8. To meet existing circumstances all work not necessary for the defense of the position held by the army will be suspended for the present, and all enlisted men on special or detailed duty who can possibly of spared from such duty and who have arms will be returned to the ranks.
* * * *
By command of Major-General Meade:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
December 9, 1864-12.05 p. m. (Sent 12.45 p. m.)
General H. W. BENHAM,
The commanding general desires that you will report immediately by telegraph what number of men you can move to the front, leaving in the defenses of City Point the artillery and the minimum number of men necessary to hold the works, and that you hold the men available for a movement in readiness to move at very short notice with four days' rations. In order to make available as many men as possible you will draw in all extra-duty men that are subject to the orders of the commanding general.
CITY POINT, December 9, 1864.
(Received 2.45 p. m.)
General S. WILLIAMS,
My estimate, already forwarded (which please see) as a minimum to hold these defenses, is 1,800 men, besides the artillery to guard the forts; also two good regiments, to be movable at and on the lines between the forts. Including the depot guard and every surplus recruit of the engineers, my report to-day of men for duty is just short of 1,600 men. Besides these, I have a massachusetts battalion of 550 men, which are required to furnish the heavy details to picket my left and across Bailley's Creek, and a New hampshire battalion of 450 men. This comprises all my forces for defense and is at least one full regiment less than my minimum intimate. Of other troops I would state the commander of the post reports 1,136 men available in case of an emergency, and there are about 230 sharpshooters, nearly all not armed, but waiting for Spencer rifles, sent for to Washington, as I understand, by orders from headquarters Armies of the United Stated. As about all my effective men are on fatigue duty by General Grant's order, most of them constructing hospitals, upon the receipt of your order on the 7th instant to hold the infantry ready to move, I applied to Colonel bowers to know if I could take the New Hampshire battalion from that duty, to hold them ready, as per your order, but was directed to retain them and they still are upon that duty.
H. W. BENHAM,
57 R R-VOL XLII, PT III