War of the Rebellion: Serial 065 Page 0428 S. C., FLA., AND ON THE GA. COAST. Chapter XLVII.

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Colonel Harris' command, composed of 138 of the Seventy-fifth Ohio, 90 of the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry, and 10 artillerymen, with one piece of artillery, were attacked t Gainesville by Major Dickinson. The enemy's force is represented at from 500 to 700, with three pieces of artillery. From what I can learn the attack must have been a surprise. The men, however, fought well, but their ammunition being expended they were ordered to cut their way out. It would appear to have been a thorough rout. Up to dark this evening but 80 enlisted men and a few officers have come into Magnolia. I will give you a more detailed account as soon as possible, probably by the same mail that takes this.

Quite a number of the men were killed; three officers, wounded, known to be in the hands of the enemy, and a number of officers missing. It is believed that many of the men who are with the guides, and have taken to the swamps, will get in.

Colonel Noble's command arrived at Magnolia at 6.30 this p. m. All in excellent condition; had seen no enemy. They bring with them about 75 contrabands, and some few horses and mules.

I came down expecting to find the mail here from Hilton Head. Will return early in the morning to Magnolia.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JNO. P. HATCH,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Major General J. G. FOSTER,

Commanding Department of the South.

HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF FLORIDA,

Jacksonville, August 22, 1864.

GENERAL: I inclose with this the report* of Captain Dickison of the affair at Gainesville. The more I hear of the affair the worse if appears. Colonel Harris undoubtedly allowed his men to scatter through the town and, I fear, to pillage. He was undoubtedly surprised, and although the men individually fought pretty well, I do not believe they were at any time under control. You will perceive that neither the lieutenant-colonel nor the major of the regiment is a prisoner. It may be they were murdered after being taken, but they probably are in the swamps working their way to our lines. I shall have an investigation of the whole affair as soon as possible, but would like the testimony of some who are still absent, but not given up as lost. Colonel Harris has always borne the reputation of a brave man, but his regiment was without discipline.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JNO. P. HATCH,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Major General J. G. FOSTER,

Commanding Department of the South.

I have here in the river the Mary Benton and Hattie. The Hattie is most of the time out of order, and the Benton has to be employed bringing stores from Fernandina. I keep the Island City, as I cannot possibly do without her at present. I would much like authority to retain her here permanently, as I would put a gun on her and make her very useful. She is not a strong vessel, but is fast; peculiarly suited to river service.

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*See p. 439.

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