II. In consequence of the return to duty of Colonel Louis Bell, Fourth New Hampshire Volunteers, Colonel F. A. Osborn, Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers, is hereby relieved from command of the Third Brigade, Second Division, and will report at headquarters Tenth Army Corps.
* * * * *
By order of Brigadier General R. S. Foster:
P. A. DAVIS,
Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General.
SEPTEMBER 23, 1864. (Received 7.20 p.m.)
General Butler thinks it will be well to relax your rule about communication between the pickets, and let them exchange papers; anyhow, it can be tried of awhile.
GEO. A. KENSEL,
Acting Chief of Staff.
HDQRS. THIRD DIVISION, EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Deep Bottom, Va., September 23, 1864.
Major R. S. DAVIS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Dept. of Va. and N. C.:
MAJOR: I have the honor to report for the information of the major-general commanding, in obedience to instructions of September 21, that last night my pickets at the lower post below Four-Mile Creek heard chopping in the woods in their front beyond the rebel advanced pickets and across Strawberry Plains. There were also early this morning more picket fires than usual in the same woods. Their main picket-line at that point is supposed to run through the woods along or near the road from New Market Hill to Malvern Hill, only two or three vedettes having been visible on the plain. No change in their picket-line above or below Four-Mile Creek is visible this a.m., nor any change within the small portion of their lines that can be seen from within our lines. Considerable changes have been heretofore observed in the number and size of picket-fires above Four-Mile Creek when there has been no change in the strength of the picket and nothing in the weather to account for it. The officer of the outpost thought the fires not picket but camp fires, or intended to be thought camp-fires.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. J. PAINE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
September 24, 1864-3 p.m. (Sent 3.30 p.m.)
I beg leave to refer to you a dispatch* just received from General Birney. When you directed me to take command of all the troops and line now occupied by General Birney I requested him to send to these
*See Birney to Williams, beginning-I have the honor, &c., p. 1004.