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Doc. 132.-the Wytheville expedition.

General Scammon's despatch.

Charlestown, July 24.
General Kelly: Colonel Toland, with the Second Virginia cavalry and the Thirty-fourth [446] Ohio mounted infantry, cut the railroad at Wytheville, Virginia, and destroyed two pieces of artillery, seven hundred muskets, and a large amount of ammunition and stores, and had a sharp fight in Wytheville. Captured one hundred and twenty-five prisoners, who were paroled. Killed, seventy-five. Wounded, not known. Our loss is seventy-eight killed, wounded, and missing. Seventeen were killed, including Colonel Toland and Captain Delaney. Colonel Powell is very dangerously wounded, and is a prisoner. We were fired upon from houses, public and private, by the citizens, even by the women. My men totally destroyed the town, and reached Fayette yesterday, after a march of about three hundred miles.

E. P. Scammon. Brigadier-General.

A National account

camp Piatt, Virginia, July 26, 1863.
On the afternoon of the thirteenth instant, the Second Virginia volunteer cavalry, and the Thirty-fourth Ohio volunteer infantry, mounted, left Browntown, Virginia, under command of Colonel John Toland, and proceeded up Lens Creek to Lens Mountain. Crossing this, we reached Coal River, a small river which empties into the Kanawha. As the time allotted for our special duty was passing away, we travelled through the night, resting a few minutes at daylight to arrange our affairs for continuing our march. Moving along the river toward Raleigh Court-House, which place we passed to our left, we struck the Shady Spring road, and at eight P. M., encountered the enemy's pickets, of about one hundred men, who immediately fired upon our advance, killing two and wounding three others of the Second Virginia cavalry. The pickets immediately gave the news of our approach, and the rebels, though fortified, began to prepare for a backward movement, and fearing an ambush, we awaited the approach of day before renewing the attack. The night was intensely dark, and our command became divided, one taking the road to Raleigh, the other to Wyoming. However, the mistake was soon rectified, and on Wednesday morning, tired and hungry, the column again moved on the Wyoming road. The country is barren of grain and produce. No males remain at home, having either entered one or the other armies, or removed to places more secure. After travelling hard all day we reached Trumps's Farm, the owner being in the rebel army. Little or no attention was paid to our troops by the citizens, and they received little in return at this place. General Scammon had ordered a train of forage and rations, and orders were received to take six days rations for men, two for horses, and after a short sleep we arose from our grassy beds and prepared to continue our march toward Dixie. At three A. M., Thursday, we took the Marsh Fork road of Coal River, and struck the Guyan Mountain. The ascent of this mountain was tedious, as the road has not been travelled for a long time; consequently our way had to be cleared of obstructions that impeded our march. The summit at last reached, we began to descend, and enter a valley destitute of name or people. What few inhabitants live (?) here obtain a livelihood by digging ginseng and other roots, and are satisfied with that scanty allowance. The country is destitute of improvements. The grist-mills, if I may be allowed to call them such, are erected by joint-stock companies, with a capital of about seventy-five cents and a few hours' labor, and this does the work of two or more families. They live in huts that the Esquimaux would scorn to be invited into. Long, dirty, tobacco-dried, sallow-complexioned women stare at you as you pass. Ask them a question, they answer you, giving what information they possess, but it is so little as to render you no assistance. Continuing through the valley, we reached Wyoming Court-House, a place of no importance. It contains a few dilapidated buildings, and points again to the native genius and industry of the people, who eke out a miserable existence in this Godforsaken, country. Here a small dirty tavern stands, with two or three half-starved old men gazing upon the Yankees as they march along, eyeing them, expecting that they will destroy all property, and insult women and murder the children. We passed through this place about noon, and struck the Indian Creek road. Proceeding through a most miserable country, we camped for the night about thirty miles south-east of Wyoming Court-House, and grounded ourselves for the night. At two A. M., Friday, the seventeenth, “boot and saddle sounded,” and at three A. M. our column was in motion. We crossed the Tug range of mountains and met the Tug Fork of Big Sandy, continued down the creek to near Abb's Valley, where we learned the rebel Colonel Beckley was organizing a battalion at Camp Pemberton, under Captain Stoting. The rain came down in torrents, drenching all to the skin. No one, except they that have travelled through the mountains of Virginia, can conceive how it rains on the mountains. Arriving within four miles of this camp, our advance started on a trot, and about three o'clock P. M. the rebel pickets and entire camp were captured, consisting of one captain and thirty-five men; but one escaped, who was then on horse.

We went ahead, and began to move more rapidly until within five miles of Jeffersonville, the county-seat of Tazewell County,where we encamped for the night. Through Abb's Valley the scenery beggars description for beauty. As far as the eye can reach stretch, in every direction, hills and vales. The country is rich, owned principally by wealthy citizens, who were very influential in bringing about the rebellion, living in luxury and ease. They little dreamed that they, living in so remote a place, should be made to feel the weight of the hand of war. On Saturday morning, at two o'clock, we left our camping ground, without feed for horses, and our men, having got all their rations wet while crossing rivers, began to feel the want of food. We left [447] Jeffersonville to our right, and struck Clinch River. The country is beautiful; good farms, poorly attended. We then crossed Rich Mountain. From this mountain the scenery is grand, and nothing can be traced to lead one to believe that desolating war has ever paid them his visits. The people had heard much and seen little of Yankee soldiers; none, save prisoners, had ever passed through this part of Dixie, and the white population looked upon us with fear, ready to give all when asked. On the other hand, the negroes assembled in groups, threw themselves in every conceivable form; jumping, singing, dancing, yelling, and giving signs that “the year of jubilee had come.” The white men fled, as we approached, leaving their homes at our mercy, which were not molested, except used in some way to benefit the rebel army; in such cases, they were always destroyed. We now struck Beartown Mountain, and then entered Buck Garden, a place of resort, owned principally by Erl Perry, a man of considerable influence among the ignorant. At this place a store was owned by the rebel Colonel Callahan, and in his charge the brother of the thief J. B. Floyd had placed a splendid medical library; the buildings were destroyed, as well as a flour-mill in the same vicinity. Passing through this rich strip to Garden Mountain, Bland County, Virginia, which is well worth a visit in peaceable times, and crossing this, we enter Rich Valley and continue to Walker's Mountain; crossing this, we strike Strong Fork road toward Wytheville, Wy.the County, Virginia, (a place of one thousand eight hundred inhabitants, on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad;) after proceeding a few miles, we came in sight of the enemy's pickets; skirmishing immediately commenced, and when we were within four miles from the town the charge was sounded and the cavalry put in motion. The charge was led by Captain Delany, of the First Virginia cavalry. About four o'clock P. M., we came in sight of the town of Wytheville. The charge began in earnest. The cavalry, under command of Colonel Powell, all expected to find the enemy in line of battle; but, instead of this, they assembled in various buildings commanding the principal streets, and opened a deadly volley upon our advancing column. The town was entered, and scarce had the first company passed ere the citizens and soldiers opened from every house a terrible fire; one volley killed Captain Delany and his First Lieutenant, and severely wounded his Second Lieutenant; but three companies entered the town on the charge, two companies, the First Virginia cavalry, and company I, Second Virginia cavalry, the remainder having been thrown in disorder by the dead horses and men that strewed the narrow street. These three companies now in town began to work in earnest, dashing from one end of the town to the other; they discovered two pieces of artillery being placed in position; one grand dash and the pieces changed hands, with the commander and four men. Word was now sent to Colonel Toland for reenforcetnents; the Thirty-fourth dismounted and came double-quick to our relief. Charging on the buildings, they soon began to dislodge the rebels; the town was ordered to be burned, to drive them from their fortified places. Colonel Toland rode from the rear, and took his position in the centre of the street; sharp-shooters immediately began to play destruction among the officers, and ere he had been there ten minutes a fatal shot struck him in the breast, producing instant death. Colonel Powell, who had just received a wound in the right shoulder, was carried from the field; thus in an instant both commands lost their leaders, and all deeply felt the loss. Reenforcements were sent to the rebels from Dullin's Depot and other places, and the town of Wytheville, from this moment, was eras ed from existence; the small bridge near the town, was burned, and we fell back, not being able to procure our dead for burial. All our wounded having been left in the enemy's hands, we fell back about two miles, and awaited the approach of day. At this time we learned our rear-guards were attacked; they having all prisoners captured up to this time in their possession, were compelled to divide their force, but the rebel numbers being four to one, soon captured the prisoners, killing two of their own, and two of the Thirty-fourth Ohio regiment, and taking thirteen prisoners; they made good their escape. Upon the approach of daylight on Sunday, the nineteenth, the question was what was best to be done. Lieutenant-Colonel Franklin, of the Thirty-fourth Ohio, assumed command. It appears that the orders given Colonel Toland were in cipher, and understood by no others than the General and himself. To return by the road we came all knew would be attended with difficulty, and loss of life and property; however, the course was adopted, and we began the backward movement. A few miles from this place we found two dead Zouaves lying on the road; one had been stripped of his boots and pants by his murderer, and left thus to be devoured by the starving swine, or lie thus exposed to the scorching sun, an idea too horrible to dwell upon. I thought, certainly, we would have taken time to perform the last and sacred rite, but through no apprehension and fear of further trouble in front and rear, they were left to be disposed of as kind Providence should dictate. On we journeyed, until we reached East River mountain, and learned that the road had been blockaded to prevent our escape, and trouble us, till a sufficient force could be had to capture us. We had already been forty-eight hours without food for ourselves and horses. The latter began to show signs of exhaustion. Proceeding on, toward evening, the column was halted, and the rebel cavalry announced in front.

We at once drew up in line of battle, awaiting their approach. After a skirmish of three quarters of an hour, they withdrew. We at once asscended Blue Stone Mountain by file. The road was very steep, and ere we reached the top twenty-three horses lay stretched across the road, having fallen from exhaustion; we now had to go afoot, one hundred and eighty miles from [448] camp. The summit being reached, it was now dark. “Why don't we rest?” was the anxious inquiry of the weary soldier, who thought capture nothing compared with starvation. The descent was terrible; cliffs of ten to thirty-one feet, down which the smooth-footed horse would slide, with scarce life enough to arrest his progress, except it be stopped by contact with a tree or some other obstacle. Many horses left alone staggered over the cliffs and were for ever lost. It was not until midnight we reached Blue Stone Creek, and all threw themselves upon the ground, hungry and tired. On Monday, the twentieth, we left our camping ground at three A. M., the third day, without food and no prospect of any; we pass along Blue Stone Creek, until we strike Tug Fork, Big Sandy. This day was extremely hot, and taking the Wyoming road, we camped for the night. This ended four days without food. Here cattle were killed, and we soon ate what little could be had, and by daylight, the twenty-first, every thing was ready. We travelled along the ridge until we struck the Guyan Mountain. The weather was warm and sultry, and our horses began to tire out and show signs of giving out. This was about thirty-five miles from Raleigh, in the mountains. No one knew the road. Here we procured a guide, who manoeuvred with us all day, and after we camped at night, we ascertained we were still thirty-five miles away. The guide had deceived us. Upon inquiring for him, we learned he had escaped to parts unknown, taking a horse and revolver. Had he been found, death would have been his fortune. We procured another guide. On the following day we started at daylight in search of Raleigh, hungry and tired. Messengers had been sent ahead to procure food for horses and men, when finding our forces had fallen back to Fayetteville, we camped for the night. At daylight the train from Fayetteville, with rations and feed, arrived. Three good, hearty huzzas rent the air for crackers and coffee, and in a few hours we reached Fayetteville, where we remained, rested our horses, and left on Friday morning, the twenty-fourth, for camp. All were tired and worn out, having been eleven days, part of the time (about five days) without food, and six nights without sleep, having been bushwhackers during the entire time, both annoyed by front and rear. We drew a large force after us, and proved that cavalry could go wherever it wanted, regardless of roads or expense.

We travelled over five hundred miles, over mountains of the worst character, and the most desolated country known to civilized men. Our loss in driving the troops was about eighty-five men and officers, killed, wounded, and prisoners. About three hundred horses were left on account of not being able to travel. While the loss is great to the Government, it is a success beyond a doubt. Some five thousand troops had been sent to intercept us on our backward movement, but we reached camp, tired out.

Rebel official report.

The enemy, one regiment of cavalry and parts of two regiments of infantry, about one thousand strong, rode into Wytheville a little before sunset yesterday. Almost at the same instant two newly organized companies and the employes of this place, in all about one hundred and thirty men, with two field-pieces, whom I had despatched under Major T. M. Bowyer by the passenger train, arrived. A sharp skirmish immediately commenced in the street and continued about three quarters of an hour, when Major Bowyer retired with a part of his men and brought them off in the train. Captain Oliver and two citizens were killed and Lieutenant Rosany badly wounded.

The enemy lost Colonel Toland, commanding the brigade, one other colonel, one major, and seven privates killed; one lieutenant-colonel and about twenty-five men wounded, and in our hands. The Lieutenant-Colonel, Powell, is reported mortally wounded. I am informed they lost every one of their field-officers. The command left Wytheville about ten o'clock last night, retreating toward Tazewell Court-House. It is now reported they are coming down Walker's Creek to this place. If they retreat by the way they came they will probably be intercepted and cut up. They paroled on their retreat seventy-five or eighty of our men, whom, I suppose, they found it inconvenient to carry off. Of course the parole under such circumstances is worthless under their own order. The damage to the railroad can be repaired in an hour or so. The jail, commissary, and quartermaster storehouses and several private houses were burned.

Samuel Jones, Major-General.

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