Report of Capt. B.F. Skinner,
Seventh Connecticut Volunteer Infantry,
on the engagement at Olustee, Florida

Six-Mile Creek, King's Road, Fla., February 25, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to make the following report, for the information of the colonel commanding, of the part my command took in the engagement at Olustee, Fla., on the 20th instant:

My command consisted of detachments from ten companies, comprising the Seventh Regiment Connecticut Volunteers , consolidated and divided into four companies, as follows: Companies A and G, commanded by Capt. C. C. Mills, assisted by Second Lieut. Charles A. Wood, composed the first company; Companies F, D, and I, commanded by First Lieut. Jeremiah Townsend and Second Lieut. John B. Young, composed the second company; Companies E and H, commanded by First Lieut. Robert Dempsey, composed the third company; Companies B. C, and H, commanded by Capt. John Thompson and Second Lieut. Raphael Gilbert, composed the fourth company; Surg. George C. Jarvis, Second Lieut. John J. Hutchinson, acting adjutant, Second Lieut. W. H. Augur, acting regimental quartermaster, amounting in all to 10 commissioned officers and 365 enlisted men.

The regiment left Barber's Ford at 7 o'clock on the morning of the 20th, in connection with the rest of Colonel Hawley's brigade, which moved in four distinct columns, the Seventh Connecticut forming the second column from the right and on the right of the road, in this order, for about 5 miles, when I was ordered by Colonel Hawley to march my command into the road and in advance of the brigade; afterward, by direction of General Seymour, I held my regiment about half a mile in advance until we arrived at a station (name unknown), perhaps 3 miles beyond Sanderson, when I was directed by General Seymour to send forward two companies as skirmishers. I immediately ordered the first two companies, under Captain Mills and Lieutenant Townsend, to move forward, which were deployed on the left of the railroad, the second company forming a reserve for the left of the line. I was also directed by the same authority to throw one company forward upon the right of the railroad as skirmishers, and follow with the remainder of my force within supporting distance. Our advance soon came up with the enemy's advance guard and exchanged a few shots with them, when they retreated, firing occasionally as they went. We followed them in this way about 3 miles, when, after firing a few shots from our advance battery, Captain Elder's, the enemy replied with a battery of three or four guns, when I was directed by General Seymour to go forward with the rest of my command and, if possible, secure the enemy's battery. I moved the remainder of my command forward immediately, in double-quick time, upon the right of the railroad for about 300 yards, when we came up with my line of skirmishers. I immediately directed the remainder of the third company, which had been held in reserve, to deploy as skirmishers and move up to the support of the advanced line. I also deployed the fourth company with the same directions, the enemy having made a flank movement in order to mass his advance on our right. Captain Mills followed, moving a portion of his command across and to the right of the railroad, the whole forming a very strong line of skirmishers 300 or 400 yards in length. I immediately pushed the line forward as fast as possible, paying particular attention to the enemy's batteries, the strength of which had developed itself upon the left of our line to the right of the railroad. After moving up 200 or 300 yards I found the enemy drawn up in line to receive us and in position to support their battery, the enemy here showing a front of five regiments, flanked on the right and left by cavalry, which made occasional demonstrations upon our flanks, but were easily turned back in disorder. After a few moments' attention from our seven-shooters, supposing that support was close at hand, I pushed forward, firing rapidly as I went, which caused the enemy to give ground to us, I should judge, 200 yards, in some confusion, but firing as they withdrew. Here I discovered that the enemy were intrenched and delivered well-directed volleys of musketry. I found also that my ammunition was very nearly expended (some of my men being entirely out), there was no support in sight, I had already pushed so far in the enemy's center that my line formed a semicircle, and that I was receiving the enemy's fire from three sides. At this juncture I determined to withdraw and save my command, which was done at the proper time, for had I remained there five minutes longer my whole command would have been swallowed up in the enemy's advance. My men withdrew rapidly. Those who had ammunition fired as they withdrew and divided to the right and left in order to unmask the Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers, who approached. After I had withdrawn about 400 yards. I directed my course toward our regiment's right, where I found that portion of my command which had gone to the right. Some were entangled with a portion of the New Hampshire Volunteers, whom I withdrew as soon as possible, and moved by the flank to the left, where I found Lieutenant and Acting Adjutant Hutchinson, who had rallied about 100 men around the colors. I was soon found by Captain Mills and Lieutenant Townsend with most of their commands. I reorganized the regiment there, and by direction of Colonel Hawley the men lay down to await a supply of ammunition, which had been sent for and was accordingly furnished. We afterward moved forward to fill a gap in the line occasioned by the advance of a regiment upon each side of us. Here the enemy appeared about 600 yards in front of us and a little to the left. By direction of Colonel Hawley our guide sights were raised to 600 yards, when we opened fire by file, which broke up the enemy's column and checked his advance. We remained in this position, occasionally firing or permitting a portion of the men to fire as the enemy showed himself, until by direction from the same authority we moved to the rear about 100 yards. Our forces on the right and left, being on the retreat, then faced about, and putting the guide sights at 400 yards opened an affective fire for a few minutes. Soon after this the engagement closed, though we took position in line two or three times. I was directed by Colonel Hawley to report to Colonel Barton, of the Forty-eighth Regiment New York Volunteers, which I accordingly did, and by his direction deployed 125 of my men as rear guard for the army (which had now left the field), making a line of nearly half a mile in length, a body of our cavalry being behind me. I occupied this relative position and marched in this manner until I reached Barber's Ford, for a distance of about l8 miles from the battle-field, when I marched my command onto the same ground that it had occupied before leaving Barber's Ford the morning before, my men having marched a distance of 36 miles, 18 of which was marched without rest and over bad ground; many swamps, ditches, pickets, and fences intervened to obstruct my march. Arriving here about 3 o'clock in the morning of the 21st, I remained here until about 9 a.m., when I was directed by Colonel Hawley to move with the brigade, my position being upon the left of the [Seventh] New Hampshire Volunteers . I moved in this way about three-quarters of a mile on the road to Baldwin, when I was directed by the same authority to go back to Barber's Ford and report to Colonel Barton, who ordered me to deploy my men in the same manner as the night before as a rear guard. I moved in the manner directed until we reached Baldwin, when I recalled my skirmishers, by permission of Colonel Barton, and marched my men inside of the town for the purpose of securing the knapsacks which belonged to my command, the same having been left there under guard. This done, I was directed by General Seymour to remain in Baldwin over night (all others except mounted men having continued the retreat), and to throw out a line of pickets to cover our rear. Colonel Henry soon came into town with his command, and ordered a detail from my command to load the cars, which came in about 3 o'clock the next morning. He afterward ordered me to send off half of my command with the train. I also, by his direction, scattered turpentine and rosin around in the railroad building preparatory to burning the same. Colonel Henry directed me to march with the rest of my command to Jacksonville, and go by way of the railroad. Finding, between Baldwin and Ten-Mile Station, three cars which belonged to the train which left Baldwin in the morning, one of which had 400 boxes of hard bread, Captain Mills pushed them about 3 miles with a portion of my command, having volunteered for the purpose.

Arriving at Ten-Mile Station, I found the two companies which I had sent off in the morning. After resting there half an hour, I resumed my march, arriving in Jacksonville about 7 o'clock, having marched 20 miles, and, by direction of General Seymour, I encamped in front of the redoubt.

Next morning, by direction of the same authority, I moved forward about 600 yards and to the right across the railroad, where I remained until the next day or two, when, by order of General Seymour, I joined the brigade on King's road, on Six-Mile Creek.

Of my command I can only speak in the highest terms, both officers and men exhibiting the utmost coolness, bravery, and patience; in fact, it was a feature to be noticed and praised that when called to perform arduous duties it was done with a cheerfulness really remarkable.

Inclosed you will find a list of casualties.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Captain, Seventh Connecticut Vols., Comdg. Regiment.
Lieut. E. Lewis MOORE,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

Copied from The Official Records of the War of Rebellion

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