On the 22nd of February, General Gillmore communicated to the General-in-Chief the result of the battle of Olustee, so far as it was then known:
HILTON HEAD, S. C., February 22, 1864.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that I am in receipt of dispatches from my chief of staff, Brigadier-General Turner, at Jacksonville, and from Brigadier-General Seymour, at Baldwin, up to yesterday. From these I learn that General Seymour had a spirited fight with the enemy on the 20th at Olustee. From Captain John Hamilton, U. S. Artillery, who has just arrived here from the scene of action (slightly wounded in the arm), I learn that General Seymour made the attack; that it was soon ascertained that the enemy was present in superior force, and that after an engagement, lasting between two and three hours, our forces withdrew from the fight in good order.
The loss on both sides was quite severe. Some of our wounded fell in the hands of the enemy. He also got give pieces of artillery as an offset to the eight pieces which he lost when we first advanced.
Yesterday Seymour was at Baldwin, slowly retiring and sending his wounded to Jacksonville.
General Turner writes yesterday that the wounded, so far as he can learn, are all in the cars coming in. Locomotive just put in order. I inclose herewith the last dispatch that he had received from General Seymour. The force before him was from General Johnston's army. Captain Hamilton thinks our loss in killed, wounded, and missing will be as high 600 or 800.
The medical officers inform me that all the wounds, with very few exceptions, were made by small-arms, and that a very large proportion of them were slight. Colonel Fribley, Eighth United States (colored), was killed.
In a few days I will furnish you with copies of instructions under which General Seymour was acting.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Q. A. GILLMORE,
P. S.-Olustee is about 50 miles west of Jacksonville.
On the 7th of March, General Gillmore communicated his official report, a copy of which is herewith submitted.*
The foregoing comprise all the information in the possession of this Department in relation to the military operations in Florida referred to in your note. But it may be proper to add that the military operations projected by General Gillmore, being communicated to the President, they presented in his judgment a favorable occasion for carrying into effect the measures of amnesty declared in his annual message. With that view his private secretary was sent to General Gillmore, with the forms, registers, and certificates prepared for persons returning to their allegiance in the loyal States, and with instructions, the nature of which is exhibited in the following letter+ of the President to General Gillmore, the general's reply, and the order, No. 16, issued by General Gillmore, "in pursuance of these instructions."
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, S. C.
To His Excellency THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
DEAR SIR: I have the honor to report that the blank books and other blanks, to be used in the initiatory steps for the restoration of the State of Florida to her loyalty, have been received by Major Hay, and he has been ordered to enter upon the special duties assigned to him without delay.
* See p.276.
+ See Appendix A, p.278.