HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, OFFICE OF THE PROVOST-MARSHAL-GENERAL,
City Point, September 7, 1864.
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: Our agent succeeded in getting through from Richmond last night, bringing three refugees with him. Unusual precautions have been taken within a few days, for some reason not explained, in preventing the passage of persons within and without the lines, and our agent was obliged to take two nights to make the trip, having left Richmond on Monday evening. If Kershaw's division or any other troops from Early have arrived at Petersburg it is not known that they have passed through Richmond. One of the men brought through was an agent for an express company, and was accustomed to go every day to the Petersburg depot. His own attention not being directed to the fact, he did not make particular inquiries, but he heard nothing indicating that any troops have within the last week or ten days, or at any time lately, been sent from Richmond by the Petersburg road. There are very conflicting rumors in Richmond with regard to Early, and people think that Government is sending out report in order to conceal his real movements. The rumor heretofore reported that troops had been sent to re-enforce Hood is still current in Richmond, although it is known or believed that none have gone from General Lee's army. Our agent was entirely unable to learn, after making inquiry from different sources, what Early's present position was, or whether any portion of his troops has been sent to Hood; but, as before stated, he was unable to learn that any troops have passed through Richmond lately. If they have done so it must have been at night, and with such secrecy as to avoid all comment upon it whatever. Owing to the fact that the fall of Atlanta was not made public, and to the reticence with regard to Early, the public mind in Richmond is in a very unquiet state.
It was the common ask last Monday morning about the streets that General Lee had telegraphed for 12,000 men to be sent down to him, and the different battalions in the city expected to be ordered out. What is certain about it is that on monday morning the Fire Brigade, which is composed of detailed, men, was ordered out and directed to pick up all men whom they might find in and about the city. These were again subjected to an examination of their papers, and were hurried off to Petersburg. The physical examination is so slight that it was reported one blind man had been forwarded with the others. The better opinion seems to be that the recent movements on the north side of the james and the occupation of various points by our troops are again intended to mislead the enemy, and that General Grant is, in fact, intending to stretch out his lines and seize the South Side Railroad, and General Lee is understood to be making every effort to extend his lines so as to cover it. As a fact bearing upon this, our informant says that he was told by Captain Daniel, who is a brother of one of the editors of the Richmond Examiner, and a conductor on the Petersburg railroad, that last Monday morning he brought a train loaded with troops as far as Chester Station, where they were stopped, it being uncertain whether they would go over to the north side of the James or return.
Provisions are sill advancing. No sugar or coffee has been issued to the troops since our occupation of the Weldon railroad, before which it was occasionally done. The fall of Atlanta had not been known long enough with certainty for its effects to be seen to any marked extent.