Headquarters, Department of the South
Hilton Head, S.C. February 18, 1864
Brig. Gen. T. Seymour,
I am convinced that a movement upon Lake City is not, in the present condition of transportation, advisable, and, indeed, what has been said of the desire of Florida to come back now is a delusion. This movement is in opposition to sound strategy, &c.And again:
The Union cause would have been far more benefited by Jeff. Davis having removed this railroad to Virginia than by any trivial and non-strategic success you may meet. By all means, therefore, fall back to Jacksonville.So much from your letter of the 11th; and yet, five (six) days later, you proposed to push forward without instructions and without provisions, with a view to destroying the railroad, which you say it would have been better for Jeff. Davis to have got; and furthermore, you say in your letter of the 16th:
There is but little doubt in my mind that the people of the State, kindly treated by us, will soon be ready to return to the Union; they are heartily tired of the war.As may be supposed, I am very much confused by these conflicting views, and am thrown into doubt as to whether my intentions with regard to Florida matters are fully understood by you. I will therefore reannounce them briefly: First, I desire to bring Florida into the Union under the President's proclamation of December 8, 1863; as accessory to the above, I desire, second, to revive the trade on the Saint John's River; third, to recruit my colored regiments and organize a regiment of Florida white troops; fourth, to cut off in part the enemy's supplies drawn from Florida. After you had withdrawn your advance, it was arranged between us, at a personal interview, that the places to be permanently held for the present would be the south prong of the Saint Mary's, Baldwin, Jacksonville, Magnolia, and Palatka, and that Henry's mounted force should be kept moving as circumstances might justify or require. This is my plan of present operations. A raid to tear up the railroad west of Lake City will be of service, but I have no intention to occupy now that part of the State.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Copied from The Official Records of the War of Rebellion.