War of the Rebellion: Serial 103 Page 0066 KY., S. W. VA., TENN., N. & C. GA., MISS., ALA., & W. FLA.

Search Civil War Official Records

stream (such as they had at Charleston), were to be submerged in what was intended to be an inviting channel between the pens. These were not in readiness, and withal would have been only 100 yards from the fort. We have reason to believe, from watching the movements of the Spray's boat and from the talk of some of the contrabands, that they are dropping torpedoes in the river. They have thrown up rifle-pits in rear of the fort.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WM. GIBSON,

Lieutenant Commander, Commanding First Div., East Gulf Block. Squadron.

In the fight near Newport the enemy's loss is reported to be more severe than ours. Individual informants state 3 officers killed and 30 men killed and wounded.

WM. GIBSON,

Lieutenant-Commander.

HDQRS. DISTRICT OF KEY WEST AND TORTUGAS,

Key West, Fla., April 19, 1865.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit herewith a report of the operations in this district during the months of February and March. This report, although previously sent to headquarters Military Division of West Mississippi, is likewise, by advice from thence, transmitted direct to Washington.

I have a few additional remarks to offer. The paragraph of the report marked (*) may with propriety be slightly amended and enlarged to prevent misunderstanding. A portion only of the troops were at the Natural Bridge and kept there for the purpose of feeling the enemy; the remainder were on the open pine barren, about 300 yards from the Natural Bridge. The withdrawal spoken of in the paragraph alluded to was simply the swinging back of that portion at the bridge to unite with those already in position in the pine barren, but this was done only when it had been demonstrated that the enemy's position was unassailable, owing to absolute physical obstacles. The enemy's force, when we first encountered them at the Natural Bridge, was over 1,000, with two to four batteries of artillery (one of their papers mentions four batteries present). During the engagement the enemy was re-enforced by 1,000 additional troops, said to have come from the neighborhood of Pensacola and from Georgia. When the enemy were re-enforced they essayed an attack upon our troops, but were promptly repulsed with loss and driven back to their original position. After this we never saw an infantry soldier of the enemy, although we waited on the field for an hour, and during our march back to the light-house a few straggling portions of their cavalry were alone visible.

The expedition started with 893 men, but the detachments at Newport and outposts up and down the river, together with losses in action, had reduced this number to 500 men at the moment when the enemy became re-enforced; with 500 men, therefore, a force of four to five times its number was decisively repulsed. All the troops engaged at the Natural Bridge were black troops, of Second and Ninety-ninth Colored Infantry. The boldness of our attack gave the enemy the idea of a much superior force on our part, which they actually believe to have been nearly 2,000. The disposition made of our troops was such that the enemy could use but a portion of their available men, and their papers declare that one-half at least did not fire a shot. The result