HEADQUARTERS FIRST MILITARY DISTRICT,
Mount Pleasant, January 3, 1864.
Brigadier General THOMAS JORDAN,
Chief of Staff and Assistant Adjutant-General:
GENERAL: I had the honor to send you a telegram last night from Sullivan's Island, informing you of the approach of the enemy's barges toward Dewees Inlet. This morning a report from Battery Marshall informs me a steamer yesterday went north, with four or five barges in tow, from the blockade fleet, leaving the barges near the extremity of Long Island and opposite. The steamer returned to the fleet, and three vessels from the north joined it. Captain Duffus' pickets, from Dewees Inlet, report that four barges late in the evening passed and entered Capers' Inlet; others might have passed in the night. The outposts in that direction will be directed to be on the alert and report. What the enemy's intention may be is of course conjectural.
The signal men at Battery Marshall report from fifteen to twenty barges as having gone north.
A foraging party would probably have gone into, Bull's Bay with one steamer and boats, and it appears quite likely that the movement may be a reconnaissance to examine the inland waters with a view of operating in that direction against Sullivan's Island and the main. Bull's Bay gives an entrance and tolerable harbor. Capers' and Dewees Inlets are both better than Light House Inlet, and the inner channel from Bull's to the Narrows opposite Long Island would admit almost any vessel of the class entering the Stono they chose to bring. Mean time the works at Battery Marshall are not complete, or near it. All the works on the main are in bad condition, and the causeway for intercommunication, independent of the bridge, not finished. The firing upon the bridge heretofore reported has not been repeated.
As for the tearing down of the houses on Sullivan's Island, reported by some person unknown, I can only say that the bridge is not unmasked toward Morris Island, nor can any portion of it be seen except from Cumming's Point. It has always been visible from that point. Meanwhile the fire did not come from thence. The destruction of the houses on Sullivan's Island, except by order, has been positively forbidden weeks since.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. S. RIPLEY,
CAMP FRIPP, JOHN'S ISLAND, January 3, 1864.
Captain JAMES H. PEARCE, Assistant Adjutant-General:
CAPTAIN: On my arrival here this morning from Church Flats (where I passed the night on my return from Adams' Run), I ascertained that a mulatto fellow, representing himself to be the cook of General Gillmore, had been captured on this island yesterday afternoon, near Dr. Curtis' place, through the fidelity of a slave, the property of Joseph Eding, a private of the Rebel Troop. The prisoner, W. H. Ploughden by name, gives the following account of himself and his capture: On last Thursday morning, early in the day, he left Folly Island (the general being engaged to dine on board of the gun-boat Pawnee), and proceeded with two others in a small boat up