June 25, 1864
THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER
For the Christian Recorder.
Head Quarters 3d U.S.C.T.
May 29th, 1864.
MR. EDITOR: - I, now, this beautiful Sunday afternoon, sit myself down, according to promise, to write a few lines to you, hoping they may find you and all your friends enjoying good health.
I will commence my correspondence with you by giving you my Florida Expeditions. Our regiment left Hilton Head on the 6th of February, for Jacksonville, Fla., and we arrived there on the 8th. Just as soon as we landed we were ordered to camp. Here we remained until the 8th of February, when we received orders, in the night, to surprise the rebel camp, called "Camp Finagan," about ten miles from Jacksonville. We got to the rebel camp about 1 o'clock at night, but were too late to do any good; but we had the pleasure of liberating some of our flesh and blood. There were about two hundred slaves at that place that had the pleasure of saying: "We are free from the chains and fetters of slavery." On the morning of the 9th we were ordered to fall in and march to the next station, called by the natives of the State, "Ten Mile Station." There our mounted infantry had a little skirmish with Gen. Finagan's men, and we captured four pieces of artillery from the rebels; and our regiment, of Col. Halley's brigade, was ordered to stay till the gallant 8th regiment came up to us.
On the morning of the 10th of February, we started to the next station, called Baldwin, the junction of all the railroads that lead to Georgia, Mobile, and Charleston. We arrived there about noon of the same day, and went into camp; some of us to do picket duty, and some to do provost guard duty; and, Mr. Editor, the best of all, that day there were two companies to go further on. Company G and D had to go to the next town, called Barber's Station, about fifty miles from Jacksonville. When we arrived there we found the 115th New York regiment, waiting for us to relieve them. We, after marching hard all day, had to go on duty for twenty-four hours; though tired and fatigued out, you may say, there was not a word said about our duties to our superior officers, for they all knew what soldiering was. We found, there, ten of our wounded soldiers, and two wounded rebels. One of them died while we were there, and we buried him with pleasure; although we were convinced in our own minds, if it were us, they would not even give us a drink of water. But we had a Christian spirit in us.
Company G, (F.W. Webster, Captain,) went out on the 11th of February, and was to return in a short time, but did not come until late in the night. We had given them up; but as God would have it, they came back all safe and sound.
On the 13th of Feb., we were ordered back to our regiment by Col. Barton, who was commanding the post at **Barber's Ford**, and we guarded down that day, three prisoners of war: one Lieut. Colonel, one Major, and one private; and the best of all, about fifty colored people, that Col. Barton had captured at Sanderson, about seventy miles from Jacksonville. About 6 o'clock in the evening, we got back to our regiment. Our Colonel met us and said: "How do you do, boys? I see the rebels haven't got you yet!" and we gave three cheers for Col. Tilgham and his regiment. There we staid one week, while that awful slaughter came off at Olustee; but as God knew best, we did not have to go up there to be murdered like dogs.
On the 15th of Feb., the fight took place; and on the 16th, early in the morning, the wounded came in by the wagon load, and ambulances loaded down. But the worse of all, was to see the poor soldiers come in with no hats on, and some with arm and hands off. Our regiment stayed at Baldwin till all of the wounded were off the field; and about 10 o'clock at night, we took up a line of march for Jacksonville, down the railroad, to keep the rebels from flanking us, and cutting off our communications with the army. We got as far as Camp Finagan that night, where we bivouacked. We rolled logs together and made up camp-fires; though tired and worn out, we made some coffee in our tin cups, and it tasted as good as if our mothers had made it. The next morning, at half-past eight o'clock, we started for, we didn't know where, but we went in camp on Stocklain's Road, and stayed two days; and on the third day, we were ordered on the railroad, about three miles from the main road.
Last week Col. Shaw, of the 7th U.S.C.T., went out with his regiment, and some mounted infantry, and four pieces of artillery, and marched out on the railroad, about five miles from this place, and had a little fight with the rebels. They captured about fifty of them, and killed and wounded a large number, and did not lose a man, and but one of our number wounded; he belonged to the 7th U.S.C.T. They all got back to camp the evening of the same day.
I suppose you have all heard about the destruction of the Mapleleaf, General Hunter, and the gunboat Harriet A. Weed. The destruction of these three boats, occurred in three weeks' time. They were valued at $500,000.
Since I have been staying at Jacksonville, I have attended four cotillion parties, given by the colored ladies of this place.
I will bring my letter to a close, by bidding you good-bye. May God bless you, and may you be prosperous in all your undertakings.
I hope to hear from you soon; and I hope the next letter I write may be better.
Yours until death,
THOMAS R. ROCKHOLD,
Orderly Serg't of Co. D, U.S.C.T.
This is ITEM #61076 from the Accessible Archives, Inc. Database and Web site at http://www.accessible.com/. You or your organization must be a licensed subscriber to access the databases on its site. This letter is posted here with the kind permission of Mr. John Nagy, Accessible Archives, Inc.
Other Letters from Olustee
Battle of Olustee home page