Richmond, December 23, 1864.
General CUSTIS LEE,
The Secretary of war orders out one-half the men now in bureaus; I wish you to suggest a mode to get them out speedily. If there be no movement of the enemy, had you not better come up in the morning? Come up or not, as you may think best.
By command of General Ewell:
BENJ. S. EWELL,
Colonel and Assistant-General.
WILMINGTON, December 23, 1864.
Lieutenant Colonel W. H. TAYLOR,
Fleet reported this morning as unchanged in position and numbers. About forty vessels are assembled off New Inlet. Sea has been too rough for any landing outside of the bar so far.
WILMINGTON, December 23, 1864,.
Colonel JOHN B. SALE,
The fleet which drew off in the rough weather is again assembled; seventy vessels now in sight on the coast. The advance of the Troops only reached here to-night.
(Copies sent to the President, Secretary of War, and the Adjutant-General.)
Wilmington, December 23, 1864.
Major General J. F. GILMER,
Chief Engineer, Richmond:
GENERAL: We seem to be in the midst of disasters all round. Our position here is very precarious, and as the enemy's fleet are off New Inlet in heavy force, in our present depleted condition it may be carried at any moment unless the enemy delay until Hoke shall have arrived. None of his people have made their appearance yet. The fleet seem to be waiting for smooth water. From various circumstances I fear their plan is one I have been apprehensive of ever since Cushing's memorable export of coming in the harbor at night in a small boat-that is, to send in barges the first smooth and dark night with troops over New Inlet bar, land on the beach at Confederate Point, and carry the batteries. It is perfectly feasible with our sadly diminished garrisons, the best men of which were taken to Georgia. The vessels of the enemy