little assistance to a defense or obstacle to an advance; in fact, the only natural features which could be taken advantage of for purposes of defense are the bays and ponds which are to be found to a greater or less degree throughout this entire section of country. Upon my arrival I found there had been no engineer officer in General Finegan's command, and consequently no organization of that department. I found no laboring force or tools, and I proceeded at once, by authority of General Finegan, to impress the required negroes and to collect such tools as might be procured from the surrounding plantations.
Previous to the arrival of Major Clarke, Corps of Engineers, on the evening of the 18th, I had determined to make an intrenched camp of Olustee, with the view to a further advance of our forces, also as a depot of supplies and position upon which to retire, should it become necessary, and had made my plans accordingly. By his direction, however, I laid out that portion of the line only as represented on sketch.
On the 19th instant, I commenced work upon this line with a detail of soldiers. This force was necessarily small and inadequate, owing to the want of tools, having at that time only one dozen axes and two dozen spades.
Previous to my arrival two small works had been thrown up as designated on sketch at C and D, under direction of Major Bonaud, Second Florida Battalion [Twenty-eighth Georgia]. The parapet to these works was 6 feet wide, composed of logs covered with earth, and having a relief of about 4 feet 6 inches. The left of the line as laid out rested upon Ocean Pond, a sheet of water some 4 miles long by 2 to 2 1/2 miles wide, this furnishing a secure protection on the left. In front of this line and to the left of the railroad an open pond, averaging 250 yards in width, extended to within 300 yards of Ocean Pond. This ground was entirely impracticable, adding greatly to the strength of this portion of the line. To the right of the railroad, and at an average distance of 400 yards in advance of our line, there extended a thick bay, impassable except within 200 yards on the right of the railroad. This bay continued, as seen in sketch, to right of line with but one crossing at the road between bay and pond. Intervening between this bay and our line was an open field over which the enemy would have to advance in approaching the works. The right of the line, though not so well covered as the left, was still very much strengthened by the large pond which continued some 2 miles on the right, for which distance it was only practicable for infantry at a few points, and these crossings exceedingly difficult. This line of works, had they been completed, would have proven very strong against a direct attack, but was liable to the same difficulty which presents itself in the occupation of any position in this country, viz, the practicability of turning it by a detour of a few miles. While working upon this line and preparing for a defense at Olustee, the battle was most unexpectedly brought on 2 1/4 miles in advance of the position selected, under the following circumstances:
Early on the morning of the 20th, the enemy left their position on Saint Mary's River and advanced in force-variously estimated at from 9,000 to 12,000-one column by the railroad and the other by the Lake City and Jacksonville road, the distance from Saint Mary's River to Olustee being about 19 or 20 miles. Only a short time previous the enemy's cavalry penetrated the country as far as Lake