Englishman by birth, and is thoroughly disgusted with the Southern army. Having been with them but two months, he can give no important information. It is understood in camp that General Grant had issued an order that all women and children should leave Petersburg; that the town was nearly deserted. A shell exploded the gas works a few days since, and made a complete wreck of the establishment and surrounding buildings. No one was injured. He reports his brigade about 1,200 for duty. Their division occupies the extreme right of the line, with Kirkland's brigade in reserve. He can give no information of General Early's force.
JOHN C. BABCOCK.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, July 8, 1864.
Major General A. A. HUMPHREYS,
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: I would respectfully report a new work of small size about 100 yards in rear of Gregory's house. The rifle-pit reported yesterday begins at the above work and extends about eighty rods to our left, and several hundred yards in rear of enemy's front line. They are still extending it. A locomotive, tender, and six platform-cars passed southward this morning, upon the Weldon railroad, loaded with materials, as of timber, ties, or rails. There were also many men on the train.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. F. FISHER,
Captain and Chief Signal Officer.
PLANK ROAD STATION, July 8, 1864-7 p. m.
Captain B. F. FISHER:
At 4.30 p. m. a small detachment of infantry, a squadron of cavalry, and a battery of five pieces passed to our left on road near Weldon railroad. At same time sharp artillery practice began on both sides. The enemy opened from two batteries, one immediately in front of station, the other east of plank road near Gregory's house.
J. B. DUFF,
Lieutenant and Signal Officer.
JULY 8, 1864-5 p. m.
Captain B. F. FISHER,
Chief Signal Officer, Headquarters Army of the Potomac:
Rebel signal station at Archer's still reports to Colonel Brent, assistant adjutant-general, but nothing worthy of report intercepted to-day. No observations to-night.
Lieutenant and Acting Signal Officer.