matters of a private and personal character of sufficient importance to take me from my duties. With regard to Florida, my letter of February 13, from Jacksonville, stated briefly the approximate strength and disposition of the forces that I intended to keep there. General Seymour's discomfiture at Olustee has somewhat disarranged my plans and delayed their execution, and has rendered in necessary to place for the present in Florida nearly three time as many troops as I intend to keep there after the defensive arrangements ordered at certain points are completed, and especially after the enemy withdraws a portion of the forces from the State, as he assuredly will when our armies at other points resume active operations. The value of Florida to the enemy has been overlooked by us to a great extent. I am convinced that they have drawn from the counties along the line of the Fernandina and Cedar Keys Railroad an average of 2,000 head of cattle per week during the past year. As regards prospective operations against Charleston, I had a long conference with Rear-Admiral Dahlgren some days since, on the evening before he started for Washington. The admiral desires to resume active operations in that quarter as soon as he receives the expected re-enforcement to his fleet, and it is of course my wish to co-operate with him. I informed the Department in my communication of December 17, 1863, that with 10,000 or 12,000 good infantry I could operate by way of James Island or Bull's Bay. I understood from Admiral Dahlgren that either of these operations, of the capture of Sullivan's Island instead, would meet his views of the requirement of the case. When my veterans return I am prepared to undertake or the other of these operations. The new colored regiments add materially to my strength for such work. I have directed General Turner, my chief of staff, to deliver this letter. He is prepared to enter more fully upon the merits of the question than I can in writing.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Q. A. GILLMORE,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF FLORIDA,
Jacksonville, March 10, 1864.
Brigadier General J. W. TURNER,
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that at daylight this morning Colonel Barton occupied Palatka without apposition. It had not been possible to ascertain the localities of the steamers on the Ocklawaha up to the time the transports left Palatka (3 p. m.). The enemy's cavalry pickets were 9 miles from Palatka, a small force at Gainesville, 1,000 cavalry at Starke. More cavalry is badly needed here and I would urge that as soon as a few companies of the Third New Hampshire can be mounted they be sent here, where they will be rapidly instructed. Captain Elder desires that he may be furnished with the 12-pounder howitzers left at Kiawah, the 3-inch rifles being of exceedingly little use in a wooded country like this. I suppose that Captain Langdon would also be provided with them instead of the 12-pounder, which is too heavy. The subject merits consideration.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,