tell me clearly is not to be approved by the posture of affairs. And I am sure that I desire no more than is naturally to be claimed by any officer of my rank and experience.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF FLORIDA,
Jacksonville, Fla., March 25, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that on February 20, at 6 a.m., I left my position on the South Fork of the Saint Mary's (Barber's plantation) with the intention of advancing on Lake City, and, if successful, of destroying the railroad communication between East and West Florida at the Suwannee River, such being the general plan of operations upon which the occupation and control of East Florida had been founded. The command consisted of Colonel G. V. Henry's mounted brigade (two squadrons Independent Battalion Massachusetts Cavalry, Major Stevens; the Fortieth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, and Elder's Horse Battery B, First U. S. Artillery, four guns), Colonel J. R. Hawley's brigade (Seventh Connecticut, Captain Skinner; Seventh New Hampshire, Colonel J. C. Abbott; Eighth U. S. Colored Troops, Colonel C. W. Fribley), Colonel W. B. Barton's brigade (Forty-seventh New York, Colonel H. Moore; Forty-eighth New York, Major W. B. Coan; One hundred and fifteenth New York, Colonel S. Sammon), and Colonel Montgomery's brigade (Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, Colonel E. N. Hallowell; First North Carolina Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel W. N. Reed), with Hamilton's Light Battery E, Third U. S. Artillery, six guns, and Langdon's Battery M, First U. S. Artillery, six guns (comprising a section of James' Rhode Island Battery, under Lieutenant Metcalf). The entire force near 5,500 officers and men and sixteen guns.
Accurate information it was believed, as to the enemy's strength had been obtained, and the excellent character of the troops under my command forbade any doubt as to the propriety of a conflict on equal terms. After a march of 15 miles, and about 3 p.m., Colonel Henry's cavalry came upon the enemy's infantry pickets somewhat to the east of Olustee. A couple of companies from the Seventh Connecticut soon drove them back upon their supports, which opened fire. Captain Elder felt them with his guns, the remainder of the Seventh Connecticut was handsomely deployed forward, and under this display the enemy's position in line of battle was clearly developed. The ground was favorable for the movement of troops, being firm and even, and although covered with pine timber was devoid of underbrush. My intention was to engage the enemy in front with the artillery, supported by a regiment on either flank, while a brigade should be moved to the right so as to fall upon the prolongation of his line. The Seventh New Hampshire was accordingly thrown forward to the right, and the Eighth U. S. Colored Troops to the left, and Hamilton's and Langdon's batteries were brought up alongside of Elder's. The Seventh Connecticut had been energetically and successfully engaged in its work of driving in the enemy's skirmishers; it was now withdrawn from before our infantry. The Seventh New Hampshire, and old regiment, armed in part with the Spencer rifle, had scarcely deployed and felt the