MAY 22, 1864-8.30 p. m.
This p. m. the telegraphic communication was interrupted between here and your headquarters. Men have been sent mend the wires. I have your order to abandon this place and go to Port Royal. Am I to draw in all guards of Aquia railroad, telegraph, and road to Fredericksburg? What disposition am I to make of six batteries of Reserve Artillery from Army of the Potomac encamped here? I will send everything off as fast as possible, and will leave here as soon as the rebel prisoners are shipped. Is it intended by your order the garrison of Belle Plain should march by way of Fredericksburg, or direct from here to Port Royal? There are there engines and sixty cars now on the Aquia and Fredericksburg Railroad. One hundred and fifty bales of straw are here that can be used in the sixty cars for wounded.
J. J. ABERCROMBIE,
Belle Plain, May 22, 1864-8.30 p. m.
(Received 10.55 p. m.)
I have been ordered by General Grant to abandon this place for Port Royal, sending loaded barges there, and loading teams to Bowling Green.
J. J. ABERCROMBIE,
HEADQUARTERS ENGINEER BRIGADE,
Camp at Belle Plain, May 22, 1864.
DEAR GENERAL: I have not received any orders yet about my brigades which are here to the extent of over 1,000 feet, and which I shall left for towing at once, as soon as you can dispense with them as wharves, for my previous orders I suppose they will wish me to take them Washington, as I have already two brigades over the Rappahannock which can be toward down to Port Royal. If you received your orders from General Grant I suppose his adjutant-general was not exactly aware of my situation here. Had they come from General Meade (if he can give then to you) I think he would have sent me instructions at the same time. I fear I shall have to send an already to the front to get proper orders as to what they wish me to do. I had halted my 400 men, 2 1\2 miles out, to repair the swampy place there, but I have now sent to recall them. If you have any suggestions to make different front what I here propose, I shell be very happy to receive. I shall have to ask your authority, I presume, to secure me a steamer for my men, some 600 to 700, with some 210 animals, and two tugs for my pontoon rafts and barges. I most feel sure they will not wish the brigades and trains I have here sent around to Port Royal. I have not the trucks here to carry them overland, even if they wished it
Very truly, yours,
H. W. BENHAM,