The night previous he had run up his railroad gun (a 32-pounder rifle) and thrown a few shell into the town. About 1 p. m. the enemy advanced, most probably to break down a railroad trestle, and thus prevent the railroad gun from approaching near to them. Our pickets were driven in and the enemy advanced beyond the Three Mile Branch, but retired on the approach of General Finegan's forces, and burnt all the houses on the outer part of the town, having only taken one rail from the railroad trestle.
I visited the advanced line of skirmishers under Major Brevard, and General Finegan showed me an open pine barren, with a gradual slope, enemy will ever come there. General Finegan has given up all idea of attacking Jacksonville, and I expect that many of his officers are not anxious for a very bloody fight.
Probably an attack would have been successful if made a week before, when Colonel Clinch arrived, and it was planned but given up. We returned to camp about 5 o'clock, and Colonel Clinch started for Georgia at dark. This morning at 9 o'clock the enemy were again reported advancing, and General Finegan started down with his command to meet them, but as he said a fight was not probable I came on to this place, which is the principal depot on the Florida Railroad.
General Finegan estimated the enemy's force at about 2,700, protected by two batteries in position and the fire of their gunboats and a gun on a railroad car. They have nonvisible means of transportation for an advance, and General Finegan thinks they will await re-enforcements before attempting a serious advance, making ravages along the Saint John's River. He has sent one cavalry company to Palatka, and thinks of sending a section into the Peninsula of Florida and alarmed at their almost defenseless condition. General Finegan has to guard his flanks carefully with pickets on Front Creek above and McGirt's Creek below. Large boats (8 feet) can ascend these creeks a short distance. Three Mile Branch, about 2 miles from Jacksonville, is held by our pickets; it is in range of the enemy's shell. I understood his force to be Brevard's four companies of infantry, six new small companies of infantry, three light batteries, and two companies of cavalry, and one more cavalry company expected. The best light battery is also borrowed from General Cobb. A countryman, who had been imprisoned at Jacksonville and released on the night of the 24th, made these statements, viz: Two white regiments, the Eighth Maine and Sixth Connecticut, arrived in Jacksonville on Monday. There had been there previously one regiment of negroes, about 800 strong, called First South Carolina Volunteers, all the officers of which are white. They assert their intention of going to Lake City, and want to land from Fernandina, Palatka, and Saint Mark's. There is much bad feeling among the whites against the negroes. They expect cavalry and artillery from Hilton Head.
There are four gunboats at Jacksonville and two guns on cars, one brass and the other a long iron gun.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major and Assistant Inspector-General.