Initial Report of Brigadier General Joseph Finegan,
commanding Confederate Forces,
on the engagement at Olustee

Sanderson, February 23, 1864.

GENERAL: I had the honor to report by telegraph that the enemy had abandoned his position at Barber's place, on the Little Saint Mary's River. I pressed forward my cavalry force last night in the direction of Baldwin. I have received no report from them yet, but think that the enemy has abandoned Baldwin and retired to Jacksonville. The enemy destroyed the railroad at this place for about three-quarters of a mile, burning a portion of the iron. This delays my movements one day. I occupy Barber's place this morning with my infantry, and my cavalry are in the vicinity of Baldwin. From all that I can learn the enemy suffered severely in the late engagement and are greatly demoralized. The reports of brigade and regimental commanders are not yet in. I will forward my report as soon as those are received. I have several hundred of the enemy's wounded, white and black. I am unable to state the exact number at present, as the ambulances were still engaged in removing them from the field when I left Ocean Pond yesterday morning.

Great credit is due Brigadier-General Colquitt, Colonel Harrison, and the officers and men of their several commands for their distinguished bravery in the late engagement against superior numbers. I will take pleasure in bringing the names of the officers more particularly to the notice of the commanding general in my detailed report.

Colonel Anderson, with the Fifth Georgia Cavalry, has not yet arrived. If I had had a sufficient cavalry force I could have captured a very large number of the enemy, as their rout was complete. I respectfully request that a full supply of ammunition for this command be forwarded as soon as possible. The ordnance office has urged it forward for several days, but it has not yet arrived. Not a single man of my command was captured by the enemy, so far as I can learn.

I have forwarded 150 prisoners (not wounded) to Major-General Gilmer, with a request that he would dispose of them as the commanding general may direct. Among them are 3 negroes. What shall I do with the large number of the enemy's wounded in my hands? Many of these are negroes. I have one major, of the First North Carolina (negro) Regiment, and some other officers. A complete list will be forwarded as soon as it can be prepared.

The returns will show that I will have more wounded than I at first supposed . The list will probably reach between 600 and 700, 300 or 400 of whom will be fit for duty in a few weeks, being but slight flesh wounds. I think that we encountered nearly the entire force of the enemy in this district.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.


Chief of Staff, Charleston, S.C.

Copied from The Official Records of the War of Rebellion.

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