Surrender of St. Augustine, FL Commander Rodgers' Report United States Flag-Ship Wabash, Off St. Augustine, March 12, 1862
SIR: Having crossed the bar with some difficulty, in obedience to your orders, I approached St. Augustine under a flag of truce, and as I drew near the city a white flag was hoisted upon one of the bastions of Fort Marion.
Landing at the wharf and enquiring for the chief authority, I was soon joined by the Mayor and conducted to the City Hall, where the municipal authorities were assembled. I informed them that having come to restore the authority of the United States, you had deemed it more kind to send an unarmed boat to inform the citizens of your determination, than to occupy the town at once by force of our arms; that you were desirous to calm any apprehension of harsh treatment that might exist in their minds; and that you should carefully respect the persons and property of all citizens who submitted to the authority of the United States; that you had a single purpose to restore the state of affairs which existed before the rebellion. I informed the municipal authority that so long as they respected the authority of the Government we serve, and acted in good faith, municipal affairs might be left in their hands, so far as might be consistent with the exigencies of the times.
The Mayor and Council then informed me that the place had been evacuated the preceding night by two companies of Florida troops, and that they gladly received the assurance I gave them, and placed the city in my hands. I recommended them to hoist the flag of the Union at once, and in prompt accordance with the advice, by order of the Mayor, the national ensign was displayed from the flag-staff of the Fort.
The Mayor proposed to turn over to me the five cannon mounted at the Fort, which are in good condition and not spiked, and also the few munitions of war left by the retreating enemy.
I desired him to take charge of them for the present, to make careful inventories, and establish a patrol and guard, informing him that he would be held responsible for the place until our force should enter the harbor.
I called upon the clergymen of the city, requesting them to reassure their people, and to confide in our kind intentions toward them.
About fifteen hundred persons remain in St. Augustine, about one fifth of the inhabitants having fled. I believe that there are many citizens who are earnestly attached to the Union, a large number who are silently opposed to it, and a still larger number who care very little about the matter. I think that nearly all the men acquiesce in the condition of affairs we are now establishing. There is much violent and pestilent feeling among the women. They seem to mistake treason for courage, and have a theatrical desire to figure as heroines. Their minds have doubtless been filled with the falsehoods so industriously circulated in regard to the lust and hatred of our troops. On the night before our arrival, a party of women assembled in front of the barracks and cut down the flag-staff, in order that it might not be used to support the old flag. The men seemed anxious to conciliate us in every way.
There is a great scarcity of provisions in the place; there seems to be no money, except the wretched paper currency of the rebellion, and much poverty exists.
In the water-battery at the Fort, are three fine army thirty-two-pounders of seven thousand pounds, and two eight-inch sea-coast howitzers of fifty-six hundred pounds, with shot and some powder. There are a number of very old guns in the Fort, useless and not mounted. Several good guns were taken away some months ago, to arm batteries at other harbors.
The garrison of the place went from St. Augustine, at midnight on the tenth, for Smyrna, where are said to be about eight hundred troops, a battery, the steamer Carolina, and a considerable quantity of arms and ammunition.
It is very positively stated that the Governor has ordered the abandonment of East-Florida, and proposes to make a stand near Apalachicola.
Mr. Dennis, of the Coast Survey, who accompanied me, rendered me much valuable aid.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, C. R. P. Rodgers,
Commander. Flag-Officer S. F. Du Pont, Commanding South-Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
The Surrender of St. Augustine to the Federals. (Wilmington journal. Wilmington, N.C., April 03, 1862) We conversed with a gentleman yesterday who passed the Federal pickets at St Augustine, going in and coming out, unobserved. He gives us the following information:
The Yankees, leaving their gunboat outside the bar, approached the city is a barge, about 40 in number, with a flag of truce and American ensign flying. The surrender of the city and the keys of the fort were demanded, with the notice that in the event of refusal the vessels outside would proceed to shell them. The City Council was immediately convened, and, after deliberation, the keys were delivered to the Federal officer in command of the barge.
The collector of the port, Mr. P. Arnou, was arrested and kept on board the Wabash, four days, when, giving up the Custom House books and papers, and enclosing where the apparatus of the St. Augustine lighthouse and the Cape Canaveral were concealed, he was released.
John Capo, a pilot of St. Augustine, was pressed into the Federal service, on information given them of his vocation and whereabouts, by the traitors, who seem to be by no means few in the Ancient City. He was used to bring in one of their gunboat, which now lies in the stream opposite the city. She mounts two guns on each side and a pivot gun making five in all.
No country resident is allowed to leave the city to return to his place without a pass, which was granted upon his taking an oath that should he leave his place, he will take up St. Augustine as his home ; and no citizen is allowed to leave without swearing that he will return.
On Monday last the Catholic Priest and the Episcopal Minister were notified that unless they desisted from praying for Jeff. Davis and the Southern Confederacy, they should be sent to Fort LaFayette.
Some of the ladies who appeared on the streets wore miniature Confederate flags in their bosoms. One of them confronted a Federal officer, telling him that though there were no men left in the town who had the spirit or manliness to defy them, there were women who would.
The Federals appeared to know all the movements of our people about St. A. previous to their arrival. And with the information given by traitors, they knew of the two companies having left that place but a short time before for New Smyrna, also where a small schooner that had run the blockade was concealed and where the sails could be found.
The Yankees are in full possession of the St. John's river, their gunboats having gone up as far as Palatka. The steamer Darlington is used by them as a transport. There were about 2 500 Federals at Jacksonville. They are tearing up the Jacksonville Railroad, and are using the iron rail in the erection of defenses of the town against attack. Savannah Republican, 26th. inst.