iamsburg, at 3.30 p. m. to-day and reached this place about 5 p. m. Before I moved, Surgeon Wager, the enemy's surgeon at the lunatic asylum, sent through Major Garrett a letter addressed to him by acting Brigadier-General West, his commander at Fort Magruder, to withdraw from that institution and surrender it to the commander of the Confederate forces in and around Williamsburg. I ordered Major Garrett to make no reply to this notice; but I had anticipated some such ruse, and yesterday had arranged with Talbot Sweeny, esq., the only State of Virginia officer left with the asylum, to attend to and provide for its wants. I will also send to it Dr. Martin, a resident practicing physician of this county, to superintend its hygeia. It is pretty certain, too, the enemy have drawn in their lines, and the report is that they have informed the inhabitants that they consider the town itself surrendered. For two days they have made no demonstration and have not disturbed my forces in gathering all the plunder we could find and in moving out the inhabitants and their effects. It is worthy of attention, too, that while exchanging these communications under the flag of truce their officers changing these communications under the flag of truce their officers were emphatic and even urgent in persuading my officers that Fort Magruder is impregnable to any force short of 20,000 men. In other words, they are very desirous to get rid of our presence in their front. Another evidence of this is that they ran gunboats up both James and York Rivers yesterday and to-day. Indeed, this evening after we began to move two gunboats ran up York River as high as Mount Folly and shelled to shore. This was evidently intended to hurry our departure. I have therefore not moved back my cavalry pickets and main force of cavalry at all, but have halted here with my artillery and infantry to get more forage and to render further assistance to the citizens. I have placed a strong infantry guard on my right at Centreville, the Fifty-ninth between this and Centreville, the Twenty-sixth and Fourth here with the artillery, and a strong infantry guard at Deneufville's Store, on the York River road, thus covering every road with strong flankers right and left.
The day after to-morrow morning I will fall back farther and retire a portion of the command quite to Diascund, moving my cavalry farther back to supporting distance, and completing my return to Diascund by Sabbath at noon. I am thus obeying your instructions to fall back slowly, and particularly in order that you may modify your instructions according to your better judgment. We have but few sick men. They stand the service admirably and behave well in all respects.
I am, general, very truly, your obedient servant,
HENRY A. WISE,
HEADQUARTERS FRENCH'S COMMAND, Numbers 2.
April 16, (or 17), 1863.
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III. The following artillery companies are assigned to duty in General Pickett's division, and will report to Major James Dearing, chief of artillery: Macon's battery, Stribling's battery, Blount's battery, Caskie's battery. The artillery companies on duty with the division will draw rations and forage from their divisions respectively.
IV. The following artillery companies are assigned to duty with General Hood's division, and will report to Major Henry, chief of artillery: Lane's battery, Bachman's battery, Garden's battery. The artillery