3.30 o'clock on the following morning, when we weighed anchor and steamed to a point known as Hunt's Mill, where I communicated with a Union man on shore, and from him ascertained the disposition of the enemy whom I was anxious to meet. This friends also told me where I would be likely to capture a large quantity of valuable naval stores, and among other articles, the sails and rigging of a repel gunboat.
After this short delay we started for the town of Milton, where I reconnoitered for the enemy, and at the same time explored for the hidden stores, which I determined to take on my return trip. I next carefully sailed up the Blackwater River to the head of navigation and to a place called Union Hill, where I received on board the steamer four known Union families, and employed my men in removing to our boat all their valuable furniture and other effects. These people were delighted to escape the tyranny of their oppressors, and now, for the first time in months, felt safe. It was with considerable difficulty that the steamer could be turned in the river; but the pilot proved faithful to his charge and soon brought us back to Milton, where we landed, and there removed several thousand dollars' worth of naval stores (stolen from this navy-yard) to our steamer. It was here that I found some furniture, which I am well assured belonged to a notorious rebel. This furniture has since been turned over to the provost-marshal of Pensacola, as well as all other captured property. In the town of Milton I found a lot placed and grooved lumber, which is needed by our forces, and this also was transferred to the boat.
Having given the enemy ample opportunity to attack my forces and accomplished my object I returned to Bagdad, where I landed, and received on board a large quantity of furniture, &c., belonging to some Union men, who with your permission accompanied me. The instructions I had received having been accomplished, I started for and arrived at this town on the morning of the 9th . We saw none of the rebel troops, though we have every reason to believe that while in Milton 60 or 70 cavalry were in the vicinity.
The banks of the Blackwater River are peculiarly fitted for the action of sharpshooters and light artillery, and it appears to me strange that the enemy does not take advantage of this circumstances.
The valuable saw-mills once so numerous in this section of the country have been burned, as have millions of feet of yellow pine and oak lumber.
I would here state that 2 officers and 8 men, belonging to Porter's mortar fleet, accompanied me, in order to procure some needed ship timber, and their mission was successful.
The detachment of 10 regular soldiers, under Lieutentant Crosby, had charge of our only piece of artillery, and were ready at any moment to open on the enemy.
In conclusion allow me to say that both officers and men were anxious and ready for any duty, and they fully came up to my expectations. All I have to regret is that they did not have the opportunity to meet the rebels, when I feel satisfied that they would have proved themselves worthy of the confidence placed in them.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. N. SHIPLEY,
Captain, U. S. Army, Commanding Expedition.
Captain CHARLES C. DWIGHT,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Pensacola, Fla.