Maple Leaf being in sight off Commodore Point. Steamed slowly by the wharves, close in. When up with the upper end of the town turned round and stamed down to the Maple Leaf, which had made fast to a dock. At 3.40 the troops commenced landing. Took a positiion ahead of the Maple Leaf. Several transports went alongside the wharves. One, the Hunter, was fired into by the rebel pickets. At 4, a landing having been effected, anchored. The Ottawa having been detained below, I went on shore and saw General Saymour. He said he wad disappointed that the Ottawa had not com up. I informed the gneeral that I should be obliged to go up the river to blockade McGirt's Creek so that the Saint Mary's might not escape up the river. I asked him if he intended moving that night. He said no; the artillery or the horses had not come up. He told me one company of cavalry had gone a short distance to look after the pickrets that fired at the Hunter.
At 5.25 got under way. At 6.30 anchored off McGirt's creek, as close in as the depth of water would permit, and I at once went on shore and stationed a picket-boat in the mouth of the creek.
On the morning of the 8th, I reported to Captain Breese on board the Ottawa off McGirt's Creek. By inviitation of Captain Breese I went to Jacksonville in the Ottawa. Was on shore and saw General seymour, at about 12 m; asked him when he intended mvoing forward. He answered, "This afternoon, if the horses come up." Returned up the river to the Norwich in my gig, at about 12.30 p. m. At 8.15 I went in and stationed a picket-boat in the mouth of McGirt's Creek.
On the monring of the 9th, at 3.30, went to quarters, as the picket-boat had made signals. While at quarters heard the officer of the picket-boat hail a boat twice, and the reports of thre emuskets. Sent the launch, armed, inshore to find the picket-boat and learn the cause of the firing. At 4.10 the lauch returned, ahving been unable to find the picket-boat in the fog. At 6.15 the picket-boat returned. The officer reported having fired in the direction of a boat, which he head, but could not see on account of the fog, his hails not being replied to. At about 11 o'clock I saw Captain Breese on board the Ottawa. He informed me that the cotton had been burned and the Saint Mary's sunk during the night. I saw 2 men on the Ottawa, who stated to me that they deserted from the Saint Mary's the night previous, and that when pulling out McGirt's Creek into the Saint John's River they had been hailed and fired into. That they did not answer the hails, as they throught the rebels were pursuing them. By order of Captain Breese, I armed three boats of the Norwich, to proceed up McGirt's and Cedar Creeks in company with the Ottawa's boats. At about 1 p. m. we reached the Saint Mary's, and boarded her. No indications were found that any one had boarded her since she had been sunk. A small rifled gun was found on shore near a deserted camp, and the boats of the Saint Mary's were found in a creek. At 3.20 the boats returned to the ships. At 3.50 got under way. At 5.05, in obedience to signal from the flag-ship, anchored in line ahead off Jacksonville.
I am fully covinced that if the Norwich had not been anchored off McGirt's Creek, with a picket-boat in the creek, that the Saint Mary's would have escaped up the river.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
FRANK B. MERIAM,
Acting Master, Commanding.