Union Account of St. Augustine Attack March 12, 1863 Edited by Gil Wilson
March 9, 1863 Headquarters, Saint Augustine Fla, March 12, 1863 Report of Col Haldimand S. Putnam, Seventh New Hampshire Infantry.
Col:â€� I have the honor to report that on Monday, the 9th instant, the advanced picket guard, stationed about 2 miles north of the town, was attacked. I had reliable information that the enemy consisted of a company of about 80 horsemen, commanded by a Captain Dickison, and that his camp was at a place called Fort Peyton, 7 miles southwest of this place. I immediately dispatched Lieutenant-Colonel Abbott, 7th New Hampshire Vol, with 120 men, with orders to proceed directly to and attack his camp, and in case he had not returned to it to take the road to the upper ford of the Saint Sebastian, with the expectation of encountering him as he returned to his camp.
It will be seen by the enclosed sketch that the enemy had to make a detour of some 13 miles to reach his camp, from which circumstance I hoped to surprise or intercept him. A mounted vedette gave notice of our approach, and the advance guard only encountered a small number of the rear guard of the enemy, with whom they kept up a scattering but ineffective fire for about a mile, the enemy retreating rapidly, and, being mounted, pursuit was fruitless.
I regret to report that a sergeant and 4 men, who were detached from the main body to reconnoiter the ground to the right before the situation of the enemy was discovered, were captured. Aside from this unfortunate occurrence which is mainly owning to the densely wooded nature of the country. I believe that Lieutenant-Colonel Abbott and the officers and men under him displayed good conduct and judgment.
For details I have the honor to refer you to the report of Lieutenant-Colonel Abbott, which is enclosed.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant H. S. Putnam, Col 7th New Hampshire Vol, Comdg. Post Lieut. Col. Charles G. Halpine, Assistant Adjutant-General, 10th Army Corps.
No. 2. Report of Lient. Cot. Joseph C. Abbott, Seventh New Hampshire Infantry. SAINT AUGUSTINE, FLA., March 10, 1863. SIR: In pursuance of your orders, dated the 9th instant, directing me to proceed with a detachment of 120 men to Fort Peyton and the place of Bartols Masters and capture, if possible, a party of the enemy in that vicinity, and also directing me how to proceed in case the party had left or in case they appeared to be between the Saint Sebastian and North Rivers, I crossed the Saint Sebastian at the bridge opposite Saint Augustine at about 1.30 p. rn. yesterday with detachments of Companies B, D, and F, making in all about 120 men, and proceeded at once along the Palatka road toward Fort Peyton, the road running in a southwesterly direction up the left bank of the Matauzas River and from 2 to 3 miles distant from it. When within about 3 miles of Fort Peyton (Bartols Masters Place) 2 horsemen were seen in the road and were challenged by our advance guard, but refused to halt and were beyond the range of their rifles. A little more than a mile north of Fort Peyton I sent a sergeant and 4 men to reconnoiter about a house plainly observable through the pine woods on the right and apparently not much more than a quarter of a mile distant, with instructions to report immediately. This honse, I afterward learned, was occupied by a man named Carrero. About half a mile north of Fort Peyton the advanced guard caine upon the enemy's pickets and fired npon them. Upon bearing the firing I ordered Lieutenant Taylor, of Company B, to advance with 10 men as skirmishers, which was promptly done, while the remainder of the detachment continued to advance. Coming upon a small creek, crossed by a bridge, a few rods beyond where the firing commenced, the skirmishers crossed and deployed on the other side. The skirmishers, in the mean time, were concealed from the main body by a thick growth of trees and bushes. Crossing the bridge at double-quick with the main detachment, as- cending a slight elevation and forming in line, I discovered that the firing was between our skirmishers and those of the enemy a little to the left and in advance of our front. I then ordered Captain Mason, of Company B, to advance in the direction of the firing, while I, with Companies F and bore to the right upon Masters house, thinking the main body of the enemy either in or around it. Upon halting at the house we found no one there excepting John Mauncy and Bartols Masters, with their families, none of whom would give any information respecting the main body of the enemy, but told me that 2 wagons belonging to them had left on the Palatka road, about half an hour before rapidly. The skirmishers of the enemy having now disappeared I recalled Company B and recrossed the creek, intending to go up the Saint Sebastian in pursuit of the main body. In the mean time the men whom I had sent toward Carreros house had not reported, and on arriving opposite the house I sent a corporal and 5 men to ascertain the reason. They returned, bringing with them Carrero himself who stated that the first party had been intercepted by Dickisons (rebel) horsemen, numbering about 80 men, and had been captured. From his statement it appeared evident that the main body of the enemy had seen us as we passed toward Fort Peyton, heard the firing, and retreated hastily toward Palatka. Deeming farther pursuit useless, I returned to a point near the Saint Sebastian bridge, and according to orders reported to you, and pursuant to subsequent orders recrossed into the town.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, JOSEPH C. ABBOTT, Lieutenant-Colonel & Seventh New Hampshire Volunteers. Col. H. S. PUTNAM, Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers.
Col Haldimand S. Putnam Seventh New Hampshire Infantry University of Miami
Lieutenant-Colonel Abbott 7th New Hampshire University of Miami