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Doc. 56.-the Mattapony expedition.

The following is a communication from Admiral Lee to the Navy Department, dated June fifth, inclosing report of Lieutenant Commanding Gillis, giving the details of a joint expedition of the army and navy forces up the Mattapony River, Va.

The main object of this expedition was to destroy a foundery at a point on the Mattapony River, some ten miles above Walkerton, where it was said ordnance matter was manufactured for the enemy.

With this object in view, four hundred infantry, [279] on the morning of June fourth, arrived at Yorktown, on board the United States steamer Commodore Morris, Lieutenant Commanding Gillis; United States steamer Commodore Jones, Lieutenant Commanding Mitchell; the army gunboat Smith Briggs, and the transport Winnissimmet.

The expedition proceeded to Walkerton, about twenty miles above West-Point, on the Mattapony River, where it arrived at two A. M. of the fifth. Here the troops were landed and marched to Aylett's, where the objects of the expedition were successfully accomplished, and the foundery, with all its machinery, together with mills, grain, etc., destroyed.

The land forces also destroyed grain at other places, and captured horses, mules, and cattle, and at half-past 5 P. M. reembarked.

The vigilant dispositions of Lieutenant Commanding Gillis kept the river below clear, and the rebels attempting demonstrations at several points on the banks were dispersed by the gunboats.

The navy had no casualties.

Admiral Lee thinks the entire success of the expedition owing in a great measure to our evacuation of West-Point only five days before, thus precluding the probability of any movement in that direction, and throwing the enemy off his guard.

The following is

Lieut. Com. Gillis's report.

U. S. Gunboat Commodore Morris, off Yorktown, Va., June 6, 1863.
. . . At eight P. M [on the fourth] . . . we started up the York River, passing West-Point at forty-five minutes past ten, without noticing any thing that would indicate the presence of the enemy. . . . We arrived at Walkerton at two A. M. The troops were landed with all expedition, and reached their destination (Aylett's) at eight A. M. At that place they found the information they had previously received was correct in every particular, and the work of destruction was soon accomplished.

An immense amount of machinery of all kinds, and also a very large quantity of flour and grain, which was in a large flouring mill belonging to the rebel government, was soon rendered useless. Colonel Levis then started on his way back, stopping at different places to destroy grain, capture horses, mules, and cattle. . . . Having received information that the rebels were making preparations to obstruct the river at Mantapoke, I sent the Smith Briggs down at two P. M. to keep the river clear, and to remain at that place until my arrival.

Captain Lee, of that vessel, reports that when he came in sight of Mantapoke there were about sixty or seventy rebels collected on the bluff at Indiantown, but a few shell dispersed them. . .

. . . I am happy to state that so far as the naval portion of the expedition was concerned, every thing passed off in the most admirable manner, and without a single casualty. . . .

The land forces were not so fortunate--one man being killed and two wounded, also one missing; but, in consideration of the fact that Longstreet's corps was at or near Newton, ten miles from Aylett's, and Pickett's division at the White House, twelve miles from where we landed, I think they were as fortunate as could be expected. . . .

J. H. Gillis, Lieut. Com. and Sen. Officer, off Yorktown. To A. R. Admiral Lee.

A National account.

Yorktown, Va., June 6, 1863.
We have just returned from one of those interesting little expeditions through King William County, Va., that are now termed raids. The whole affair was a perfect success. It was carried out in a soldierly way, and one of the most satisfactory features of the affair was the absence of plundering and pilfering, which on too many former occasions have been permitted to a fearful extent.

While our forces were at West-Point, Major-General Keyes proposed the expedition, and the coast being clear for operations, an expedition was gotten up and put in execution during the past few days.

The following orders were issued to guide those in command:

headquarters Fourth army corps, Fort Yorktown, Va., June 4, 1863.
A combined expedition of land and naval forces will leave this place at six o'clock this P. M., for the purpose of destroying a foundery at a point on the Mattapony River, some ten miles above Walkerstown. The land forces will consist of four hundred infantry--one hundred each from the Fourth Delaware, One Hundred and Sixty-eighth New-York, and One Hundred and Sixty-ninth and One Hundred and Seventy-ninth Pennsylvania drafted militia — assisted by three gunboats and a transport under Lieutenant Commanding Gillis. The main purpose of the expedition is to destroy the foundery, where it is said that shot and shell and other instruments of rebellion are manufactured. In addition to that, all collections of supplies for the rebel army will be captured or destroyed. Horses and mules fit for the saddle and for draught, also sheep, cattle, and swine fit for slaughter, will be captured as far as practicable.

It is strictly forbidden, however, to take any thing or to destroy and thing not useful to troops in the field.

As the expedition is intended to penetrate far within the enemy's lines, the infantry are expected to set out with a determination to achieve success at any cost.

Volunteers will be called for to move at thirty minutes notice, and the commanding officer will be designated at the moment of departure.

The men will carry nothing but their overcoats, canteens and cartridgeboxes, with at least fifty rounds per man.

E. D. Keyes, Major-General Commanding Fourth Army Corps.


Lieutenant-Colonel C. Carroll Tevis is the commander of the infantry, and will be obeyed accordingly.

E. D. Keyes, Major-General.

The troops were all embarked according to orders, on the Gemsbok and transport, and started up the York River at seven o'clock on the evening of Thursday, the fourth of June. The gunboat Commodore Jones, Lieutenant Commander J. G. Mitchell, led the way, followed by the Commodore Morris and the Smith Briggs, Captain Lee. The latter is an army boat, mounting four guns — the boat that proved so serviceable in running the blockade on the Nansemond River. The flotilla reached West-Point about ten o'clock in the evening, and then proceeded to Walkerstown, via the Mattapony River, reaching the latter place about three o'clock in the morning.

About half-past 4, the troops were put in motion for Aylett's warehouse, about ten miles from the point of landing, and forty-five miles from the mouth of the river. The shoal water prevented the boats from going further up the river. The Fourth Delaware and the One Hundred and Sixty-eighth New-York led the way. As the White House was but ten miles distant, and knowing there was a large force of rebels there, the three points of intersection of the Dunkirk and King William Court-House roads were left in charge of detachments of the One Hundred and Sixty-eighth New-York, in order to prevent the main body from being cut off.

Small skirmishing parties of rebel infantry and cavalry attacked our men in front and in the rear, but were repulsed, with some loss in wounded and prisoners. A large number sought shelter in the swamps and dense woods, whither it was of no special benefit for us to pursue them, for time was valuable, and the expedition rested mainly in accomplishing the destruction of certain property before the enemy could bring his larger forces against us.

At Aylett's the iron foundery, machine-shops, cotton-mills, lumber-yard, and four government warehouses, containing large quantities of corn and grain, were burned; also a large mill, owned by Colonel Aylett, of the rebel army, with six thousand bushels of grain. The Colonel made his escape, although in the vicinity. The surgeon of the Fourth Delaware, I understand, captured his horse, which was nicely saddled and bridled. A great number of barns, containing stores for the rebels, such as grain, corn, whisky, cotton goods, etc., were destroyed. The amount of loss to the enemy in this way, if estimated by dollars, cannot fall short of one hundred or one hundred and twenty thousand dollars. A large number of horned cattle and about one hundred and fifty horses and mules, collected for the Richmond market, were brought down to the boats, but our limited space prevented us from taking them all. Only a portion of the horses were brought away. The contrabands, women and children, proved an immense nuisance. They followed the column, and we had to find transportation for them, to the exclusion of horses and cattle, that are really needed for the service.

General Picket's rebel division of eight thou. sand men was at Newton, ten miles from A<*>lette. He had also a strong outpost within three miles of that place; but the panic was so great in the country through which we passed that there was no serious attack on our forces. It was not credited that two hundred men would have ventured so far into the enemy's lines without any support.

Our own loss during the skirmishing was one killed and three wounded, one of the latter by the accidental discharge of his own piece, fracturing his left arm, which it may be necessary to amputate. His name is W. H. Dickerson, of the Fourth Delaware. I could not ascertain the name of the unfortunate killed. The two other wounded will get along very well, they having escaped very serious injury. Our men derived some satisfaction when they saw the effect their fire was producing. I allude to the number of secesh saddles that were emptied.

The negroes served as faithful guides, and furnished us with all the particulars we required of the male population. I omitted to mention that Captain L. H. Howard, of General Keyes's staff, accompanied us, and while ashore learned that an attempt was being made to blockade the river at a very narrow point, by felling trees about ten miles below where we were lying. The Smith Briggs immediately went down, but the report appears to have been unfounded.

During our return, we shelled the woods thoroughly. Certain portions of the banks were lined with sharp-shooters, but their spiteful, whistling shot fell harmlessly against the plating of our boats. The spattering caused more than ordinary amusement. One lone Boston Abolitionist appeared to be uneasy; but I believe scariness is a marked trait in the animal.

A prisoner in our hands, formerly of the Forty-second Virginia infantry, boasted that Stuart would be in Maryland and Pennsylvania before we had any idea, and that he would lay every thing waste. He was going prepared to fight and destroy — in fact, would spare nothing. He is very anxious to destroy the counties of Maryland bordering to the northward, which he is pleased to call “abolition-holes.”

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