This estimate of numbers I judge to be short of the true number of men leaving. Their tents in front of the Ninth Corps position were apparently left standing. The station near the Friend house reports:
A column of infantry moved to our left on road running through the woods near Richmond pike. I think the column to be the same that marched toward Butler's front at 3.30 p. m. They then marched in plain view, but they, in moving to the left, were on a road concealed save at this one point.
I send intercepted messages with this.*
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. F. FISHER,
Colonel and Chief Signal Officer.
SPECIAL ORDERS, HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
December 8, 1864.
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6. In the event of a movement being necessary, the following dispositions will take place: The intrenched lines held by the troops designated will be left under the general directions of Major-General Parke. The commanding officers of the several corps detachments will report accordingly to Major-General Parke-the Second Corps by telegraph from Second Corps headquarters, the Sixth Corps by telegraph from Fifth Corps headquarters. The troops in the defenses of City Point will also be under the orders of Major-General Parke, to whom Brigadier-General Benham, commanding those troops, will report by telegraph. The troops composing the movable column will be under the orders of Major-General Humphreys. The commanding officers of the Ninth Corps reserves will accordingly report by telegraph to Major-General Humphreys, taking his orders as to arrangements and reporting the strength of their commands and position of same. The minimum amount of transportation will in all cases be taken consistent with carrying the prescribed amount of ammunition, subsistence, forage, and hospital supplies. In all cases where practicable use will be made of the pack saddles and mules of the supply trains. Major-General Humphreys will designate twenty-four guns to accompany his column, to be taken from the reserves of the Second and Ninth Corps. The troops at these headquarters, which have been provisionally place under the command of Colonel A. H. Tippin, Sixty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, will accompany the movable column. Colonel Tippin will accordingly report by telegraph to Major-General Humphreys the organization and strength of his command.
* * * * *
By command of Major-General Meade:
CITY POINT, December 8, 1864.
Ninth Army Cops:
In accordance with orders from General Meade, I have the honor to report to you as commanding the defenses of this place. As you may not be informed in detail of the troops I have here, I would state that
*See Dillingham to Stryker, next, ante.