[South Carolina Volunteers], now in the Fourth District, and the Eighteenth South Carolina Volunteers, when it arrives from Florida. I beg respectfully to state that I do not want the Eighteenth Regiment to form part of this command. As henceforth it must be expected that the force for the defense of this locality must be small, I respectfully suggest that it should be of good material and of such organization that confidence can be reposed in its officers and men. I do not think that the experience of any troops belonging to that brigade will justify such confidence in a high degree, and as this regiment will necessarily be the principal supporting force on Sullivan's Island, I request that it may be exchanged for the Twenty-fifth or Twenty-seventh South Carolina Volunteers, now on James Island. The importance suggest that my own relative position would claim consideration.
I received a dispatch from Captain Otey last evening directing me to relieve the detachment of 150 from the Twenty-second and twenty-third, now in Fort Sumter, as soon as possible from the Twentieth. I replied by telegraph, stating the difficulties, and I cannot but think that considerations of the state of the command here has not been entertained. Mount Pleasant has only about 40 infantry-many invalids-and there are none on Sullivan's Island. Four companies of the Twentieth [South Carolina Volunteers] are at Battery Marshall, two in the Fourth District, and will not be here for three days; two small companies are at Palmetto Battery, Horlbeck's, Jenning's, and Kinloch's, and the remainder at Branchville. Unless the men were taken from Battery Marshall they could not be got together in any reasonable time.
I do not know whether the enemy will improve his opportunity or not-am inclined to think not, from his present movements; but as generally happens upon a sudden reduction of strength, I fear he will b very apt to find it out.
It was reported last night that 3 men of Captain Warley's company at Battery Marshal were missing. It seems they had been allowed to go to Goat Island, and apparently have dropped along the creek in rear of long Island to Dewees, and most probably have gone to the fleet. If such is the case, the enemy will know the whole matter, and if he is ready may attempt something. In that case the question as to where we shall be weakest would depend on the relative importance of the position. If we lose any of them, it will hardly be speedily recovered.
I repeat, I do not think that the enemy is ready for any movement, but, unless we are prepared, we are continually tempting him, and placing our important positions in jeopardy.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. S. RIPLEY,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF S. CAROLINA, GEORGIA, AND FLORIDA,
Charleston, S. C., April 16, 1864.
The regiments referred to by Brigadier-General Ripley cannot be spared from James Island, where the length of lines and scarcity of troops also require the best of the latter. Order the Eleventh South