Report of Brigadier General Joseph
commanding Confederate Forces,
on actions after the
engagement at Olustee
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF EAST FLORIDA,
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that my command occupied this place
yesterday, the enemy having retreated to Jacksonville, burning the warehouse
containing his stores. Before leaving they threw into a small pond at this
place 120 boxes of ammunition. My ordnance officer has recovered the balls,
the powder, of course, being destroyed. Everything indicates a hasty flight on
the part of the enemy. My cavalry are in front, with orders to proceed to the
vicinity of Jacksonville and watch their movements.
The abolitionists will either reorganize on a much larger scale and come out
again, or retire to some other field. They had brought a locomotive around
from Fernandina to Jacksonville, with the intention of using it on the roads
that cross at this point. I will have at this position two railroads for the
supply of my command.
Colonel Anderson, with the Fifth Georgia Cavalry, has not yet arrived. If he
had been the victory would have been much more complete. All that I wanted
was an efficient cavalry force to have captured a large number of the enemy.
Brigadier-General Gardner informed me from Tallahassee that he had been
ordered by the commanding general to take command of the troops operating in
this district. I replied that it would give me pleasure to serve under
General Gardner or any other superior officer whom the commanding general
might assign to the command, as soon as he should arrive in the district and
assume the responsibility of the movements and supply of the troops, but that
in the mean time the interests of the service required that I should command
until my successor arrived. A copy of this letter I had the honor to forward
yesterday, for the information of the commanding general. I submitted it to
Colonel Harris and Major Lay, of the commanding general's staff, and they
both concurred in the propriety of my decision.
The fact is, no officer residing at Tallahassee or Quincy can intelligently
control an army in this portion of the State with an active enemy in front.
I trust that my action in this matter will meet the approval of the
commanding general. I have acted in the manner which I considered best
calculated to promote the good of the service. It is not for me to question
the reason that induced the commanding general to order General Gardner to
control the movements of the troops in East Florida from his headquarters in
Tallahassee or Quincy, after the enemy had been signally defeated and driven
back to Jacksonville, and perhaps on board of his transports. As soon as a
superior officer arrives in this district I will cheerfully turn over the
command and render him every assistance in my power.
The enemy are being watched at Jacksonville, and I will report their
movements to-morrow or the next day. As soon as Colonel Anderson arrives a
cavalry force will be sent toward Palatka to prevent raids in that direction.
General Seymour sent a flag of truce yesterday from Jacksonville, with a
, which, with a copy of my reply, I herewith inclose.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Baldwin, February 25, 1864.
Brig. Gen. THOMAS JORDAN,
Chief of Staff.
Copied from The Official Records of the War of Rebellion.
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