Evacuation of Forts McRae and Barrancas – The People of Florida Coming to their Senses – A Loyal State Government to be Organized.
NEW YORK, March 30. – The Steamer Empire City, from Port Royal, has arrived. The following is from the New South newspaper of the 22d:
Gen. Sherman visited Jacksonville on the 19th and was waited on by a committee of citizens, who represented that all in town were Unionists. The rebels, when they left, threatened to hang all who remained.
Guerrilla bands were destroying the property of all suspected Unionists, by the orders of the rebel General Trapier.
The sentiment of eastern Florida is declared to by loyal. Rebel deserters are numerous. – Many ware willing to take up arms against the rebel tyranny. Our troops were treated hospitably.
The gunboat Ottowa [sic] has been 120 miles up St. Johns river, beyond Jacksonville, meeting with no opposition. White flags were displayed and the inhabitants claimed protection.
The steamer St. Mary and the yacht America were found sunk, but we are raising them.
Pensacola has been evacuated, including Forts Barrancas and McRae. The troops raised in Florida were ordered off by refused to go.
Gen. Sherman issued a proclamation to the people of East Florida, saying he came to protect loyal citizens and enable them to resuscitate a State government. The sole desire of the Government is to maintain the integrity of the Constitution and laws, and reclaim the revolted States to their allegiance.
At a meeting of loyal citizens of Jacksonville, on the 20th, it was declared that no State has the constitutional right to separate from the United States, and that the act of secession by Florida is void and in conflict with the Constitution, never having been submitted to the people for ratification, and they protested against all acts of the Convention depriving them of their rights as citizens of the United States; the despotism which denied them freedom of speech and the press, and forced contributions of money, labor and enlistments. They recommended a convention to be called forthwith, to organize a State government, and the United States government be requested to keep a sufficient military force to keep order and protect persons and property.
– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 5, 1862, p. 4