HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF KEY WEST AND TORTUGAS.
Key West, Fla., December 14, 1863
Brigadier General CHARLES P. STONE
Chief of Staff, New Orleans, La.:
GENERAL: It has been reported to me from time to time by refugees from the State of Florida, that deserters from the rebel army and men hiding to avoid conscription were lurking in the woods between Charlotte Harbor and Lake Okeechobee, in numbers variously estimated from 200 or 300 to 700 or 800, and that many of these men would join the forces of the United States should a military post be established in their neighborhood.
I propose to establish a small post on Charlotte Harbor to enlist the men above referred to, as many as possible, to break up or check the cattle-driving business in that part of the State, and to extend operations according to circumstances. Nineteen men, refuges from the State of Florida, now residing at this place, have recently enlisted in the service of the United States and as many more will probably enlist unconditionally, but with the understanding that their first service shall be in the State of Florida.
As we have but one regiment of troops in this district, the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania, divided between Key West and Tortugas, it will, of course, be impossible to detach any considerable forces I propose to detach one company only of the Forty-seventh Pennsylvania to act in conjunction with the native troops. The native troops propose to take the name of the Florida Rangers.