What I meant, of course, was to move by our left and turn the enemy's right. I make this privately to you, that if I did make such an error in expression I may be rightly understood. I did not understand the question to arise upon abandoning this line of operations yesterday. I have always thought the James River route the most practicable one for Richmond, but this army in front, I suppose, is what we are after. My wounded in hospital have got up to about 900. We shall never get our stragglers in shape again until we get our troops out of the city and in open fields. I mention these matters privately, as I would if I saw you in person, knowing that you are at all times glad to hear from any of your officers. This morning's fog will probably conceal any movement we may make, if made under its cover.
Yours, most sincerely and respectfully,
CIRCULAR,] HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
Fredericksburg, Va., December 15, 1862-11 a.m.
In compliance with inclosed circular from major-general commanding the forces, this corps will be assigned as follows: General Sykes' division the left of the line, from Hanover street to the westward toward the river, his left connecting with General Couch's right at Hanover street, and his right extending to the right of the cemetery, Amelia street; General Humphreys, from the right of the cemetery, Amelia street, to Fauquier street; General Griffin's, from Fauquier street to the junction of the canal and Fall Hill road, and General Whipple's, from General Griffin's right to the river.
The different division commanders will examine the roads and localities, and arrange for perfect and strong connection with their right and left. General Whipple will watch particularly the Fall Hill road and defend it.
The picket lines that are now established will be maintained in a manner to comply with the instructions contained in the circular of the major-general commanding. The reserves and supports will be confined to the respective districts assigned to each command for defenses.
All commanders will comply with the instructions in regard to absentees and patrols, and having every officer at his post.
The districts assigned to division commanders will be wounded by the picket line in front, the river in the rear, and the streets on which their right or left rests. The streets within their districts will be kept open for the passage of artillery trains, ambulances, or mounted men as may be required.
Division commanders will be responsible for the order and condition of the town, and prevention of straggling in their respective districts. All houses will be searched for stragglers, and they will be turned over to the provost guard marshal of the corps, or to their division provost, as may be most convenient.
The corps provost will be stationed at the left of the bridge heads, near Houke street. He will prevent all passage across the bridge, or obstruction across them, except under proper authority. Captain Weed will direct the position of the artillery of the corps. The changes of positions and reliefs will commence immediately after dark, unless sooner ordered.