War of the Rebellion: Serial 065 Page 0370 S.C., FLA., AND ON THE GA. COAST. Chapter XLVII.

Search Civil War Official Records

would result in its capture was thought to be practicable. This belief was greatly encouraged by the fact, on the morning of the 1st of April, at 4 o'clock, one of the largest transports* of the enemy while descending the river from Palatka exploded a torpedo and sunk in 3 fathoms of water. A section of artillery, under Lieutenant Gamble, supported by infantry under command of Captain Grieve, First Georgia Regulars, was dispatched at once to complete the wreck. They reached the bank of the river opposite the wreck a little before daylight on the 2nd, and after firing a few rounds at that portion of the boat which was above water, Captain Bryan, with 2 men, boarded her and set fire to her upper works, which soon reduced them to the water's edge. She proved to be the double-stack, side-wheel steamer Maple Leaf, and was loaded with the camp and garrison equipage of three regiments recently arrived at Jacksonville on account of some hurried necessity which required her first to proceed up to Palatka. On the 2nd of April, therefore, Brigadier-General Finegan was directed to proceed by rail from Baldwin to Waldo with about 2,500 infantry and six pieces of artillery; thence by the nearest practicable route to Palatka, which place he was to attack and carry, after which he was to be governed by circumstances and await further orders. Between Waldo and Palatka he was to be joined by Lieutenant-Colonel Martin, Sixth Florida Battalion, with about 400 infantry, and Lieutenant-Colonel Harris, Fourth Georgia Cavalry, with the same number of cavalry. On account of the condition of the transportation by rail from Baldwin to Waldo he was provokingly detained, consuming more hours than miles traveled in reaching the latter place. It had been expected he would reach Palatka in time to commence the assault on the morning of the 4th, and he had not been able to move his whole command from Waldo, which is distant from Palatka about 38 miles.

On the night of the 3rd April, our scout in the river between the bar and Jacksonville reported the following arrivals at Jacksonville from sea, viz:

The Canonicus, with a few white troops; the Dictator, crowded with negro troops; large black steamer, with a few white troops and horses; the Mary Benton, a good many white troops, horses, and mules; the Delaware, crowded with white troops; a black transport, largest size, crowded with white troops; a large nameless transport, crowded with white troops. And early on the morning of the 4th the same scout reported the following arrivals, viz: A gunboat, crowded with horses and men; two large transports, crowded with men and horses. On the 30th March, the Maple Leaf and Charles Houghton had arrived with men and horses on board.

Under these circumstances it was deemed prudent to recall Finegan, which was done on the 5th instant. On that night, too, the same scout reported the arrival in the afternoon of a large transport, crowded with horses and a few men, and after dark another large white transports; could not tell if she had troops.

These indications pointed to another attempt on the part of the enemy to advance into the interior of an occupy the State. All of our available force was held in hand, and every preparation made to meet him.

In the mean time Brigadier-General Gardner, with a small force and by vigorous measures, had succeeded to a great extent in breaking


*The Maple Leaf.