|DEPARTMENT OF THE
SOUTH.; Evacuation of Pilatka, Fla., Ordered by Gen. Gillmore. Another
Rebel Torpedo in the St. John's River. Destruction of the Steam
Transport Gen. Hunter SAUCINESS OF FORT SUMTER REBUKED. EVACUATION OF
PILATKA. STEAMER DESTROYED BY A TORPEDO. SUMTER ALIVE. REFUSE IRON. TWO
Special Correspondence of the New-York Times. Published April 23, 1864
HILTON HEAD, S.C., Sunday, April 17, 1864
On Thursday last the town of Pilatka, on the St. John's River, which has been occupied for the past few weeks by Col. BARTON'S brigade, was evacu- ated. The troops brought away everything in the shape of military stores. They were not molested in the least by the enemy. A number of families, and quite a large group of contrabands, accompanied the troops on their departure.
On the 15th inst. the steamer General Hunter, while on a passage up the St. John's River, was blown up by a torpedo, at a point twelve miles from Jacksonville, and precisely where the Maple Leaf, a short time ago, was destroyed by similar means. The General Hunter was bound from Jacksonville, to Pilatka, forty miles distant, for the purpose of taking away some stores that had been, conveyed thither from Pilatka previous to the evacuation of the latter place. The Quartermaster of the steamer was killed. All others on board succeeded in reaching Jacksonville safely in small boats. Fortunately the steamer was unladened, and was without
The explosion occurred in the daytime. The General
Hunter was a first-class river boat, and his been in the department a
long while. Only a small portion of her deck remains above water. The
officers will probably save their effects. Now that our troops have
Pilatka, there will be no further occasion for transports to ply up and down the river, consequently we may presume that torpedo disasters in the St. John's River have come to an end. The best thing we can do next is to evacuate Jacksonville.
On the 13th inst., the anniversary of the capture of Fort Sumter by the rebels, thirteen mortar-shells were fired from that dilapidated structure at Forts Gregg and Chatfield. No damage was sustained by us. Fort Gregg opened a lively fire in reply, which had the effect to silence the enemy's mortars.
On Morris Island over one hundred tons of iron, consisting of broken guns, fragments of shells and unexploded shells, have been gathered in a heap at the ordnance depot. The quantity would be greatly augmented, if the projectiles buried in the sand were dug out and added to the heap.
This afternoon HENRY SCHUMACHER, Company C, and HENRY START, Company E, of the Sixth Connecticut Regiment, were publicly shot on grounds without the intrenchments. The victims had escaped from the Provost-Marshal's custody three different times, and each time endeavored to desert to the enemy. They were shot by a detachment of their own regiment. WHIT.
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