War of the Rebellion: Serial 103 Page 0059 OPERATIONS ABOUT SAINT MARK'S, FLA.

Search Civil War Official Records

February 24. Reached Punta Rassa, where the Magnolia was found. Both steamers sailed for Cedar Keys at 3 p. m.

February 25. Arrived at Cedar Keys at 6 p. m. Major Weeks, commanding post, being absent on a raid, he was directed to return. No chance to cut off or intercept the enemy's force in the South Peninsula appeared to offer itself.

February 27. Major Weeks returned. Companies C, D, and E, Second Florida Cavalry (dismounted), and Companies E, G, and H, Second U. S. Colored Infantry, were embarked on the Magnolia, leaving at Cedar Keys a sufficient detail from the companies above mentioned to protect the place in our absence. Transferred headquarters to the Alliance, which had arrived from Key West.

February 28. Arrived off Ocklockonee buoy, near Saint Mark's Bar, thirteen miles from land, where the naval force was directed to assemble. The fog was dense.

March 1 and 2. Steamers Mahaska, Honduras, Magnolia, Stars and Stripes, Spirea, Fort Henry; schooners O. H. Lee, Matthew Vassar, and Two Sisters assembled together. Heavy fog. Lieutenant Commander William Gibson commanded the naval force. After full and free consultation the following plan of operations was adopted: First. To land a party of seamen and of the Second Florida Cavalry on Light House Island on the night of the 3rd to take possession of the bridge over East River and to surprise and capture the pickets there if possible. Second. To land the troops on the same night in readiness to start at daylight on the 4th. Third. The land expedition was to march to Newport, destroy the public establishments there, cross the River Saint Mark's, take Saint Mark's in rear, or strike the railroad between Saint Mark's and Tallahassee, attacking isolated bodies of the enemy to prevent a concentration, and destroying and capturing such property as might be useful to the enemy. Fourth. In order to effect these objects, parties were landed to destroy the railroad and other bridges over the Ocklockonee River, the trestle or bridge over the Aucilla River, and to break up the railroad between Saint Mark's and Tallahassee. Fifth. The naval force was to endeavor to silence the batteries at Saint Mark's and capture it; to land a force of 500 to 600 seamen at Port Leon to cover the land expedition, to prevent the enemy crossing in its rear between Saint Mark's and Newport, and to threaten Saint Mark's. There was no doubt entertained that this landing at Port Leon would be effected.

March 3. The fog having risen, the whole fleet put to sea, sailing until after dark in order to deceive the enemy, should he have discovered the presence of the vessels. After dark, returned to the bar, which the pilot in vain endeavored to cross, though he had indicated no difficulty previously. A heavy gale sprang up and the vessels were of necessity anchored until morning, by which the landing of the troops was unfortunately delayed. In the meantime Major Weeks, with sixty men of the Florida cavalry and thirty seamen under Acting Ensign Whitman, surprised but did not succeed in capturing the enemy's pickets at the bridge over East River.

March 4. Early in the morning the fleet got under way (the Spirea leading) for the light-house. The pilot ran the Spirea hard and fast aground; the Honduras, containing troops, likewise grounded. In the meantime Major Weeks' expedition returned to the light-house because his position at the bridge was too advanced in the absence of the main force. The enemy's cavalry followed him, skirmishing. The steamers Hibiscus, Proteus, and Iuka arrived. The last two anchored and remained outside. After the delays arising as above stated, from the