only, depending for success upon rapidity of movement, while the large naval force, which availed me nothing, puts me in the false position of apologizing for the want of complete success in an expedition which appears to those not acquainted to have been made on a large scale.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
U. S. STEAMER MAHASKA,
Saint Mark's River, Fla., March 21, 1865.
Acting Rear-Admiral C. K. STRIBLING,
Commanding East Gulf Blockading Squadron:
SIR: I have the honor to forward a communication received on the 18th instant by a flag of truce from Major General Sam. Jones, commanding at Tallahassee, with a copy of my reply. On the 20th the enemy sent another flag, only to say that if we wished to communicate we should fire a gun at 8 a. m. and they would meet us at Four-mile Point. Quite a number of refugees, white men and contrabands, have recently come on board. From two - a one-legged white man named James Wetzel, who claims to have been taken prisoner from the U. S. Army, and a colored man named Charles Amos - I have information which, as it was received at different times and closely tallies, may be considered reasonably reliable. I send you the men, that you may personally question them. On the 18th instant Captain Strickland and one private of his party were executed by the rebels (shot). The salt-works here are of vital importance to the rebels. After our attack salt went from $ 30 to $ 50 per bushel, Confederate money. About 2,000 of the enemy encountered General Newton at the Natural Bridge, near Newport. A moiety was collected from the vicinity, old men and young boys included, and 1,000 well-drilled volunteer troops from Georgia arrived toward the close of the fight. About 3,500 men are all that they can gather now at Tallahassee. Their description of the fort agrees with that given us before the attack, with additional particulars. The magazine is at the east end of the fort and is higher than the top of the parapet. It is made of logs, seven feet thick. A smaller magazine for the largest rifle gun is at the other extremity. In anticipation of the attack all the guns had been
removed from the Spray and mounted on the fort. Two smooth-bore, old pattern, ringed, cascabel 32-pounders were left on the lighter alongside the Spray. The armament of the fort thus increased was two 32-pounders, rifled; one rifle gun, described as a Parrott (probably 30-pounder), and one 12-pounder rifled gun, captured from us, and two smooth-bore 32-pounders, similar to those on the lighter. But at the time of the attack (they state) there were only three men left in the fort, and trains were laid and orders left to blow up both the fort and vessel on the near approach of the gun-boats. Wetzel says there are no good artillerists in the fort. As regards obstructions, a flat-boat was sunk in the river a short distance below Port Leon a long time since. Recently (as our own people had seen) many of the stones were taken out of her and she was floating to one side, leaving a channel, the soldier says, to the left of her, going up. At the time of the fleet moving up there were no obstructions between Port Leon and the fort. Pens (to be sunken with stones) were being made, and pine logs chained together, with spearheads pointing down
5 R R - VOL XLIX, PT I