THE IRON HEARTED REGIMENT
THE CAMPAIGN IN FLORIDA.
At 4 o'clock on the morning of February 7th, we reached the bar at the mouth
of St. Johns river, Florida.
At 12 M., only fifteen vessels of the fleet had been able to cross the bar,
but during the day the tide rose and all passed safely over.
At 1 P.M., the entire fleet sailed for the city of Jacksonville, fifty miles
up the river.
The buildings along the banks were filled with greybacks of all ages, but none
of them appeared in the least warlike. Some of the ladies actually waved handkerchiefs
and threw kisses; but the men skulked behind trees and old sheds, and attentively
viewed the proud Yankee fleet and the gay display of national bunting.
As far up as Jacksonville the river is crooked and muddy, while the banks glisten
with pure white sand, appearing in the distance like great banks of snow.
Jacksonville was reached just as the sun was sinking in the west, and the sky
was a blaze of glory. The vessels sailed up to the dock, and the same time our
bands discoursed national airs.
The surprise was complete, and we occupied the
town with a loss of three men, capturing the rebel Signal Corps, and some other
A guerrilla observing the expedition approaching swore that he would shoot the
first man who set foot on the dock. The first mate of the steamer "General
Hunter" happened to jump on the dock first, when the concealed assassin
shot him through the right breast. A colored soldier of the 55th Massachusetts
was also shot.
MIDNIGHT ATTACK ON CAMP FINNEGAN.
On the 8th, the men boxed up dress coats and threw away all extra clothing preparatory
At sundown a portion of the division moved from Jacksonville in three columns,
for the purpose of attacking, at midnight, the rebel Camp Finnegan, distant
ten or twelve miles.
We made a hard march--mostly on a double quick--through swamps and woods, fording
creeks and scaling piles of logs and brush, until the point of attack was just
The march had, so far, been so secret and rapid, and so well conducted, that
the whole rebel picket line, extending for three miles, was gobbled up, and
not a man of them escaped to warn the main army of our approach.
The rebel camp was nearly surrounded, when unfortunately, they became alarmed
from some cause, and a large number of the rebel soldiers managed to escape
to the swamps.
The Union troops immediately took possession of the camp, a large number of
prisoners, nine pieces of artillery, a wagon load of small arms, swords and
sabres enough to arm a cavalry company, one flag, and a considerable quantity
of stores and ammunition as the fruits of victory.
The rebel camp was filled with fat turkeys, chickens, ducks, and geese; and
as soon as arms were stacked the order to charge hen-coops was given, and the
soldiers soon swept away all poultry from before them until the feathers flew
in all directions. Such a cackling and gobbling was never before heard in eastern
Florida, and the rebels secreted in neighboring swamps must have enjoyed the
midnight serenade, to say the least. The camp was abandoned in great haste.
We found hogs hanging up just dressed; kettles of beef steaming over the fire;
plates of warm hominy and liver on the table; and papers and books strewn about
in every direction. Rebel officers hardly stopped to dress, and left coats and
swords behind for the dreaded Yankees.
Col. Henry, with a detachment of the 1st Mass. Independent Cavalry, charged
and captured a battery of eight guns in a swamp.
At about 2 o'clock a heavy picket line was thrown out, and the remainder of
the army lay down to rest. We were soon brought to our feet again, for the guerrillas
had attacked the pickets; but by the time that arms were taken from the stacks,
the guerrillas were repulsed, and the firing ceased.
Among some letters found, was one from a rebel soldier in Bragg's army, to
his cousin in Camp Finnegan. In describing the battle of Chattanooga, he takes
occasion to say: "The Yankees whipped us terribly at Chattanooga; and after
the fight, one of our brigades stacked arms and left for home."
SURPRISE AND CAPTURE OF BALDWIN.
During the morning of February 9th, our men were engaged in scouring the swamps
and woods for the purpose of cleaning out the rebels. They appeared to be perfectly
panic-stricken, and large numbers of them surrendered without firing a gun or
making the least resistance.
We made a hard march to Baldwin, a town situated fifteen miles from Camp Finnegan.
A portion of the march was through a swamp, and for long distance the water
was knee deep, so that we got pretty well soaked by night.
Our troops gained another bloodless victory at Baldwin. At about daylight they
surrounded, surprised, attacked and captured the town with all its contents,
without suffering the loss of a The rebels had a battery mounted on a platform
car, which might have done us great damage, but the 40th Massachusetts gallantly
charged and captured it.
The fruits of our victory were a number of prisoners, several pieces of artillery,
cotton valued at $25,000, immense quantities of turpentine, resin,
pitch, tobacco, and salt; also, the telegraph and post offices complete, a train
of cars, &c., besides gaining possession of three lines of rail road.
SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR FIRING OFF A GUN.
But few outside of the army are aware of the summary manner in which a soldier
is punished if he disobeys orders. A couple of incidents occurred to-day, that
partially illustrate the character of sentences sometimes imposed.
A soldier of Co. H fired off his gun contrary to orders, and was sentenced to
be shot within three hours.
The Provost Marshal General came up to the man, and in a solemn tone asked
him if he was ready to die. The poor fellow was completely overcome, as he realized
that he was under sentence of death, and the big tears started from his eyes.
The Provost marshal continued: "Sir, get your affairs ready, for you die
within three hours!" The last words sounded the death-knell in his ear,
and the tears froze on his checks. He asked if there was no hope--no chance
to escape the fearful doom?
Ah, yes; there is always hope while there is life. He was a good soldier,
and his officers interceded for him, and in a short time presented him the joyful
tidings that he was pardoned--snatched from the grave. Tears of thankfulness
rolled down his cheeks, and he resolved to be a better man.
Another soldier took a chicken from a poor widow, when he knew that he was
disobeying orders. For that, he too was sentenced to be shot, but was pardoned
for the reason that he had always been a good soldier.
A BOLD REBEL SPY.
An old looking chap, a genuine specimen of an east Florida bushwacker, came
into Baldwin and pretended to be very sick. He said he was a good Union man,
but had been forced into the rebel service at the point of the bayonet, &c.,
He took note of everything transpiring around town, when he very coolly walked
up to the rail road track, and was finally on his way to the rebel lines with
his valuable information, when a negro informed an officer that the sick soldier
was a captain in the rebel army. He was immediately pursued, caught, and searched,
and a commission as captain in the Confederate army was found in his clothing.
He was of course, placed under guard, and was held as a spy.
OUR ADVANCE FALL IN AN AMBUSCADE AT BARBER'S PLANTATION.
We moved from Baldwin in the afternoon of February 10th, and marched until midnight,
halting at Barber's plantation on the St. Mary's river. To prevent surprise
we camped in a hollow square with artillery in the centre, and cavalry on the
In the morning our cavalry advance was ambushed at the crossing of the St. Mary's
river, and our men were shot down in true Indian style, and
killed with a brutality that would cause one's blood to run cold.
The rebel murderers tore up the bridge, which made it necessary for our men
to pass through a narrow defile, with a dense growth to trees and brush on either
They unexpectingly dashed into the dark haunt of death, when from every tree
and stump came the cruel bullet, and three of the brave fellows fell without
a moment's warning. The remainder instantly dismounted to avenge the death of
their comrades; but the cowardly rebels had fled, not daring to meet the Union
boys on even footing.
The cavalrymen pursued them swiftly and succeeded in shooting several, two
of whom they captured, but they were badly wounded and soon died. The barbarous
crew were unworthy of even the name of rebels, for it is said that they murdered
at least one of our men in cold blood. The unfortunate man was a sergeant. He
was wounded with the others, and being unable to help himself was left where
he lay for a short time. The rebels upon coming back, observed that he was not
dead, and put six balls into his body, and then left him struggling in the agonies
The murdered man had a thirty day furlough in his pocket, and expected to go
home in a few days. He did go to his long, long home.
Our dead were buried in one grave at the foot of a large pine, close by the
St. Mary's river. A rude cross was hewn on the tree, to mark the last resting
place of the dead heroes.
A GIANT REBEL.
A rebel, six feet four in his boots, dressed in Confederate uniform, with nearly
a cart-load of clothing on his back, had the misfortune to mistake the 115th
for a column of rebel troops, and marched along with us for some distance. When
told of his grave mistake his surprise knew no bounds; yet he instantly declared
he was a good Union man.
THE TOWN OF SANDERSON TAKEN.
On the 11th, we marched to Sanderson, a distance of eight miles, and occupied
the town without opposition.
The rebels had taken warning at our approach and burned all their depots of
supplies, half an acre of corn-cribs, and immense quantities of salt.
They set the woods on fire so as to obstruct our onward march, but it was "no
go." So far we had surmounted all difficulties and carried terror to the
hearts of traitors.
Our cavalry pushed on until within two miles of Lade City, but not being strong
enough to attack, returned to Sanderson.
We camped in the streets of the town at night, and the rain fell in torrents.
I awoke at three o'clock in the morning and found six inches of water under
my blanket, and myself wet to the skin and numb with cold. Several of us stood
around a fire and shivered until daylight.
Three of the "Johnnies" being rather "hard up" for grub,
and not very bitter advocates of treason, came to the edge of a piece of woods
and waved a couple of white rags as tokens of peace. Some of the boys went up
to them, took away their guns, and escorted them to camp, where they took the
oath of allegiance.
On the 12th we breakfasted three hours before daylight, and marched back to
Barber's to await the arrival of reinforcements.
SINGLE ENCOUNTERS IN THE WOODS.
One of our men came suddenly across a rebel cavalryman in the woods. The rebel
was ordered to surrender, but instead of that he jumped from his horse, threw
his gun and sabre upon the ground and took to the swamp for dear life. Doubtful
if he has stopped yet.
Another had the audacity to ride up to a cavalryman and inquire "when
the Yankee infantry were coming along?" Without waiting for an answer,
he wheeled his horse around and flew toward a piece of woods. The "Yankee" pursued and overtook him, when a hand to hand fight took place. It ended in
the rebel being knocked from his horse and made a prisoner of war.
A MARCH OF SEVENTY MILES THROUGH FLORIDA SWAMPS.
The 115th was selected by the general commanding to proceed to a town called
Callahan Station, near the Georgia line, for the double purpose of scouring
the country and to destroy the rail road and burn some ferry boats.
Early on the morning of the 14th, accompanied by one gun of battery B, U.S.
artillery, and three companies of Massachusetts cavalry, we started on a march
of seventy miles.
Our path lay through swamp and water until noon, when we halted for dinner at
the house of a man who beheld for the first time in four years the flag of his
He had never heard of greenbacks, and saw a United States soldier for the first
time since the Indian war. We took up the line of march again in the afternoon
and halted at dark.
Camped in a piece of pine woods, having marched twenty-five miles during the
On the 15th, we left all blankets and coats under a guard of fifty men, and
passed forward to Callahan. Having accomplished the object of the expedition,
we started on the return, and camped at night where we left in the morning.
Marched twenty-five miles.
On the 16th, rations were scarce, salt in great demand, and hard-tack above
We broke camp at 4 o'clock in the afternoon and marched steadily until eight
in the evening, when we halted for supper.
A council of officers was held, to decide whether we should proceed or not.
The men were all tired out, our feet were bleeding, and every soldier declared
that they could not go a single inch farther.
It was dangerous to tarry; so it was decided that the men could rest until 1
P.M., when we must march to Barber's with all possible haste.
For supper each company received half a beeve and some pork.
Promptly at 1 o'clock we were on the march.
It was a terrible tramp to say the least, and will never be forgotten by those
who took part in it. We were obliged to ford creeks and rivers in the cold and
thick darkness, and the only way the men could see was by the aid of large fires
kindled by a guard sent in advance.
We reached Barber's at eight A.M., about an hour before the cavalry and artillery.
Our march had been so rapid, that the cavalry and artillery houses were worn
out, and many had dropped down dead along the road.
The two other branches of the service admitted that the 115th could beat their
time; that infantry on bad roads could out-march cavalry and artillery.
THE BATTLE OF OLUSTEE.
Little did we think when we left Barber's on the morning of the 20th, that before
night we would engage in a hard and bloody battle.
Our march had been so triumphant through
Florida that we began to think the rebels would offer no serious resistance;
but they had guietly and secretly drawn all their forces from Georgia, South
Carolina, and Florida, had concentrated at Olustee, eighteen miles from Barber's,
and were waiting our advance.
We marched in three columns, with the 7th New Hampshire armed with the Spencer
repeating rifle in advance as skirmishers, until the battle commenced.
The force of the rebels was about 16,000, while ours was barely 5000.
REGIMENTS ENGAGED ON THE UNION SIDE.
The following regiments were engaged on the Union side: 47th New York, 48th
New York, 7th New Hampshire, 1st N.C. colored, 115th New York, 7th Conn., 8th
U.S. colored, 54 Mass. colored, 40th Mass. Mounted Infantry, Batteries B and
C, U.S. Artillery, and Battery C, 3d Rhode Island Artillery.
REGIMENTS ENGAGED ON THE REBEL SIDE.
The following regiments were engaged on the rebel side, according to the Savannah
Republican: 1st Georgia Infantry, 23d Georgia Infantry, 27th Georgia Infantry,
28th Georgia Infantry, 32d Georgia Infantry, 64th Georgia Infantry, 1st Florida
Infantry, 6th Florida Infantry, 2d Florida cavalry, 4th Georgia Cavalry, Scott's
Battalion Cavalry, Boone's Battalion Cavalry, Florida Light Artillery, Chatain
Artillery, and Gerard's Battery.
HOW THE BATTLE CAME ABOUT.
When the battle began, the left of the Union army was resting on the rail road
track, after a hard and fatiguing march of nineteen miles.
The 7th New Hampshire was deployed as skirmishers, and coming in contact with
the rebel skirmish line, instantly attacked and drove them in their works.
WHERE THE BATTLE WAS FOUGHT
The bloody battle of Olustee was fought on Saturday, February 20th, 1864, at
a station on the Florida, Atlantic & Gulf Central R.R., between a force
of 16,000 rebels, under Generals Finnegan, Colquett, and Harrison, and 5,000
Union troops under General Seymour.
The battle began at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and raged with unexampled fury,
until night drew her dark mantle over the scene.
HOW THE CONTENDING ARMIES WERE FORMED.
The rebels chose their own position, formed their long lines of battle in a
half circle, posted their deadly sharpshooters behind every available stump,
tree, and fence, and even in the tree-tops, and engaged us with an overwhelming
army of fresh troops.
Our army formed in a single line of battle and boldly attacked the enemy, holding
their ground against the most fearful odds for three hours.
GALLANTRY OF THE 115TH.
Nearly all the troops on the Union side fought with desperation, but the 115th
Regiment of New York Volunteers made the most gallant fight, and contested the
field inch by inch the most stubbornly of all.
Its fearful and almost unparalleled loss of men, being more than one half of
the whole number engaged, is the only argument necessary to substantiate the
statement; for they were not swept away while rushing with terror and confusion
to the rear, but were all killed and wounded while standing up in solid and
unbroken line, bravely and gallantly fighting the enemy.
Up to the opening of the fight, the regiment together with the other troops,
had marched nineteen miles without partaking of morsel of food, and although
tired, hungry, thirsty and foot-sore, cheerfully rushed into the very thickest
of the conflict, nerved by the terrible battle cry of "Harper's Ferry!"
Before we became engaged, some of our comrades were falling, and many were
dragging themselves to the rear covered with blood.
Our men became frenzied at the sight, and begged to be hurried to the front
that they might avenge the death of those already fallen, and hurl their patriotic
columns against the foe. They did not wait long, for the command to move forward
soon rang along the line: "Battalion, forward! guide center, double quick--march!" thundered the Colonel.
We instantly swept forward in a beautiful line in the face of a galling fire,
through reeds higher than our heads, and over logs and fences, until the hateful
columns of southern grey were plainly visible. We halted and began to fire,
and they greeted our appearance with a deadly volley of musketry.
It was now a continuous roar on both sides, and for three long hours the swift
tide of battle surged with cruel fury. There was no lull in the rattle of musketry--no
calm and serene moment of security. The leaden messengers of death hailed down
in unceasing torrents. Grape and canister swept by with hideous music, and shell
after shell tore through our ranks and burst amid heaps of our wounded heroes.
THE REBELS CHARGE THE REGIMENT.
The 115th was entrusted with the right of the line of battle, and the rebels
observing our fearfully thin ranks, boldly advanced to drive us back.
The 115th closed up and stood the shock like a mountain of adamant. Our men
poured such a withering and destructive fire into their massed columns that
they soon began to waver, and at last went reeling and staggering back with
GREAT SLAUGHTER AMONG ARTILLERY.
Unfortunately our artillery had been planted almost up to the rebel works, and
in a short space of time nearly every gun was rendered useless. The horses and
men were nearly all killed or wounded, and it was the greatest slaughter among
artillery known in the history of this war.
The----United States colored troops formed and maneuvered under fire, and suffered
heavy losses. They were marched on the field in column of company, and then
formed in line under a destructive fire. Their colonel was then shot dead from
his horse, and the arms of the regiment were not loaded; but they preserved
their line admirably and fought splendidly.
A BAYONET CHARGE.
The balls were flying thicker and thicker, the 115th was growing smaller and
smaller, and the boys were falling faster and faster, but they kept closing
up to their battle flag, and sent cheers of defiance to the rebels.
All the officers were dressed in full uniform, and with swords raised, coolly
urged the men to be steady and fire low. Our fire now began to tell dreadfully
in the ranks of the enemy, and their fire grew feebler.
The 54th Massachusetts Colored Volunteers, which had been in reserve, now came
up on the double-quick, to make a charge to recapture if possible some of our
The 115th New York had not a single round of ammunition (even the boxes of
the killed and wounded had become exhausted), but they fixed bayonets, and with
a soul-stirring cheer, rushed forward with the 54th.
The fire of the enemy was too heavy for the little band, and they were compelled
to fall back to their old position after desperate fighting.
THE REGIMENT SAVES THE ARMY FROM CAPTURE.
After three hours of fighting, every regiment excepting the 115th had been compelled
to leave the field.
Our boys occupied precisely the same position which they did at the opening
of the battle.
They stood battling over the bodies of their fallen comrades, and would not
be driven from the field, or own themselves whipped.
At last the shades of night covered the field of blood, and we were then ordered
to the rear. After giving three ringing cheers of defiance to the rebels, the
regiment slowly and sadly dragged themselves away.
Over one half were killed and wounded, and the remainder were black with powder
and the smoke of battle, and could hardly move.
But they made a long and wearisome night's march of nineteen miles, and then
snatched a few hours of harried sleep on the cold ground.
General Seymour who was scarcely ever known to pay a compliment to a volunteer
regiment, said "The 115th was the best regiment he ever saw under fire."
A staff officer pointing to the 115th as they were in the heat and storm of
battle, and noticing how firmly they stood, and how bravely and grandly they
breasted the waves of iron and leaden fury, asked; "What stone wall is
that standing there?"
Everybody acquainted with the circumstances, admit that the 115th by their
determined bravery, saved the whole Florida expedition from capture.
was very unjustly censured by the mass of the people north.
He probably ought not to have fought the battle of Olustee with his small
army, but we believe him to be a brave and true The following extract from on
of the Hilton Head papers places the matter in its true light.
"We cannot say to much in praise of General Seymour's conduct in the
fight. he handled the troops in a splendid manner, and directed the battle personally
regardless of danger. When it was finally deemed prudent to retire, the whole
force was withdrawn in the best order, with none of the confusion of a rout.
The results of the engagement, embracing as they do, a forced retreat and the
loss of many good men, are of course to be regretted, but we see nothing disheartening
about them, and are happy to say that the morale of our troops remains unimpaired,
with a strong desire throughout the force to meet the enemy again on more equal
TERRIBLE SUFFERING AMONG THE WOUNDED.
The poor fellows who were wounded had a terrible time. All who desired to escape
southern dungeons and the cruelties of the foe, were obliged to go a distance
of nineteen miles without help.
Many were badly wounded and could not stir, and they were left to the tender
mercies of the enemy.
For nearly three hours I escaped injury, and when I saw my comrades shot down
around me and myself uninjured, I began to conclude that I was bullet proof.
Suddenly a stinging sensation was felt in my right side, and I realized that
I was wounded. I remained with the company a short time, but beginning to grow
faint I informed by captain and started for the rear. In a short time I came
across a surgeon with about twenty wounded lying around him, and saw that he
was engaged in the bloody work of amputation.
Just then a cruel shell burst in their midst, and sent the mangled remains of
several of them flying in all directions.
I turned away from the sickening sight with horror.
I next approached the quarter of our own surgeon, and found him surrounded
by fifty wounded, his sleeves rolled up, his arms crimsoned with blood, and
himself engaged in cutting out balls. With the stream of wounded men from different
regiments I hurried on towards Sanderson.
Some lay down along the road and declared that they could go no farther. Others
were fast bleeding to death, and some fell down exhausted to die.
At last I reached Sanderson, nine miles distant. Several of us who concluded
that we could go no farther, went into a hotel and lay down on the floor. A
surgeon soon came in and said that unless we made all possible haste towards
Barber's we would all be captured, as the rebels were close by.
We all concluded that it would be better to die walking or even crawling towards
freedom, than to starve to death in rebel dungeons; so we moved off towards
A company of the 40th Massachusetts Mounted Infantry, came along and generally
dismounted, helping thirty of our boys on their horses. This saved almost all
of the party from capture.
The animal which I rode carried me a mile with great difficulty, and then lay
down in the mud to die.
I started on again, when pretty shortly a mounted officer approached, and
after enquiring my name, rank, and regiment, assisted me in mounting his horse
which I rode two miles, when I was again forced to try to virtue of "shanks'
I reached Barber's at 3 o'clock in the morning, nearly dead, and found the
remnant of the regiment asleep.
I sat down on a cracker box to warm myself by a campfire, when I fainted away
and pitched into it headlong. There were but four cars at Barber's
to carry the many hundreds of wounded, but I was fortunate enough to get on
The cars were terribly crowded; as many as seventy being on a small platform,
and several of us had to hang together to keep from falling off.
They were drawn by mules and went very slowly. We were the whole of Sunday and
until 12 o'clock Sunday night reaching Jacksonville.
Some of the poor fellows suffered badly. They had nothing to eat or drink, were
so crowded that they could not sleep, and no chance to change their cramped
and painful positions.
At Jacksonville the wounded were all placed on hospital boats and sent to Hilton
Head and Beaufort, one hundred and sixty miles away.
COMMENTS OF THE UNION PRESS.
The following are some of the comments of the press, in relation to the gallantry
of the 115th Regiment at Olustee.
[From the N.Y. Tribune.]
"Desperate assaults on the Union right failed to drive in the brave 115th
N.Y., holding the extremity of the line.
The genial and chivalrous Col. S. Sammons was wounded in the foot; Major Walworth's
shoulder strap was cut away by a bullet. They lost dreadfully. Among the killed
were Second Lieut. Sheffer, Co. G, and Second Lieut. W. Tompkins, Co. C, Captain
G. Van Derveer was wounded in the leg and breast; Second Lieut. J. Davis, Co.
A, was fatally wounded in the breast, and was left on the retreat at Sanderson
to be treated by the rebels.
Second Lieut. E. Smith, Co. B, got a shot in the right shoulder; Capt. W. W.
French, Co. F, had his ancle shattered; Second Lieut. Clark, Co. H, was hurt
in the shoulder. As an instance of what the 115th endured, Co. F may be cited.
Out of fifty-nine men brought in the fight, three were killed and twenty-nine
[From the Amsterdam Despatch.]
THE 115TH N.Y. VOLS.
This noble band of heroes was sorely dealt with at the late "Seymour slaughter" in Florida.
Joseph Allen, who was left behind the regiment at Hilton Head, writes: "I
have been over to see Colonel Sammons, who is severely wounded in the foot;
he says the loss of the regiment is three hundred and four in killed, wounded
and missing. The boys fought bravely and desperately, and the Colonel says,
have the hearty commendation of the General commanding for their determined
bravery. The regiment went into the fight with sixty rounds of cartridges, used
them all and then sought a supply from their fallen comrades."
[From the Mohawk Valley American.]
From the letters received here we glean the following facts: Col. Sammons wounded
in the foot.
Captain Van Derveer, Co. H, of this village, received a flesh wound in the hip,
in the early part of the engagement, but kept at his post until he was hit by
a ball just inside of the left shoulder, which passed out near the spine, when
he was carried off the field on an army blanket.
He is supposed to be mortally wounded. Lieut. John W. Davis was mortally wounded
in the bowels; the boys carried him seven miles, and then as he was dying left
him on the field.
[From the Troy Times.]
It is stated that the One Hundred and Fifteenth regiment, which was in the advance
in the late Florida expedition, lost three hundred in killed, wounded and missing.
Col. Simmeon Sammons was wounded in the ancle, and it is feared amputation may
be necessary. Captain Van Derveer and lieut. Davis, of Co. A, were badly wounded
and left on the field. Captain French, Co. B, was wounded in the leg: and Lieut.
Sheffer, of Co. G, was also killed with other non-commissioned officers.
The following comments are from the rebel papers:
[From the Tallahassee Floridian.]
Some 200 Yankee wounded have been brought to this city since the battle of Olustee,
mostly foreigners and negroes; the foreigners were miserable looking fellows,
not a bit too good to be put on an equality with the negroes; and in the hospital
in every case, whites and negroes were laid side by side, in order to give the
whites a taste of the equality they are fighting for. More than one thousand
(?) dead bodies of Union soldiers have already been buried on the battle field,
and the Confederate dead only numbered one hundred and thirty-five, exclusive
of thirty who afterward died from their wounds. General Gardner, commanding
the Confederate troops in Seymour's battle, has assumed command of all the Confederate
troops in Florida.
[From the Savannah Republican.]
A correspondent writes; "I participated in the battles around Richmond
and upon the Peninsula as I have in this, and have never witnessed a more stubbornly
contested field. The engagement lasted upward of four hours, during about three
of which, the enemy contested inch by inch very manfully, the advance of our
The Savannah Republican also stated, that a large number of amputations had
been performed among the Yankee wounded at Tallahassee, and that a majority
of those operated upon had died.
ARRIVAL OF THE WOUNDED AT BEAUFORT.
When a boat load of wounded arrived at Beaufort, the generals and surgeons were
mostly attending a ball; and the following account from the Free South, shows
that it affected the pleasure party: "Everything went merrily on until
the news came of the arrival of the "Cosmopolitan" with the wounded
from Florida. Although war has hardened our hearts, and rendered us callous
to its horrors in a great degree, yet few could look upon such a scene of festivity
without being struck with its incongruity, when within a few hundred yards of
it lay groaning and dying men.
Generals Gilmore and Saxton left the room and went aboard the Cosmopolitan,
and upon consultation, it was thought best to close the ball at once. Though
a great disappointment, it was borne with commendable patience by those who
had devoted so much time, labor and money, in the affair.
GENERAL SEYMOUR TO THE ARMY
After the battle, the following order was issued to the troops:
Headquarters, District of Florida,
Department of the South,'
Jacksonville, Fla., March 10, 1864.
General Orders, No. 13.
The Brigadier General commanding, recurs with great satisfaction to the conduct
of his troops in their late battle, and desires to convey to them in the most
public manner, his full appreciation of their steadfast courage on that well
Against superior numbers, holding a position chosen by themselves, you were
all but successful.
For four hours you stood face to face with the
enemy, and when the battle ended, and it ceased only with night, you sent him
cheers of defiance.
In your repulse there was perhaps misfortune; but neither disaster or disgrace;
and every officer and soldier may forever remember with just pride, that he
fought at Olustee.
By order of Brig. Gen. T. SEYMOUR.
R. M. Hall, A. A. A. G.
CO. H ON A SCOUT.
For a long time Captain Smith had resolved to pay a visit to some rebels in
the interior of eastern Florida; and on the morning of the 1st he concluded
his arrangements, and succeeded in playing the "April fool" on the
"Johnnies" in a practical way.
Early in the morning before the sun had crimsoned the eastern sky, he selected
twenty-five men from company H who were armed with the destructive Spencer repeating
rifle, and one of his most trusty native scouts, and embarked on a little gun-boat
provided for the purpose.
The object of the expedition was to endeavor to capture a rebel picket post,
known to be stationed thirty-two miles from Piladka, far into the interior of
the enemy's country.
It was a very dangerous and risky undertaking, but the captain with just confidence
in his own skill and the bravery and gallantry of his boys, was confident of
The little boat carried them safely through the
river, up creeks and across small lakes, until they were within five miles of
It was now necessary to march to the point of attack; and for that purpose
they started forward in good spirits, and after wading through a dense swamp
occupied by snakes and alligators only, at last came within sight of the post.
The rebel guard were found to consist of cavalry, and were in the second story
of a house, while all their horses and equipments were in a barn close by.
The captain now went quietly at work and formed his men for the attack. They
were thrown around the house in a circle so that none of the rebels could possibly
The horses were secured and taken a short distance into the woods.
Everything now being ready, the order to move forward was given.
The boys started with a wild yell, and closed in upon the house. The rebels
were so surprised and terrified that before they recovered from their consternation
or had time to seize their loaded muskets standing against the wall, the boys
charged up the stairs like a flash, and took the whole party prisoners.
"Surrender!" they all cried.
"We give in," replied the rebels.
"April fool!" thundered all the boys in a single breath, gathering
around the wondering rebels.
"I thought the hull Yankee army was a comin',
and I reckon we're April fooled right smart," said one of the prisoners.
"Three cheers for the Union!" suggested on of company H. It was given
with a will.
"What's this?" inquired another Union boy, holding up to view sheet
of dirty looking letter paper that had evidently just been ritten on.
"It's a letter I reckon, Yank, an' I was a writin' on't when you'ns come
up here," answered a reb.
"Well--yes, I see," continued Union. "Let me see: you wrote
hat all was quiet along the lines, and the ink wasn't dry on the paper when
we were after you like a thousand of brick. Ha! ha! From the appearance of things
the captain began to think that some of the guard must be absent from the post;
so selecting one of the prisoners he took him aside and said: "Sir, I am
going to ask you a question, and your fate hangs on your answer; lie to me and
your doom is sealed. Are not a part of your men absent?"
"Well, captain, I don't dare to tell, for if they find out they'll murder
"No sir; they shall never know it," said the captain, firmly.
"W-e-l-l, yes--I reckon they are," hesitatingly replied the prisoner.
"How many of them are there?"
"A sergeant and one man, I reckon." "Where can they be found?
Tell me the truth."
"Won't ye'r tell on me, capting?"
"Then I will tell yer, although I kinder reckon how I ort'nt. They are
up the road about two miles."
Believing by his manner that he told the truth, our guide was dressed in the
uniform of a Georgia cavalryman, mounted on one of the captured horses, and
thus attired he started to look after the missing gentry, with a dozen of the
boys "armed to the teeth" following on behind.
Suddenly he came close the them in the road, and found them well armed and mounted.
They took a harried glance toward the guide, and observing that he rode one
of their horses, and was dressed in grey the same as themselves, supposed that
he was one of their own men, and allowed him to ride up very closely.
The guide suddenly drew a revolver and cried at the top of his voice, "Surrender,
you cowardly whelps, or I'll blow you into eternity in an instant!"
The argument was quite convincing, and just at that moment the boys came out
of the woods with a noise that made the rebels think that a whole regiment was
upon them. So they surrendered at once.
"By heavens! I've got you now, you heartless rascal," said the guide,
shaking his revolver; under the nose of one of the prisoners. "You're the
man who conscripted my brother and then murdered him because he tried to escape
"Don't be too fast, guide," said one of our boys, observing the
rebel trembling with fear.
"Yes," continued the guide, "you're the man who consigned me
to prison, and drove by family beggars to the swamps. I'll have vengeance now!" and he sprang upon his foe, but before he had a chance to draw a dagger, or
cock a revolver, the boys had him secure.
It was now time to be moving toward home; so after gathering up their traps,
the procession moved off. They had captured one sergeant and nine men, with
arms completed, and thirteen horses and equipments.
Upon reaching the boat the horses and prisoners were conveyed through a swamp
for one mile and a half, where no white man had ever before trodden; and more
than all this, the horses were made to swim the St. John's river. On the way
down, a valuable rebel mail was captured and taken along with the other captured
The scouting party reached Piladka at sundown with their prisoners and booty,
much to the surprise of everybody.
One of the company got lost in a swamp, and for three days and nights subsisted
on sweet oranges and berries. He finally reached the St John's river, and getting
upon a log, pushed out into the stream and floated for nearly thirty miles,
rebels, alligators, and torpedoes, reaching Piladka safely with his gun and
The general commanding issued the following order in relation to the expedition,
and it was read before every regiment and detachment in Florida.
Headquarters, District of Florida
Department of the South
Jacksonville, Fla., April 3d, 1864
General Orders, No. 19.
The Brigadier General commanding desires to make known to his command, the successful
accomplishment of a daring and difficult expedition, by a detachment of twenty-five
men of Co. H, 115th N.Y. Vols., commanded by Capt. S. P. Smith, of the same
regiment. This little party sent from Piladka to a point thirty-two miles from
the post, surprised and captured a picket of the enemy, consisting of one sergeant
and nine men, with their arms, and thirteen horses and equipments complete.
To bring off the horses it was necessary to swim the St. John's river, and force
them for a mile and a half through a swamp previously considered impracticable.
The energy, intrepidity and skill with which this expedition was conducted,
demands the praise of the commander of this district, and the imitation of troops
thereafter detached on similar expeditions.
By Command of
Brig. Gen. J. P. Hatch
February 24, to April 13.--From the 24th of February to the 9th of March, the
115th remained in the vicinity of Jacksonville, skirmishing frequently with
the powerful rebel force in front of the Union army, and aiding in checking
On the evening of the 9th they embarked on a transport with other troops, sailed
seventy miles up the St. John's river, through a terrible thunder storm, passing
torpedoes and rebel batteries in safety, and occupied the old U.S. military
post at Piladka on the morning of the 10th, without opposition.
While at Piladka they did an immense amount of hard work of various kinds.
Several skirmishes were had with the rebels, and a portion of the regiment scoured
that part of the state, rescuing hundreds of Union men, women, and children,
from the swamps.
They also hunted down rebel conscription agents, captured rebel mails, picked
up stray rebel soldiers, and kept the rebel camp in constant commotion.
April 13.--Orders received to evacuate the town. The troops engaged in packing
April 14.--Troops began to embark at day light. All the Union refugees were
placed on boats, so that they could accompany the army. Just before dark, the
115th being deployed as skirmishers to cover the evacuation, company H fired
the breastworks, and under the cover of night the whole fleet sailed for Jacksonville,
protected by gun-boats.
April 15.--We reached Jacksonville at 10 A.M. The General Hunter, one of our
boats, was blown up by a rebel torpedo, and two lives lost.
We camped in one of the city squares, cooked four days rations, and received
one hundred rounds of ammunition each. Embarked on board a transport at dark,
and lay at the dock until the next morning.
April 16.--Sailed at 10 A.M., the band playing "To the Mississippi I
April 17.--Reached Hilton Head at daylight. The troops left the vessel and
marched to the beach, where arms were stacked. The regiment engaged in changing
baggage and stores to a larger vessel. Officers ordered to leave behind all
trunks. Camped on the ground at night.
April 18.--The 115th and three other regiments are crowded on board the steamer
Northern Light, and on their way to Fortress Monroe. General Terry is on board,
and he has summoned the officers together, telling them to allow no smoking
during the voyage, as fire is our greatest enemy, and in case of fire nothing
an save a great portion of those on board the vessel from destruction.
April 19.--Sea rough. Officers and men mostly all sea sick. Drifted one hundred
miles out of our course at night. Have not left my bunk for forty hours.
April 20.--Passed the light-house of Fortress Monroe.
April 21.--Reached Fortress Monroe in the morning. Sailed to Gloucester Point,
opposite Yorktown, and at 4 P.M. were conveyed to the shore on ferry boats.
We encamped at night on a rise of ground back from the river. The hills are
all white with tents belonging to the 10th Army Corps.
April 22 to 30.--On the 22nd engaged in pitching tents and making ourselves
comfortable. On the 23rd the regiment worked hard in unloading boats. From the
24th to the 29th the whole army as constantly drilling. All camp and garrison
equipage, and old tents, were sent to Norfolk for storage, and the men received
shelters. Fifty sailors from the 115th enlisted in the navy. On the 29th the
best regiment in the brigade was ordered on picket, and the 115th was complemented
by being selected.
April 30.--10th Corps reviewed by General Butler. The troops looked splendidly
and the line is three miles in length. Ordered to keep four days cooked rations
constantly on hand.
May 4.--Marching orders. The 10th Corps have been all day and all night embarking.
The 115th managed to get a place in the fleet at midnight, after waiting seven
house in the cold.
May 5.--The great fleet composed of five iron clads, twenty gunboats, ninety-two
transports, forty-two schooners, and seventy canal boats and barges, containing
the army of the James, sailed at daylight to Fortress Monroe, thence up the
river to City Point and Bermuda Hundreds, which places were occupied by the
May 6.--We landed at Bermuda Hundreds this morning and lay for a couple of
hours in a wheat field. A rebel Signal Corps was captured. Took up the line
of march at noon. The day was hot, and the soldiers suffered severely. Almost
all of the men threw away their blankets, overcoats, spare shoes and knapsacks,
and the road was completely carpeted with army blankets; while negroes and rebels
drew them away by the load. I saw one man have a wagon box full of new shoes.
At one place the woods were burning, and the regiment was obliged to walk between
two walls of fire. Halted in the evening in a large corn field and camped for
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New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military
March 19, 2006