On Monday, 15th instant, Lieutenant-Colonel Scott, commanding outpost, reported that the enemy's cavalry had crossed the railroad at Darby's in a force supposed to be about 100 strong, with one piece of artillery, and was moving to my right. He was at once ordered to put every available man in the saddle. I also ordered one howitzer from Captain Abell's battery and sent them, under command of Captain Rou, of Second Florida Cavalry, in pursuit. Captain Rou was ordered to ascertain the direction they were going and more definitely their numbers, and if necessary move parallel with them until he could form a junction with Captain Dickison's command, then supposed to be at Starke or Waldo.
On the next day a flag of truce was sent by the brigadier-general commanding to the enemy's lines, Major Goldthwaite, assistant adjutant-general, bearing it, who, upon arriving at Baldwin, 12 miles from Camp Jackson, at 3 p. m., found the place evacuated and burned, and that the enemy had apparently gone in a southerly direction. Scouts were immediately put upon their trail and the command ordered to be ready to move.
The reports from these scouts, received a little after daylight next morning, showed that the enemy were moving in the direction of Starke. I immediately started the command, consisting of about 480 muskets and 2 Napoleons, in pursuit. Kept scouts on the trail as closely as possible and myself informed of their movements. The first day's march brought me at 9 p. m. within 12 miles of Starke, where I learned at 11.30 p. m. that the enemy's infantry, supposed to be about 1,000 strong, with a small force of cavalry and some artillery and baggage wagons, were at 3 p. m., at Big Alligator crossing, on Black Creek and Newnansville road, 15 miles from me, and were moving up that road.
At 3 a. m., I again started on the most direct route to Waldo, hoping by making a forced march to intercept them if they continued up the Newnansville road, or reach Waldo in time to join Captains Rou and Dickison, should the enemy leave the Newnansville road and turn toward Waldo.
At 11.30 a. m., I halted to let the men rest, and while waiting one of my scouts returned and informed me that it was reported that Captain Dickison had met and defeated the cavalry at Gainesville. I now determined to push with all possible dispatch by the nearest route to where I expected to find the enemy's infantry, and notwithstanding the men (many of them unaccustomed to marching) were tired and footsore, they moved cheerfully as directed. We had not marched more than a mile or two when a courier from Colonel Earle, aide-de-camp to Governor Milton, arrived with a dispatch stating that the enemy with a force of 2,000 infantry were within 10 miles of Waldo and coming on. I immediately changed direction, hoping to reach Waldo and make a junction with the forces which I still presumed were there, and it was not until I was within 2 miles of Waldo, about 9 p. m., that I was informed that the enemy had that morning changed their direction and were making for the Saint John's River. Couriers were sent to inform Captain Dickison of my movements shortly after I left Camp Jackson, again when I turned to intercept the enemy, and again when I changed direction to go to Waldo, none of which returned to me, and neither did I get a dispatch from Captain Dickison until I was near the Santa Fe River, a few miles from Waldo.