last evening to take position near the Little Ogeechee to observe the enemy in his threatened advance from that quarter, with private instructions to watch the garrison at Rose Dew Island.
These dispositions were made and the suspected troops watched. No movement was attempted by them during the night.
By order of General Mercer a board of officers is now engaged in a rigid investigation of the whole matter, and as soon as the facts are known the guilty men will be arrested and placed in close confinement for trial and punishment. This spirit of discontent has ripened into an intent to desert under the influence of idleness, a want of active service for officers and men, and I am satisfied it will be best to exchange some of the troops here for others, sending the disaffected to Charleston or some other point where they will be in the presence of the enemy.
The companies at Rose Dew are Company F (Captain J. W. Anderson), Company I (Captain Elkins), Fifty-fourth Georgia Regiment, and Jackson Guards (Captain Tanner), who claims to belong to the Fourth Florida Battalion, but is considered here as commanding an independent company. There are two other companies of the Fifty-fourth Georgia Regiment here, commanded by Captains Russell and Brantley; the latter is with the siege train.
As a change of duty may be the means of improving the tone of these disaffected troops, I propose to order the four companies of Colonel Way's regiment, Fifty-fourth Georgia, and the Jackson Guards, Captain Tanner, to the Third Military District of South Carolina, and replace them here by the Twelfth Georgia Battalion, Major Hanvey.
The Fifty-seventh Georgia Regiment should be sent on duty in presence of the enemy, say at Charleston or some other point, and another regiment sent here to replace it. The men of this regiment complain, as stated by Brigadier-General Colston, that they were not properly exchanged after their capture at Vicksburg. Will the commanding general take these troops to Charleston and send a good regiment to replace them here? If this cannot be done, perhaps an exchange might be arranged so as to bring a regiment from the Army of Tennessee or from Virginia.
The inclosed report from Brigadier-General Colston gives a clear statement of what has transpired up to this hour, and I concur fully in the recommendations therein made. Prompt action will probably be the means of avoiding future trouble, and add to the general efficiency of our available strength.
The individuals found guilty of exciting their companions in arms to discontent and desertion should be promptly punished.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. F. GILMER,
Major-General and Second in Command.
HEADQUARTERS COLSTON'S BRIGADE,
January 14, 1864.
Captain G. A. MERCER,
SIR: On Tuesday, 12th instant, a communication was received from Captain Hanleiter, commanding Beaulieu Battery, to the effect that a non-commissioned officer had informed him of the existence of a