If the people of Georgia had turned out to oppose Sherman as the Floridians have in the battle fought at Natural Bridge, he never could have reached Savannah. Some of the companies only lacked one or two of their whole number. While this spirit animates the whole people we have no fears of the Yankees. Let them do their worst.
The Kilcrease Artillery, Captain Patrick Houstoun, and Dunham's battery, Captain Dunham, acted in the most gallant style, dealing death and destruction to the invaders, and contributed largely to the result of the battle.
HDQRS. DISTRICT OF KEY WEST AND TORTUGAS,
April 6, 1865.
Lieutenant Colonel C. T. CHRISTENSEN,
Asst. Adjt. General, Hdqrs. Mil. Div. of West Mississippi:
COLONEL: In transmitting the inclosed copy of a communication from Lieutenant Commander William Gibson to Admiral Stribling it is proper for me to add a few words. It is evident that had the land force been seconded at all by the naval part of the expedition we should have succeeded to the utmost extent of our expectations. The fort at Saint Mark's was prepared to be blown into the air, and parties were engaged to destroy a large lot of cotton at Saint Mark's, amounting to about 600 bales. The land troops could have crossed between Newport and Saint Mark's (being relieved of the presence of the gun-boat Spray), and with the assistance of 500 men from the navy would have entirely defeated the enemy if he had made a stand. My calculations were that the enemy would concentrate but 600 to 700 local troops, and these with the addition of men pressed for the occasion were increased to about 1,000 men. These men, who would not have stood before my troops in any other position, were impregnable at the Natural Bridge, which could have been defended by 200 resolute men, with a few pieces of artillery, against five times their number; for the reason that the rebel works commanding the passage within fifty paces of it could not be got at because of sloughs, ponds, & c., completely isolating their defensive position from assault. About noon, when over 1,000 veterans arrived from Georgia (it is said), owing to detachments necessary to observe the river above and below, I had in line but 500 men, with which number the rebels were defeated and were obliged to retire into their entrenchments and fastness. The rebel force altogether was over 2,000 men with at least five light 12-pounders, commanded by Generals Jones and Miller. I had had a complete understanding with Lieutenant-Commander Gibson, who was relieved of his command by the arrival of a superior officer after I had landed and was engaged with the enemy. Such a fact is sufficient to account for a fatal delay or inactivity of the naval force at the critical moment. I am satisfied that had no change been made in the naval commanders at this inopportune moment we could not have failed to accomplish our most sanguine expectations. After information has fully satisfied me that the plan of the expedition was well laid and deserved success. It is my duty to lay my opinions frankly before the general commanding, but at the same time, unless required, I do not think it proper to make these public as yet. My force was but 900, and amounted to a raid