Defense of Jacksonville

MARCH 12, 1864.
Hilton Head, S. C., March 12.

The Daniel Webster sails for New York at noon to-day, and presuming the HERALD readers have been particularly interested in matters in this Department since the battle of Olustee, I will furnish a brief letter out of the limited material afforded me by recent occurrences.


Remain comparatively unchanged. Our lines only extend six miles out of the city. The rebels are constructing earthworks at Cedar Creek, which doesn't look much if they intended attacking us, but if they do see fit to, they will have a sweet time of it. The Massachusetts Fortieth Regiment Mounted Infantry, Col. Guy V. Henry, and the Independent Battalion Massachusetts Cavalry, Major A. H. Stevens, are doing infinite service for us. They are almost continually in motion, reconnoitering, skirmishing and going on expeditions. They have already distinguished themselves, and several times won the commendation of Gen. Gillmore and Gen. Seymour.

As the facts are developed the evidence accumulates that in the recent battle of Olustee the rebels were very badly punished. This was first shown by their not following us up when we were falling back, with many killed and wounded. It is now confirmed by the statements of deserters and by information picked up by all sorts of ways, had Geb. Seymour been enabled to throw in a fresh brigade he would have routed or bagged the whole rebel force, and obtained Florida. But the chances of war didn't so decide. There is nothing new at Fernandina or St. Augustine.


has prevailed along this coast for several days, blowing a perfect tornado, with violent showers, and terrible thunder and lighting. Ships dragged their anchors in the harbor, and some lost them. There was no communication with Jacksonville for three days, for the St. John's Bar is a hard one to get over in anything except smooth water, and since the Burnside was lost, boats are not sent out at much risk. But yesterday the weather cleared up, and it is now calm, and disagreeably hot-warm as ordinary June weather in New England.


Brig. Gen. Gordon, of Massachusetts, who went out as Colonel of the Second Regiment, is now being tried by Court Martial on charges preferred against him by Quartermaster Bingham, of Gen. Gillmore's staff. The court consist of Gens. Saxton, Terry, and Vogdes, Lieut. Cols. Jackson and Morgan, and Major Henhaw Judge Advocate. Among the charges is one of ordering a commissioned officer to be confined, unnecessarily in a guard-house for three days.


Our folks shell as usual and are shelled as usual, but it is so old a practice it has become monotonous, and has not variation or incidents enough to write about. I suppose it is now no harm to state that an expedition has sailed from Stono to reconnoitre in Bull's Bay, thirty-five miles above Charleston, but a reconnoissance is all that can be expected.


I wish to urge one matter upon all friends of the soldiers who read the HERALD, a thing which has been suggested often enough, but about which too much can not be said. Send papers to the soldiers. If you are acquainted with any soldier in this Department and want to do them great favors at small expense of money and trouble, wrap up a little file of BOSTON HERALD'S and send by every mail. New England papers are scarce among New England troops, and when they are received give the greatest pleasure.


Article from Boston Herald, March 18, 1864; pg. 2, col. 1.
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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