ville of eighteen vessels (gun-boats and transports), the landing of the enemy (presumed in large force), and an once directed to put in motion (to report to General Finegan) all the troops he had been previously ordered to hold in readiness for such an emergency. General Gardner, commanding in Middle Florida was telegraphed to send to the imperiled quarter, with all possible celerity, every soldier he could spare. Colquitt's brigade was ordered from James Island to Savannah with a light battery. General Finegan was advised of what was done, and instructed to do what he could with his means to hold the enemy at bay, and to prevent the capture of slaves; and at the same time, I reported to you this hostile movement and my intention to repel it, as farr as practicable, with infantry to be withdrawn from Charleston and Savannah, but request, in consequence of the very recent discharge of some 5,000 South Carolina militia, that other troops should be sent to take their place and avoid danger to Charleston and Savannah.
Scarcely had Colquitt's brigade begun to move when the enemy, in anticipation doubtless, of my attempt to re-enforce Finegan, made a strong demonstration of John's Island. Though assured of the purpose of this movement, it assumed, however, so serious a form as to compel me to divert temporarily General Colquitt and three and a half regiments of his brigade to re-enforce General Wise, then confronted by at least two brigades of the enemy (about 4,500 strong), pushed forward in advance of the haulover or bridge-way between John's and Seabrook Islands; and, in addition, several regiments of infantry were detached from Sullivan's and James Islands, to be in readiness for the development of the enemy's purposes.
On the night of the 11th ultimo, I ordered all our batteries bearing on Morris Island to open a heavy simultaneous fire on that position, as if a cover for an assault, and with the hope of forcing the enemy to withdraw from John's Island to the protection of his own works. This stratagem seems to have produced the desired effect, or assisted to make him abandon the movement on John's Island and withdraw hastily before daybreak, thus releasing and enabling Colquitt's command to reach General Finegan in time to meet and defeat the enemy at Ocean Pond, some 13 miles in advance of Lake City.
In the meanwhile other troops (fast as the means of railroad transportation would enable me) had been dispatched to the theater of war from the works around Charleston and Savannah and the positions covering the Savannah Railroad. This was done, indeed, to a hazardous degree; but, as I informed the honorable Secretary of War by telegraph the 9th ultimo, I regarded it as imperative to attempt to secure the subsistence resources of Florida. General Finegan was also apprised of these re-enforcements on February 11, and instructed to maneuver mean time to check or delay the enemy, but to avoid close quarters and unnecessary loss of men. While these re-enforcements were en route the enemy again attempted to delay them by a movement, with show of force, against Whitemarsh Island, near Savannah, and it became a measure of proper precaution to halt at Savannah two of the regiments on their way to General Finegan for the development of the enemy's plans, one of which regiments, indeed, I felt it but prudent to detain there to the present.