Correspondence from R. Saxton to Edwin M. Stanton
April 4, 1863.
Hon. EDWIN M. STANTON
Secretary of War:
SIR: I have the honor to report the return of the First and Second Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers from Florida. The expedition was in every way successful, and had it not been withdrawn would in a short time have cleared the state of Florida of the rebel troops and secured large amounts of cotton and other valuables to the Government. We had complete and undisputed possession of Jacksonville and Palatka, and Colonel Montgomery was moving into the interior when the order of recall from General Hunter was received. This was deemed necessary by him in view of his operations in the vicinity of Charleston.
As might be expected, the moral effect of the presence of these colored soldiers under arms was very great, and caused a perfect panic among the rebels throughout the State.
The colored soldiers behaved bravely in all their various actions with the enemy, and in no case did they display any inferiority in point of courage to other soldiers.
I am glad to report that the hostility which at one time existed among the white troops in this department against the employment of colored troops has passed away, and they are now perfectly willing to go into action with them.
I shall urge upon the commanding officer of this department the importance of reoccupying Florida as soon as the Charleston expedition is over. It may require a somewhat larger force at first to regain that we have abandoned. Should the Charleston expedition be successful such force can be recruited there. With the Saint John's River for a base of operations the entire State can be readily occupied by our forces and restored to the Union. Had the expedition been allowed to remain in Florida I am confident that its success would have fully equaled your expectations.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,