This is not a clear indication of your wish. The road running southward from Saint Augustine does not interest with the one running southward from Picolata except at a point to the south of Haw Creek, unless we except the intersection of the rails at or near one of the crossings of Haw Creek. This is so far to the south, the country is so thinly populated, and transportation of forage and other supplies so difficult with the limited number of wagons left here, and our trains and couriers could so easily be ambuscaded, that I must believe that there is some error as to name of place. With the force of mounted infantry left me by the order taking away the men of the Twenty-fifth Ohio Volunteers, I would regard it as extremely hazardous for me to attempt to maintain a permanent cavalry post so far from all support. The present cavalry camp was selected by me after a personal examination of the place. It was approved by General Gordon after he had also made a visit there. It is at the junction of the roads running from Volusia and Palatka to Saint Augustine, and only 8 1/2 miles from the latter place. The position is the best I could select to cover Saint Augustine and the country between Picolata and the mouth of the Saint John's. Is not this the point meant by you?
It will take several days to execute the orders for the transfer of the men of the Twenty-fifth Ohio Volunteers for turning in their horses, arms, and equipments, and for mounting the men of the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry on the horses belonging formerly to that regiment. Please instruct me by return mail. The only cavalry I have are 145 men of the Fourth Massachusetts, now dismounted. Colonel Harris' mounted infantry will be reduced to about 168 men within three days. Colonel Beecher's mounted infantry have less than 100 horses fit for service, and this number will be greatly reduces unless there is a supply of hay and small forage received here within a week. Your instructions say nothing about holding Picolata, now held by six companies of the One hundred and fifty-seventh. We have there three pieces of artillery and a stockade with a small redoubt. I trust this is not to be abandoned. Prior to the receipt of your communication, I had already ordered the two pickets on the southern part of Amelia Island to be withdrawn and mounted patrols to be substituted. You direct a small permanent picket in Fernandina. This will involve a change of the coal depot and the removal of the pieces of ordnance at the rebel fort at Fernandina. Shall I have a coal wharf built near Fort Clinch, and remove the ordnance to that fort? I do not regard Fernandina as in danger, except from a coup de main for spiking the cannon in the fort. The order for the organization of a regiment of Florida volunteers contains a clause, "without limitation as to place of service," which will stand in the way of recruiting. Will you authorize me to raise and organize that regiment, making my mustering officer, Lieutenant Waters, the mustering officer for the men, or will you send some one to do the work? I find no special order here on the subject. Will you relieve only that portion of te One hundred and fifty-seventh which is on Amelia Island or the whole regiment? Two companies are at Fernandina and six at Picolata.
When your order away the One hundred and forty-fourth and the One hundred and fifty-seventh, I would ask to be allowed to retain the men detailed here as clerks at headquarters and at the commissary's and quartermaster's. I cannot find any clerks in black regiments. It will be a matter of pride with me to protect all loyal citizens and residents in their persons and property.