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

Baldwin, February 25, 1864.

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 letter , which, with a copy of my reply, I herewith inclose.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Chief of Staff.

Copied from The Official Records of the War of Rebellion.

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