St. Augustine March 11th 63
The Mail is reported to leave in the forenoon, so I will write a word to you this evening. I wish I could know you were in good health, I think then I should feel quite contented, I sleep in my quarters tonight the first for ten nights, I am in commnd tomorrow & shall have but little time to write.
We have had quite an excitement this week not much to our credit viz Co. C. in comnd of Lt Lane went on Picket Monday Morning well Sunday morning the Guerilla Capt Dickenson with about 150 Cavalry laid a trap to take the Co that should go on picket, there is a place occupied near the picket line "just beyond," by a man named Biar there was another man stopping by with him Dickenson put then both under close arrest, so they would not carry the news of his whereabouts to the city; early monday morning he dismounted Sixty of his men, & posted them in the woods, between the picket post, & the city; then just beyond the picket line he had forty mounted men ready to charge on them ie the Co, as it marched into the clearing from the road that leads up the Beach [this clearing is the Fairbanks place the buildings have been burnt by our Soldiers] an excellent plan which would have succeeded if he had waited thirty minutes longer but the Co did not arrive till 9 oclock & Dickenson was afraid we had got wind of it & called off his men, now comes the rub I hate to write it but will for your private contemplation.
well Lane went up as usual to the post of reserve left the reserve in charge of Segt Dow & Corp Tilton & tool Segt Chase & 5 men to put on the advance Post, at the crossroads near Biar,s House, he had previously sent a Corpl & four men to another post near the marsh on the right, they went to the cross-roads, & three of the men [there was Segt Chase Clark 1st Miller Gile Kelly & Caulkins], Miller Kelly & Caulkins set their rifles against a tree to take off their Blankets when five shots whistled arround them, Then there was the tallest specimen of Skedadling ever seen in Fla, the three, never stoped to take their muskets, but left them at the tree, & run as though the D--l was after them, Lane was the first to run without saying a word; I am a little too fast the old man Clark did not run, but jumped into the bushes & stuck by, and saw one of the Rebs, he came into the road, fired, wheeled his Horse & left, as the rest probably did. on hearing the firing Tilton formed the reserve pretty lively; by the time this was done Sergt Dow got through with a private affair he was obliged to attend to, & took the commnd put the men on the run, for the scene of action, had got about half way, when Lane jumped out of the Bushes & told them to put back, they had just about faced when he told them to hide in the Bushes then he told them to put again, Dow all the time trying to make him tell what the trouble was, and give some orders, but he appeared to be parilised; lost his sword in the race, & had his shoulder straps ripped off by one of the men & even found fault because his Boots squeaked, now I did not believe this when I first heard it but have been forced to by unimpeachable testimony.
12th I wrote last night till I got chilled through & lay cold all night, the weather has changed very much, to cold & windy, the mail does not leave on acct of Blow. To continue my story, we have burnt over hundreds of acres on the Jacksonville road & Segt Chase run through the burnt bushes, crying run Boys & hide till he looked like a Coal Pedler, Sam, & Shaker was on a post nearby where they could hear all the hubbub, but did not budge a hair, when the Col rode by they were eating hard-tack cool as cucumbers, Lane did not even form the Co, or send back for the Muskets in fact he appeared frightned nearly out of his wits for he had plenty of time to correct his blunders before the Officer of the Day & Col Put got there; the men asked leave to go for their guns, he would not let them, the next day they were put in the Gd House, per order of Put. & I expected Lane & they would be Ct Martialed, but this morning they were released, & the Col is going to let it go, for reasons which I guess at, but dont know for certain. The Col says he shall not trust Lane with the Co again alone & that House must go with it it has worried House so that he is Sick, you will see at once that Lane is in a fix that would be worse than Death to me. Now had you not rather hear that I was killed in honorable fight, than to hear that I had thrown the White Feather, tell me Truly. there is an awfull blow & talk about this all over the Regt & none talk harder than Co C. themselves most every one of them that I see wish that I had been with them; they say if they had only had an officer fit for anything, they would have followed him to the Death & I have confidence they would. there is the need of ones running till they see what they running from. Co. F. went to C,s assistanse but the enemy had left.
Misfortunes never come singly the same day at noon Co,s F. B. & D. in comnd of Lt. Col. Abbott went over the Bridge with orders to look up the Reb,s expecting to be gone 36 hours they took Raitions according, they returned at 2 the same night with a loss of 1 Segt & 4 men taken by the Reb,s & a gain of 3 Prisoners two of which were released yesterday the other is a discharged Rebel Soldier he fired on our men & will be sent to H. Head. this Segt & Men were of Co. D. & were sent as a patrol to a House at some distance, but before arriving run on to a troop of Reb,s & surrendered without firing a gun, or attempting to save themselves by flight, one of the Prisoners says, they surrendered while the Reb,s were 200 yds off, now when these things are heard at home we shall be held in great estimation I reckon, for our valor; well, I hope we may have a chance to show our hands and see if we are all cowards, if so the sooner it is known the better.
now dont tell of this till you hear of it some other way for it is a Killer on Lane & I dont want to be the first one to publish it I think the success of Abbott had something to do with the case of Co. C. these are the "reasons I guess at" House has done everything he can, has begged of the Boys not to write home about it, & done his best with Put for Lane & the men, I will close with my love & best wishes that your health will be restored ere this reached you Yours as ever