HDQRS. DEPT. OF S. CAROLINA, GEORGIA, AND FLORIDA,
Camp Milton, March 7, 1864.
Respectfully referred to Brigadier General W. M. Gardner, for his remarks relative to ordering the pursuit stopped on 22nd instant at McGirt's Creek, on assuming command of the army.
G. T. BEAUREGARD,
General, Commanding Department.
NEAR McGIRT'S CREEK, March 7, 1864.
Brigadier-General Finegan did not reach McGirt's Creek with the troops under his command until the night of the 26th ultimo. Having been placed in command, I felt would be held responsible for any disaster that might befall the army. I halted the army on McGirt's Creek (a strong position) on the night of the 26th ultimo, in order that I might become acquainted with the state of things in front, and because I considered the moment for reaping the fruits of the signal success of the 20th ultimo had been allowed to escape, and the enemy had been allowed time not only to reorganize his defeated forces, but to receive re-enforcements and to strengthen the strong position at Jacksonville, where his gun-boats could be used against us, but more especially because of my utter want of confidence in the brigadier-general commanding to handle an army on the field of battle, as manifested under my own eye at the battle of Olustee. Likewise the short supply of ammunition made it advisable to await further supplies before risking another engagement, which engagement would have been to attack the enemy in his intrenched position around Jacksonville.
W. M. GARDNER,
[Inclosure Numbers 1.]
TALLAHASSEE, February 22, 1864.
Brigadier General JOSEPH FINEGAN,
The following telegram from department headquarters is forwarded for your information:
CHARLESTON, February 21, 1864.
General W. M. GARDNER,
Lake City, Fla.:
The general did not know the state of your leg, and consequently your ability to take the field, or he would have ordered you to assume command in East Florida at once. Hence he ordered General Taliaferro there; but please assume command until that officer should arrive, and organize fast as possible for offensive. Three regiments of infantry and two of cavalry are en route. Then turn command, over to General Taliaferro, who has the general's instructions in full. The general commanding will be on the ground in a short time.
Chief of Staff.
The brigadier-general commanding, through courtesy and feelings of delicacy, does not desire to interferer with your views further than to stop offensive movements until the re-enforcements now en route reach you. He therefore directs you to take a strong position on the west bank of the Saint Mary's, provided the enemy have fallen back behind that river. You must have the river thoroughly picketed with cavalry above and below your position, and select a suit-