Seymour's report of that battle, are attached in the form of appendices. These are lettered from A to S, inclusive, and are deemed necessary to a thorough comprehension of those operations.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Q. A. GILLMORE,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, S. C., March 7, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to submit herewith copies of certain letters and telegraphic dispatches which comprise the instructions given to Brigadier General T. Seymour, relative to operations in Florida prior to the fight at Olustee on the 20th ultimo. A brief narrative of events connected with the recent occupation of Florida, west of the Saint John's River, will not be out of place.
Under date of December 22, 1863, I was authorized by you to undertake such operations in my department as I might deem best, suggesting conference with Admiral Dahlgren, &c.*
On January 14, 1864, I wrote you that unless it would interfere with the views of the War Department I should occupy the west bank of the Saint John's River, in Florida, very soon, and establish small depots there, preparatory to an advance west at an early day.
On January 15, I wrote to the Secretary of War that I had in contemplation the occupation of Florida, on the west bank of the Saint John's River, at a very early day.
Under date of January 22, you informed me that in regard to my proposed operations in Florida the Secretary replied that the matter had been left entirely to my judgment and discretion, with the means at my command, and that, as the object of the proposed expedition had not been explained, it was impossible for you to judge of its advantages or practicability.
On January 31, I wrote informing you that the objects to be obtained by the operations were, first, to procure an outlet for cotton, lumber, timber, &c.; second, to cut off one of the enemy's sources of commissary supplies; third, to obtain recruits, for my colored regiments; fourth, to inaugurate measures for the speedy restoration of Florida to her allegiance, in accordance with instructions which I had received from the President by the hand of Major John Hay, assistant adjutant-general. (See Appendix A.)
On February 5, I directed General Seymour (see Appendix G), whose command was already embarked, to go to Jacksonville, Fla., effect a landing there, and push forward his mounted force to Baldwin, 20 miles from Jacksonville, the junction of the two railroads from Jacksonville and Fernandina. A portion of the command reached Baldwin on the 9th, at which I joined it on the evening of the same day. At that time the enemy had no force in East Florida, except the scattered fragments of General Finegan's command. We had taken all of his artillery.
On the 10th, a portion of our forces were sent toward Sanderson, and I returned to Jacksonville.
Telegraphic communication was established between Jacksonville and Baldwin on the 11th. On that day I telegraphed to General Seymour (see Appendix J) not to risk a repulse in advancing on Lake City, but to hold Sanderson unless there were reasons for falling
* See Vol. XXVIII, Part II, p.134.