fifth, and One hundred and second U. S. Colored Troops, 20 of the [Seventy-fifth] Ohio Mounted Infantry, and a detachment of Third Rhode Island Artillery, three guns.
Preparation had been made to fire all the buildings at Baldwin and also large piles of the superstructure and iron of all the roads centering there. Instructions were left with the colonel of the One hundred and fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers to apply the torch at 11 o'clock, withdraw his pickets which had replaced ours, and march his command to Cedar Creek in pursuance of instructions from your headquarters. Our line of march was at first on the west of the Cedar Keys and Gulf Railroad. This we crossed about 3 miles from baldwin, and marched on the easterly side thereof, and at considerable distance from it, for most of the way, until we recrossed to the west side about 3 p. m. We here tore up and burned some half mile of the track of that road. We reached our designated camping-ground for the night (Trail Ridge) about sundown. We there found Colonel Harris and his mounted infantry. He reported to me his action at the ford of New River, and left about dusk for Starke.
On the next day, the 16th ultimo, we marched at daylight along the eastern border of the railroad, but soon turned by routes pointed out by our guides, which took us several miles to the east of said railroad and were not again nearer same than 2 21/2 miles. We made our camp at nightfall, 2 1/2 miles east from Starke, at a fork of the Sand Hill Lake and the east and west roads running to Starke.
The next morning we continued our route southward by the road running through the Sand Hill Lake country, a most interesting and beautiful region. We encamped at night at Shake Rug Corner, the junction of the road we had traveled with the Bellamy road. Here, having heard while making camp rumors of disaster to the command of Colonel Harris, and that all but 50 had been either killed or captured, we put out a strong picket and made our camp very compact. We sent out during the night several scouting parties. One of them visited the residence of Dr. McCrae, a bitter rebel, and gathered his horses and stock. In the morning after we made him a public visit and burned a large amount of cotton, some 4,000 pounds. On the day previous a like amount of rebel property was burnt.
The next morning, on examining the Bellamy road, we found marks of a considerable force with horses, which had gone east. Supposing these were a remnant of Colonel Harris; force and that others might come in, we did not break camp until late, and moved all the day very slowly, scouting on every side of the route for rebel property, &c. A force in command of Lieutenant Rice, acting commissary of subsistence, was sent out to break up a meeting for enrollment of volunteer militia and minute-men, but finding the place of rendezvous was some 18 miles back toward Gainesville they limited their work to bringing in slaves and other property. On this scout a large steam cotton-gin and mill, filled with some 20,000 pounds of cotton, was burned. We made our camp on the fourth day immediately north of Lake George, one wing of our line resting on the lake and the other on an extensive morass. During the day and evening some of the Ohio mounted infantry and Massachusetts cavalry came up with us.
On the 19th, we completed our march, as ordered, and arrived at Magnolia about sundown.