up the Saint John's River, Florida, with orders to occupy and intrench themselves at jacksonville. This place is now occupied by a small force of rebels, some of whom I hope to capture.
I have reliable information that there are large numbers of able-bodied negroes in that vicinity who are watching for an opportunity to join us. The negroes from Florida are far more intelligent than any I have yet seen, fully understand their position and the intention of the Government toward them. They will fight with as much desperation as any people in the world. I have many of these Florida men in the First South Carolina Regiment, and no one who knows anything about that regiment now doubts its efficiency. It has fought its way to the esteem of its enemies. The last expedition it made up the Saint Mary's River, in Georgia, which I had the honor to report to you, caused a perfect panic throughout the State of Georgia. In one engagement on that occasion, which was not mentioned in my last report to you for want of sufficient date, I have since learned that they killed and wounded 60 of the enemy.
I feel great hopes that we shall strike a heavy blow in Florida. There is at present a great scarcity of muskets and ammunition in this detachment. in this want is supplied it is my opinion that the entire State of Florida can be rescued from the enemy, and an asylum established for person from other States who are freed from bondage by the proclamation of freedom, from which they can never be driven. The history of Florida Indian war shows how strong this peculiar country os for a defensive warfare. I hope that the attack of the colored troops in Florida will occur at nearly the same time with that of Admiral DuPont upon Charleston. I shall send early reports of the operations of the expedition.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers.
PORT ROYAL, March 7, 1863.
Major General J. G. FOSTER,
U. S. Army, New Berne, N. C.:
GENERAL: The within, * with Orders (Special), Numbers 116, and a letter of the same date,+ will inform you of the last change in the Department of
* Copy of Special Orders, 127, p. 420.
+ Not found.