War of the Rebellion: Serial 088 Page 0882 OPERATIONS IN SE.VA. AND N.C. Chapter LIV.

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as extensive as heretofore reported, and were believed by the people at large. One of our agents, and intelligent man, having more than ordinary facilities, sends me word that such a move was nearly contemplated; that it was intended to withdraw the enemy's lines about eight miles, or to the neighborhood of Proctor's Creek, thereby making a line which would be shorter, and by holding it with less troops would enable them to dispose of some by sending them to North Carolina. It is not known why it is talked of sending troops to North Carolina, but there was such a report, and people generally understand that a division has been held in readiness to go south, and one of the refugees tells me that he had it from personal friends, having relatives in Pickett's division, who received letters from their friends in the division, saying that night before last Pickett was to leave and go south, either to North Carolina or Georgia. One of the agents spoken of also sends me word that Pickett's division had left. Last night the different battalions composed of Government workmen were called out. This is no longer done by the ringing of the bell, as used to be the case, but the sergeants of the different companies notify the members. Upon assembling last evening they again dispersed, after receiving orders to reassemble this morning, and it was understood that they would be taken to the lines about Petersburg to remain there a short time. Noting is known in Richmond of the return of any part of Early's forces from the Valley. It is not expected that any portion of Hood's army will be sent this way; but, on the contrary, it is believed that it will be necessary to re-enforce Hood. Rations are issued to the men in the different Government factories. Week before last no meat was issued to them, and this lasted for ten days. During that time also the negroes employed by the Government could get no rations, and it was with difficulty that they were kept at work. There is said to be a great want of iron for the manufacture of guns, and in the factory of Joseph R. Anderson, the largest manufacturer in Richmond, no iron suitable for making nails or spikes has been on hand for two weeks past. Negroes are employed in gathering scrap iron wherever it may be found. Provisions are again advancing, and women and non-producers can get permission to go North by crossing the lower Rappahannock and Potomac, and it is said that the blockade is continually run in that direction. Files of Richmond papers of yesterday are inclosed.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEORGE H. SHARPE,

Colonel,&c.

NOTE.-The infantry seen passing through Petersburg day before yesterday by deserters may have been Pickett's division, as it was stated it came from the north side of the Appomattox.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, September 17, 1864.

Major-General HUMPHREYS,

Chief of Staff:

A battery of six pieces of artillery, heretofore lying in the vicinity of Whitehead's Factory, moved this morning on the road toward Richmond.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

B. F. FISHER,

Major and Chief Signal Officer.