To this I at once sent the following:
Your dispatch of 8.25 is just received. There is a good deal of musketry firing going on in our lines by the men firing off their guns to put in fresh loads. Unless I break loose entirely from General Humphreys, I think the force he sent to relieve General Griffin is much more than under any circumstances could be needed there. My troops are, however, at all times as ready to move as it is possible to keep them for a long time. If the enemy break General Humphreys' line at any time, or threaten to do so, I shall not wait for orders to assist him if can.
At 8.50 a. m. the following was received from General Humphreys, written 7.40 a. m.:
Please let me know where you right will rest, that I may connect with you, General Miles has already relieved General Griffin, and I find a vacant space on his left.
At 8.55 a. m. the following order was received from General Meade's headquarters, and the necessary orders consequent upon it were given to the chief of artillery, chief quartermaster, and chief commissary:
Owing to the weather no change will to-day be made in the present position of the troops. three days' rations of subsistence and forage will be brought up and issued to the troops and the artillery, and every one authorized to accompany them. The empty supply wagons will be sent to the rear, to be refiled at the railroad terminus. The chief engineer and corps commanders will use every exertion to make practicable the roads to the rear, and communicating with their several commands.
At 9 a. m. the following dispatch was sent to General Humphreys in reply to his:
I send you a sketch of the country west of the plank road and a copy of my communication to General Webb as to my position. I cannot take up any regular line of battle on account of the woods and swamps, but have assembled each division at a point so they can fight in any direction with the line refused. I had a portion of Griffin and a battery stationed at Stroud's for support. I don't think your left could be turned, even if I moved away, without your having full information; but as my troops now are, I could move Griffin right turn your flank along with my artillery. I shall work hard all day to get the road through the woods in order.
At 9.40 a. m.,from information received, I sent the following dispatch:
Chief of Staff:
I have just received report from Generally Ayres that the enemy have their pickets still this of the White Oak road, so that their communication is continuous along it. I have sent out word to him to try and drive them off or develop with what force the road is held by them.
This operation I deemed essentially necessary to the safety of our position, and only rendered the more so by the suspension of a further movement of troops, as this pause would give time to the enemy to gain a knowledge of our force and position. And in order that the troops might gain rest while operations were suspended a greater distance would be required between our picket-line and line of battle to give the latter time to fully get under arms so soon as any pressure of the advancing enemy showed itself at the advance posts. To prevent any relaxation of vigilance till our position should be made secure, I gave no notice to my command of the order suspending movements. General Webb on receiving the above-quoted dispatch sent me the following, written 10.30 a. m.:
Your dispatch giving Ayres' position is received. General Meade directs that should you determine by your reconnaissance that you can get possession of and hold the White Oak road you to do so, notwithstanding the order to suspend operations to-day.