MARCH 1, 1864.


Private advices from Florida state that our reverse was caused by Gen. Seymour's exceeding Gen. Gillmore's orders, and going to hunt up a fight with an unknown enemy, instead of holding certain points and awaiting attack. - This intelligence confirms the seriousness of the disaster, and fixes the total loss at about 1000.

A passenger by the Fulton says he was told by a wounded soldier, at Beaufort, that in the retreat the Federal army was saved from capture by the desperate fighting of the Mass. 54th Regiment.

The news of the battle reached Beauford [S.C.] on the morning of the 23rd. Arrangements had been made for a ball that evening, and they were not suspended. Gen. Gillmore went up from Hilton Head to attend the ball, and the steamer with the wounded men reached Beaufort a few minutes after his arrival. The dancing was kept up till after 10 o'clock, when one of the ladies at the ball received information that her husband, to whom she had been married but a short time, had been killed. The dancing was then stopped. The removal of the wounded men from the boat occupied the entire night. It was reported that their was enough wounded men at Jacksonville to make two more boat-loads for Beaufort.

As an offset to the reverse. We take pleasure in abiding to the fact that Gen. Seymour, on the 17th, issued an order stating that property valued at over one and a half millions of dollars had been the fruit of their success up to that time. He gives special praise to Major Steven's Independent Battalion of Cavalry, the 40th Massachusetts Mounted Volunteers; also to Capt. Geo. E. Marshall, Co. E. of the 40th and his small command of forty-nine men who captured and held Gainesville fifty-six hours, receiving and repulsing an attack of double his number. - In reference to this achievement, a correspondent of the Tribune says;

Capt. Marshall received orders to advance upon Gainesville with a picket force of 49 men from companies G. H. and K, of his regiment, the 40th Massachusetts Mounted Infantry. He skirmished all night, and reached the place on Sunday morning, Feb. 14, at 2 A. M., dashing past 115 rebel infantry, and occupying the town. His first care was to place sentries and pickets to prevent the egress of the inhabitants. All new comers were allowed to enter the place, and were closely questioned as to the existence and number of the enemy in the vicinity . From a negro it was elicited that their cavalry were close by. A picket of two men were surprised by the rebels and captured.

By this means a rebel messenger escaped, and brought down upon Capt. Marshall's little force an attack from Dickinson's and Chamber's cavalry. The negro had given Capt. Marshall only 40 minutes notice of the impending onset. Instantly calling to his aid the willing services of about 100 liberated negro men, the Captain and his command removed from the "Confederate" warehouses 15 bales of cotton and barricade the cross-roads going through the town, adding to his extemporized fortifications, "sectors or wings," from point to point of his lines, to shield the garrison from a rear or flanking fire. The rebel cavalry were soon heard thundering down the road. Capt. Marshall enjoined his him to hold their fire until they should be close to the breastworks. The foremost horsemen were near enough to leap the petty obstructions of two cotton bales, when a seven-fold volley was poured into them from the new Spencer repeating rifles. Instantly wheeling, the rebels tried a flank movement, when a terrible enfilading fire reached them, every man of the National force firing seven shots at the astonished troopers. A total rout was the result. The frightened horses of the dismounted rebels came vaulting on the cotton bales. The groans of the wounded, left by their flying comrades, mingled in harsh accord with the shouts and cheers of the Union soldiers. Had Capt. Marshall's men had been cavalry, used to the sabre, they could have followed and killed or captured the whole party.

The loss of the rebels was over 40. Their force has been not much less, certainly, than 100. Not one of our men was hurt!

Leaving Gainesville at 2 A. M. on Tuesday, 18th Feb., Capt. Marshall's command reached Jacksonville by a forced march by noon on Wednesday. Their total loss was one wounded in skirmishing, 2 captured on picket, and 1 straggler. Important information was obtained as to the strength and resources of the enemy. The secessionist women in Gainesville generously applauded the prowess of the Yankees, admitting that they had "done well; whipped them handsomely!" and stigimatized their own cavalry as "cowards and poltroons."

Thirty-six negroes were brought away from Gainesville. Of these, 33 enlisted.


Article printed in the Boston Herald; March 1, 1864; pg. 2, col. 1.
See Chelsea Telegraph and Pioneer article

It is made available here through the courtesy of Thomas Hayes,

Hayes is currently working on a historical reference work, "Letters of the Civil War," from the newspapers of the cities and towns of Massachusetts. He has researched the Boston Herald, Chelsea Telegraph and Pioneer, Dedham Gazette, Roxbury Gazette, Randolph Transcript, Worcester Transcript and the Malden Messenger. He says, "I have filed, by date, a little over 3,300 letters. These are from the Soldiers, Sailors, Nurses, Correspondents and Politicans. This project started out as a simple endeavor to find that one letter from my Grandfather, Walter A. Hewes, who served in the 1st Mass. Infantry and 4th Mass. Cavalry. To date, no luck, but I have about 30 more papers to research."

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