NEAR PETERSBURG, December 17, 1864.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
president of the Confederate States, Richmond:
Mr. PRESIDENT: Scouts reported yesterday, upon the faith of citizens from City Point, that the First and Third Divisions of the Nineteenth Corps had arrived at that place. On the 14th instant General William H. F. Lee reported that Gregg's division of cavalry had, on the previous evening, marched in that direction, but I have not heard of its having crossed the James River. Scout on the north side, sent expressly to ascertain, state that he has not crossed and that there has been no increase of force on that side. I think it probable, therefore, that Gregg has gone in the vicinity of City Point to be near his depot of forage and to recruit his horses after their late expedition. General Early thinks that the Eighth Corps is on the Railroad. For want of forage and provisions he could not advance, and intended to fall back to Harrisonburg. Grant appears to be concentrating his army here. They are still working on the canal at Dutch Gap, and at present I see no indications of and advance, though if this mild weather continues he will probably make one. The movement of the enemy on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad I fear will interrupt its use again. It had just been repaired. They seem to have gotten behind Breckinridge, but I hope he may be able to intercept them.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
P. S.- Since writing the above one of my best scouts reports that two divisions of the Nineteenth Corps have arrived at City Point, and that Gregg is at City Point. Rodes' division arrived last evening, and is encamped on Swift Greek, Chesterfield.
R. E. L.
WILMINGTON, N. C., December 17, 1864.
His Excellency President DAVIS:
After a conference with General Beauregard I determined, as he had no duty to assign me, to return under the authority of your dispatch and resume the command of this department.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF NORTH CAROLINA, Wilmington, Numbers 12. December 17, 1864.
The command of this military department is resumed.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, December 18, 1864. (Received 3.30.)
Honorable SECRETARY OF WAR:
Dispatch just received through Colonel Gaillard at Weldon, stating enemy's fleet left Old Point 9 an. m. 16th for Wilmington, consisting of Colorado and Wabash, painted white, with Confederate flag, with troops under deck, two double-turreted monitors, one high-turreted monitor,