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[331]

Cincinnati Gazette account.

camp Poco, Kanawha River, Thurs. day night, July 18, 1861.
I embrace the earliest opportunity to give you the particulars of this ill-starred affair.

Information having been received at headquarters that the rebels were preparing to make a stand at Scaryville, eight or ten miles above this point, where Scary Creek empties into the Kanawha, Gen. Cox ordered the Twelfth Ohio regiment, Col. Lowe, a portion of two companies of the Twenty-First, the Cleveland Light Artillery, Capt. Cotton, with two rifled six-pounders, and a small cavalry company from Ironton, in all about one thousand men, under the command of Col. Lowe, to proceed up the river by land on a reconnoitring expedition. The instructions to the commanding officer were, that if he found the rebels in a position from which they could be easily dislodged, to drive them out; if not, to take a position and hold it till the main body of the army could advance. Col. Norton, of the Twenty-First, who had explored the ground the day previous, accompanied the party, but was only permitted to take with him a fragment of his command.

The army is encamped near the mouth of Pocotaligo Creek, or “Poco,” as it is generally called, the advance thus far having been made mainly by steamboats, four of which have been chartered by the Government for the transportation of troops and stores up and down the Kanawha. On one of these the reconnoitring party, supplied with forty rounds of ammunition, embarked about 9 o'clock in the morning, and were landed on the opposite bank of the river, at a point a few hundred yards lower down, where there is a road leading across the country to Scaryville. The distance from the camp to the village is eight or ten miles by river, but not more than four or five by land.

The column moved cautiously, the scouts thoroughly scouring the country on both sides of the road as they advanced. About 3 o'clock, the party reached the vicinity of Scaryville, when the fragment of the Ironton cavalry company, which had somehow fallen to the rear, was ordered to advance. They had no sooner rounded the brow of the hill, which gradually slopes off to the creek, but runs a bolder spur in the direction of the river, than they were met by a discharge from a battery on the opposite shore of the smaller stream, which killed one of their men, and caused the company to retreat in great disorder.

Capt. Cotton's company of artillery, which fought like so many tigers, was at once ordered to advance, and took position near the top of the hill, under a clump of trees. The principal fortification of the enemy, a huge breastwork of earth, was distinctly visible about half-way up the opposite slope, and seemed to have been prepared with considerable skill. The distance from our battery was about five hundred yards. The rebels had but two pieces of artillery, both rifled six-pounders, the same as our own. Capt. Cotton had no sooner taken position than two balls whistled over his head, cutting the twigs from the topmost branches of the trees. His men quickly unlimbered their pieces and went to work, while he posted himself to their right to watch the effect of his shot on the enemy's works. The first few rounds, like those of the rebels, were too high, but the captain kept on crying out, “a little lower, boys,” till the proper elevation was attained, when he played upon them rapidly, and in fifteen minutes silenced their guns with the loss of only one man, private John Haven of Scholersville, Putnam County, a handsome, intelligent young man, as brave as a lion, and the pet of the company. Poor fellow! his right hip was shot away just as he was passing a ball to his gun. When his captain saw him fall, he ran and picked him up, and conveyed him in his own arms to a place of safety. “Never mind me, captain,” he cried, “but don't let that flag go down!” He still lingers, but can hardly survive the night.

The infantry was now ordered to advance, and rapid volleys of musketry followed from each side, which could be distinctly heard at the camp. The ten or twelve log huts composing the village of Scaryville were filled with rebel infantry, the chinking having been removed so that the cracks could serve as loopholes. From these, every few moments, were seen to issue livid sheets of flame, followed by the rattle of their rifles, and whistling of their Minie balls. As soon as Capt. Cotton observed to what use the buildings had been put, he turned his artillery upon them, hitting one at almost every shot. The manner in which the logs, guns, and limbs of men were scattered about, as his percussion shell would strike, must have been anything but encouraging to the rebels.

The position which the rebels had chosen for their stand was a very good one, but no better, perhaps, than a hundred others that might have been selected lower down. The hill was high and precipitous, and the country to their left densely wooded, while that on their right, except for a few rods at the mouth of the creek, was open, thus giving them the advantage of cover, while our troops, in case they attempted to advance their right wing, would be fully exposed to the enemy's fire. As the ammunition of our boys was now getting low, an order was given to charge bayonets. The left wing, composed of the fragment of the Twenty-first and one or two companies of the Twelfth, led by Lieut.-Col. White, promptly obeyed, and, rushing down the hill, forded the stream, which was more than knee deep, and rushed upon the enemy's intrenchments. Had the movement on the right been equally prompt, the rebels would have been utterly routed; but, owing partly to the incompetency of their officers, and partly to the fact that they were badly disciplined, they faltered, and soon after fled. The left could not hold their position alone, although they did all that could have been expected


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Scary Creek (West Virginia, United States) (1)
Putnam (Ohio, United States) (1)
Kanawha (West Virginia, United States) (1)

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Cotton (3)
Enoch Louis Lowe (2)
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J. D. Cox (1)
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