This is Gooding’s 19th letter to the Mercury:

Mercury, July 8, 1863 [OAF]

St. Helena Island, S.C., June 29

Messrs. Editors:

—Instead of going on another expedition, as we all expected and hoped, we find ourselves at the headquarters of the department, and great changes made in commanders; in fact, the changes had been made at least two weeks before we knew anything of them. It is probable that the change of commander has made some change in the operations in this department, for this summer at least. But from appearances there must be something definite in contemplation, from the fact that all the surplus troops are being concentrated on this island ready for a movement at the shortest notice; either to act on the offensive, at some weak point — as the force here is not large enough to make any grand movement — or to be transported wherever the urgency of the case may require out of this department; but it is safe to say the latter conjecture is the most probable one.

Yesterday there was a terrific thunder storm here. A man in the 76th Pa. regiment was killed by lightening, and 15 more were stunned at the same time, besides exploding 80 boxes of cartridges.

A sergeant in the 1st regiment S. C. Volunteers has been sentenced to be hung for mutiny, or inciting some of the men to mutinous conduct.

The rebel ram Atlanta, taken off the Savannah river, has been pronounced unseaworthy by the Naval Guard. It was the intention of the rebels to play hob with the Yankees. The plan was first, to pay a compliment to Col. Montgomery, then on St. Simon’s Island, and hang his whole force, then come up and clear out Port Royal harbour, raise the blockade at Charleston, and I don’t know but they would have gone on capturing till they reached Boston, according to their story. Probably that was one of the plans to assist in raising their volunteer navy. They have another ram underway at Savannah, but she will not be completed for some time.

J. H. G.