|December 30, 1863 Skirmish
Near St. Augustine, Florida
|December 30, 1863----Skirmish near Saint Augustine, Fla.
(War of the Rebellion)
Report of Col. Francis A. Osborn, Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry
Headquarters U. S. Forces,
Saint Augustine, Fla., January 1, 1864
General: I have the honor to report the particulars of a skirmish which took place at this post, under the
During the past month it has been necessary to send the woodchoppers about 2 miles outside the
lines to procure fire-wood, the supply within the lines having become exhausted. At first, having learned
from my scouts that there were no rebel forces east of the Saint John's River, I furnished them with a
guard of only 10 men. About three weeks ago, however, I heard rumors that some cavalry were
expected to cross the river very soon for conscripts and deserters, and I according increased the
guard to 30 men, requiring the 20 choppers to carry arms also, making 50 armed men, which, after
careful consideration I deemed an ample force. I constantly sent out scouts to ascertain whether the
enemy had crossed the river, intending, if he should come in this neighborhood, to go out and attack
him. On Wednesday morning (30th ultimo), one of the scouts came in and reported to me that he could
find no indications of any cavalry in the vicinity. On that very morning, however, the guard, which was
moving cautiously out to its position, with an advance thrown out, was suddenly attacked by a party on
their right and front, who had been lying concealed in the low palmetto shrubs with which the whole
country is covered, and which furnishes such perfect concealment that a man might pass within 20 feet
of such a party and never suspect its presence. The guard halted, faced toward the enemy, and
prepared to return the fire, when they received another volley from a corresponding position on the left
of the line of march. This, unfortunately, dangerously wounded Lieut. Oliver H. Walker, Twenty-fourth
Massachusetts Volunteers, who was in charge of the party, which threw them into some confusion. At
this moment a body of cavalry was seen on each flank, riding rapidly to get into their rear. This
increased the disorder caused by the loss of their officer, and they commenced falling back. In doing
this, having about 2 miles to go before they reached the outposts, and being closely pursued by the
cavalry, they became somewhat scattered, and lost 24 men taken prisoners. News of this affair having
been brought to me on brigade drill, in less than an hour after I received the report of the scout
mentioned above, I immediately went out with the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers, but the
enemy had gone. As they had two hours the start of me, I did not pursue them. If I had had a company
of cavalry, I am confident I could have overtaken them, and not only have rescued my own men, but
also have captured some besides, for from their trail they were mounted on small horses.
I deeply regret to report such an unsatisfactory result of this affair, but I impute it all to the unfortunate
circumstances of Lieutenant Walker's being wounded. Had he remained unhurt, I am confident that he
would have beaten the enemy off, for he is a brave and skillful officer, and had his men well in hand
when he fell. I am grieved to say that his wound is considered a very serious one by the surgeon in
The loss of the enemy is not known, as they carried off all their dead and wounded. I append a list of
casualties in my command.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant.,
F. A. Osborn,
Colonel Twenty-fourth Mass. Vols., Comdg. Post.
Brig. Gen. J. W. Turner,
Chief of Staff, Department of the South.
Report of Capt. J. J. Dickison, Second Florida Cavalry.
Extract from Journal of Operations in Charleston Harbor, S. C.
On the 29th instant, crossed on east side of the Saint John's River, with detachments from Companies
C and H, Second Florida Cavalry, consisting of 68 privates, 1 sergeant, 1 corporal, and 2 lieutenants,
and marched to vicinity of Saint Augustine. Arriving at Fort Peaton same night, he posted pickets at all
the roads leading to the city.
At 3 o'clock next morning marched for Hurlbut's place, crossing above the bridge, and placed his men
from 300 to 400 yards from the bridge on the road leading to the Fairbanks.
About 9 the enemy made their appearance, and their advance guard had passed part of our force,
when they discovered our horses placed in the rear under cover of a swamp. Captain Dickison
demanded a surrender, to which they replied by firing into Company H, which then charged. Company
C now opened fire upon the main force of the enemy, who, after firing one or two rounds, retreated.
Our men mounted, and charged most gallantly, capturing 24 prisoners and wounding 6--3 mortally, left
on the field. One of the wounded was a lieutenant, who was paroled on the field. The others could not
be found, having concealed themselves in the thick scrub of the hillocks. Some of the men were
captured inside of the enemy's lines. Captain Dickison also secured 21 Springfield and Enfield rifles,
21 cartridge-boxes and accouterments, containing 30 rounds each, and 1 sword.
Lieutenant W. H. McCardell, Lieutenant Samuel C. Reddick, and men are reported to have acted most
gallantly. The strength of the enemy in the engagement (as reported by the wounded lieutenant) was
60 men. They had four wagons in the rear for hauling wood which they had cut, but they were so far
behind that they made good their escape.
General Orders, No. 1.
Hdqrs. District of East Florida, Lake city, January 7, 1864
I. The brigadier-general commanding has again the pleasure of calling the attention of the troops in
this district to another brilliant exploit of Capt. J. J. Dickison, with Lieutenants McCardell and Reddick,
and detachments of Companies C and H, of the Second Regiment of Florida Cavalry. This little force,
on the morning of the 30th ultimo, made an attack on a superior force of the enemy, and even within
the limits of their own lines not only defeated them, but captured 24, and killed and wounded 6,
including their commanding officer, and secured all their arms and accouterments, and without any
casualties to our own men.
Were this the first of these achievements, their success might be attributed, by those ignorant of these
gallant men, to chance or circumstances, but time and again have these men been the subject of
praise from their district commander, and their many acts of heroism evince how easy it is for willing
and resolute men to annoy and injure our enemy.
II. For his gallantry on the occasion, the sword captured in the fight will be presented to Sergeant J. S.
Poer, of Captain Dickison's company, and with it he will receive the thanks of the whole people of the
district, for there are none, however craven, who do not love to honor brave men.
By order of Brigadier-General Finegan, commanding:
R. B. Thomas
Colonel, and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General
The following list of killed and captured is from the Hartford Daily Courant 1/20/1864 Page 2
Co L - William C Burus
Co A - John F. Sheppard, Geo H Seward
Co B - Corp. Edward H. Risloy, privates Stanford D. Parker, Thaddeus W. Post
Co C - John Hollister
Co. D - James Reid, Douglas Owen
Co E - Thomas Bryan, Wm. Davis
Co F - Alexander Bruto, Morril B. Chesley, Henry F. Champlin
Co G - James A Whaley, Wm. A Wood
Co H - Andrew Johnson, Wm. H. Johnson, John C Labor
Co. I - Wm S. Chamberlain, Jas. H. Burns
Co. K - George Barton
|Col. Francis A. Osborn
|Brig General John W. Turner
|Capt J. J. Dickison
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