Had the gap between Lawton and Live Oak been filled by a line of railroad connecting those two points, as urged by me more than a year ago, the re-enforcements I was sending at the very moment I was being asked to send 10,000 men to General Johnston would have arrived in time to co-operate in the action at Ocean Pond, and the enemy would at once have been driven out of Florida. But as it was, two entire days were lost in the passage through the gap of a portion of the re-enforcements, and we had to fight the enemy one to two. Our victory, it is true, it is true, was complete, but as we were not in sufficient force of good troops to pursue the enemy vigorously, he had time to fall back on Jacksonville, where he has been at work since, extending his intrenchments, and, with the assistance of his gun-boats, rendering the place inaccessible to such forces as we can dispose of. If, however, the Department be of opinion that under such circumstances, and with the means at hand, another officer can expel the enemy from Florida by prompt and decided measures, I will be most happy to surrender the command to him.
G. T. BEAUREGARD.
MARCH 21, 1864.
Respectfully referred to General Bragg.
Adjutant and Inspector-General.
MARCH 23, 1864.
No action seems to be called for by the public interests.
[Inclosure Numbers 1.]
CAMP GARDNER, March 5, 1864.
Major HENRY BRYAN, Assistant Adjutant-General:
MAJOR: Not having been present at the time the enemy made his advance on Lake City, and only having arrived here after he had taken shelter under his gun-boats and behind his works at Jacksonville, I have had no other means of estimating his forces than those upon which the general officers present have based their estimates. As their opinions of his numbers so nearly concur, I have no reason to doubt the correctness of their estimates.
On the point of expelling the enemy from Florida, it can, now be done only by seizing favorable points on the Saint John's below Jacksonville, and so fortifying them as to prevent the force at Jacksonville from being re-enforced and supplied, or by carrying the works at that place by assault. Either method involves difficulties readily appreciated; the latter, perhaps, under circumstances, being the more feasible of the two. The spirit of our troops and the demoralizing of those of the enemy, growing out of his late defeat at Ocean Pond, would, in my opinion, enable us to carry the works around Jacksonville by storm. Of course it would be at great sacrifice of life, and to no purpose, since his gun-boats would prevent us from holding it.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,