On the morning of the 1st, I sent the Harriet A. Weed, having on board about 25 men from the One hundred and fifteenth New York Volunteers, under command of Captain S. P. Smith, of that regiment (and provost-marshal at this place), up the Saint John's River for the purpose of capturing a rebel picket which I had learned was stationed at or near Fort Gates, some 32 miles distant. The expedition returned at dark the same evening, bringing with them a sergeant and 9 men from the Fifth Georgia Cavalry and 13 horses, with the arms, trappings, and accouterments belonging to the party, all without firing a shot. Captain Smith deserves the greatest credit for the skill with which he managed this little affair. In order to bring away the horses he was obliged to swim them over the Saint John's River (two at a time), force them through a swamp previously regarded as impassable for 1 1/2 miles, and rode them to Welaka, the only place in the vicinity where they could be taken on board the steamer. All this was accomplished in about nineteen hours, which included the time occupied in traveling 64 miles. The reserve was first captured, our men mounted on their horses, and went out to the men on post, whom they approached without exciting suspicion and easily secured. The prisoners are sent by the Houghton to Jacksonville. As an offset to this I would state a sergeant and 3 men belonging to the Massachusetts cavalry were captured on the night of the 1st, while on the outpost picket. They were on a post deemed quite secure, at least from accidents of this sort. I trust that I shall not be obliged to record any more of these annoying occurrences, as I have rearranged the whole system of picket. Yet, with the large force of cavalry in our front and their perfect knowledge of the country, it is extremely difficult to guard entirely against such accidents. My scouts still bring me reports as to the increase of the infantry and artillery of the enemy in this vicinity. I also hear constantly of their purpose to build heavy batteries to command the river, and I am endeavoring to obtain some definite information as to the place proposed for their erection. It is of the last importance that at least fifteen days' supply should be constantly on hand here. I would respectfully call the attention of the commanding general to requisitions for shell for my 10-pounder, sent by this mail to Captain Langdon, chief of artillery, and would request that measures be taken to forward the supply called for at once. My only anxiety is in regard to supplies, particularly ammunition. I am confident in regard to my ability to repel any attack that the enemy can make so long as they hold out. I shall husband them carefully.
I have the honor to be, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. B. BARTON,
Captain P. R. CHADWICK,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF FLORID, No. 19. Jacksonville, Fla., April 3, 1864.
I. The brigadier-general commanding desires to make know to his command the successful accomplishment of a daring and difficult expedition by a detachment of 25 men of the One hundred and fifteenth New York Volunteers, commanded by Captain S. P. Smith, of