to place Palatka in a perfectly secure condition; in fact, it is believed to be so now, except so far as heavy guns may be needed there. I have requested Captain Balch, U. S. Navy, to send the Ottawa or other gun-boat to Palatka immediately. Guns will be sent up to-night. Colonel Barton urges that 50 horses should be supplied to him for cavalry service; but as I cannot spare any part of the mounted force from this point, I shall to-night send him 50 horses with saddles and bridles, so that he may mount a company of infantry temporarily. This course is preferred by Colonel Barton also. But I trust the mounted cavalry force here will soon be greatly increased, as the preponderating amount of the enemy's cavalry prevents our own, at present, from being of much use.
And I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Chief of Staff.
No. 2. Report of Colonel William B. Barton, Forty-eighth New York Infantry, commanding brigade.
HEADQUARTERS BARTON'S BRIGADE,
Palatka, Fla., March 15, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that the steamer Sumter was captured on the 13th instant in Big Lake George, 75 miles distant from this place, by the U. S. gun-boat Columbine. Having been properly armed and manned, was at once dispatched up the Saint John's for the purpose of securing the Hattie Brock, ascertained to be within reach. I have no doubt that ere this the Brock has shared the fate of the Sumter. There is also reason to believe that with the Brock over 150 bales of cotton have been taken.
The parties making these captures deserve great credit, for although they met no armed opposition they encountered and overcame great difficulties arising from difficult navigation, &c.
The passengers and crew of the Sumter have been turned over to me and are forwarded by the General Hunter, with the exception of the captain, who has gone as pilot up the river, and 2 passengers sick in hospital. Mr. Cable, former owner of the steamer Saint Mary's, will be found among them, and I think that the brigadier-general commanding would do well to see him, as he is intelligent and thoroughly posted. He claims to be a friend of Judge Burrit.
I believe that I can capture the only remaining steamer (the Silver Spring) if the steamer Island City can be sent to me for a short time. By means of her I can land a small mounted force at a point up the river beyond the Ocklawaha and within 25 miles of Silver Springs. Their route would be through a country sparsely settled, and, as I have the best reason for believing, entirely free from troops. They would have an excellent prospect of either bringing away or burning the steamer and destroying considerable property belonging to the Confederate Government. I have also learned where there is a quantity of cotton stored, which I can obtain with the aid of the Island City. Cannot she or some similar boat be at once sent to me, at least temporarily?