Return to Dr. Bronson's St. Augustine History
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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