War of the Rebellion: Serial 020 Page 0838 COAST OF S. C.,GA.,AND MID. AND EAST FLA. Chapter XXVI.

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gunboats to enable me to strike an effective blow, no to expose my command to severe loss from firing which we have ot now an opportunity of returning with effect. The town is now strongly fortified in the rear, and this furnishes an additional reason for not venturing an attack, unless we had the heavy guns and the force necessary to hold it. One of the difficulties of the position is that unless I can place my guns in position to command the wharves and the ground below the town (which is very difficult to accomplish so long as the gunboats remain in front of the town), after approaching under the fire of their gunboats and batteries, I may find the enemy escaped on board his transports and rapidly passing beyond my fire, leaving my troops still exposed to his guns.

The enemy's force in Jacksonville consists of two regiments of black troops with white officers, commanded respective by Colonels Montgomery and Higginson, largely re-enforced, as we are advised by our pickets to-day, by troops supposed to be white. They are making prisoners of all male citizens found in Jacksonville, on the Saint John's River, who refuse to take to oath of allegiance, and holding them as hostages for their negro troops. They are robbing and plundering everything one the east bank of the Saint John's River, which is protected from us by their gunboats, and the river at almost all points above here is very wide and impassable without large boats. The women and children, excepting five or six families, have been removed from town under a notification which I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel McCormick, commanding post, to send to Colonel Higginson, commanding negro troops at Jacksonville (copies of which and the reply thereto are herewith transmitted), in order that I might be at liberty to attack the town should a favorable opportunity present itself. They have been sent to Lake City, where some provision will be made for them. The enemy have been expecting re-enforcements of white troops, some of which are reported by our pickets to have arrived to-day. Their own statements and circumstances indicate that their probable policy is to occupy Jacksonville with white troops and send the negro troops are to be sent into East Florida, as seems now the intention of the enemy, with the Saint John's River as a base of operations held by their gunboats, and within easy access of the great depots of supplies and re-enforcements at Port Royal and of occasional re-enforcements from Fernandina and Saint Augustine, it will be impossible for the small number of troops in this district to render protection to every part of it. I am compelled to keep one company to render protection to every part of it. I am compelled to keep one company at Tampa, one at Palatka, one near Fernandina, one on the coast between Bayport and Crystal River, three detachments on the Suwannee and at Cedar Keys, as corps of observation and to prevent negroes from escaping to the enemy.

I would again call the attention of the commanding general to the want of arms for the new companies now being organized. I would also ask of the commanding general instructions as to the proper dispositions of negroes captured with arms and serving under the enemy. I would also report to the commanding general that General Cobb has sent me one large gun, Captain Gamble's battery of light artillery, and two new companies, about 40 men each, and that Colonel Clinch, commanding Fourth Georgia Cavalry, is here with three small pieces of artillery and 277 men.

I have the honor to be, general, &c.,

JOS. FINEGAN,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.