reached at sunset. The distance traveled being very considerable, and the roads unusually difficult, the men became somewhat jaded and footsore, but the rapidity of the march was not thereby materially lessened. When within 2 miles of the mills, in accordance with my instructions, I sent forward 20 men under Lieutenant Casgriff, to surprise and capture the picket-post supposed to be at that place and prevent the lumber from being fired. No post was there, however, and the lumber was found undisturbed. I learned that orders had been given to the enemy's picket, formerly stationed there, to burn this property on the approach of any Federal force. My instructions anticipated this design and caused me, therefore, to make a rapid march. Upon my arrival I threw out pickets, established guards where I thought necessary for the protection of private property, and bivouacked my command.
On the following morning we commenced building rafts of the lumber found at Woodstock, said to belong to the estate of Mr. Edwin Alberti, deceased. On the afternoon of the same day (February 16) Major Brooks arrived at the post with several transports and the U. S. naval schooner Para. He having been intrusted with the command of the expedition, I accordingly reported to him for duty, and he assumed command of the entire force. He relinquished this command to me on the 20th instant and returned to Fernandina. A large amount of lumber (some of it very valuable) was sent daily to this place from both Woodstock and King's Ferry Mills. The property taken at the latter place is said to have belonged to one Mr. Germond, residing near by. I am unable to give the exact quantity obtained. Major Brooks will be able to furnish the requisite information on this point.
On the 22nd instant (yesterday), I was ordered to return with the whole force with all possible dispatch to Fernandina. The troops were immediately embarked on the steamers Island City and Harriet A. Weed, the latter vessel taking in tow the Para. The rafts (found in number) that had been constructed at the mills and had not been towed down were cast adrift, in order that they might float down with the tide to Fernandina. We reached this post to-day without having sustained any injury during our absence except the wounding, slightly, of 2 men belonging to Company B, Captain Savage, yesterday, while that company was making a reconnaissance on the Georgia side of the Saint Mary's River.
I wish to return my thanks to First Lieutenant James T. Skiles, adjutant, and Dr. Williams C. Morrison, assistant surgeon, of the battalion; to Acting Master E. G. Furber, commanding U. S. naval schooner Para (for the valuable assistance rendered me by him), and to the masters of the transports Island City and Harriet A. Weed.
Two deserters, 4 refugees, and about 25 negroes came inside our lines at the mills. I forwarded them to your post, reporting them to the provost-marshal.
It affords me much gratification to be enabled to speak in a most favorable manner of the conduct of both officers and men under my command during our absence.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major Ninety-seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Vols.
Colonel HENRY R. GUSS,
Commanding U. S. Forces, Fernandina, Fla.