|Col. Bell declares
Martial Law in St. Augustine
April 15, 1862
War of the Rebellion Records
|SAINT AUGUSTINE, FLA., April 15, 1862.
Brig. Gen. H. W. BENHAM
Comdg. Northern District, Department of the South:
I have the honor to report that (finding a constant communication was kept up between the
inhabitants of this city and the enemy and that the members of the city government would not assist
me in preventing it) I placed the city under martial law on the 12th instant. The day after a
re-enforcement of four companies of my regiment arrived. I should have replaced the city officials in
power had not the feeling among the citizens been that they desired martial law to still remain. I am
pleased to be able to report that no ill-feeling or difficulty has arisen between the citizens and the
men of my command, and that not an instance of any insult or unpleasant feeling has taken place. I
have prohibited any person passing the line of my command without taking the oath of allegiance.
Fort Marion has now mounted two 8-inch sea-coast howitzers, one 32-pounder gun, four iron
6-pounder guns, one 1)brass 6-pounder gun, one 24-pounder siege howitzer, and a Wiard rifled
gun. Lieutenant Tardy, U. S. Corps Engineers, has arrived at this post and taken charge of putting
the fort in a state of defense. Lieutenant Tardy intends to mount two 8-inch columbiads on the fort.
With the ordinance stores I have drawn a requisition for I can defend the post against all the enemy
now in arms in Florida. I have the honor to request instructions as to slaves belonging to disloyal
men. I have retained such slaves, furnishing them with food and compelling them to work, and
simply excluding other slaves from the fort. This city is in a most lamentable condition with respect to
food. I have been compelled to issue Government provisions to families to prevent them from
perishing from hunger. I have the honor to request instructions as to whether such issues will be
permitted. Five deserters from the enemy have come in; no information of any importance has been
got from them, except that one of the Saint Augustine companies wished to lay down their arms and
surrender. I have used every effort to inform them that they might return here and remain
unmolested. I take the liberty of suggesting again that the ordnance stores I have. drawn a
requisition for are very necessary for the defense of my post.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
LOUIS BELL, Lieut. Cot., Comdg. Fourth New Hampshire Volunteers,
Commanding Post of Saint Augustine.
|Col Louis Bell
St. Augustine Commander
4th New Hampshire Volunteers
University of New Hampshire
|Brig. Gen. Henry W. Benham
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