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Doc. 99.-battle of Scarytown, Va. Fought July 17

A correspondent of the Cincinnati Commercial gives the following account of this action:

From various sources of intelligence we glean the following particulars of those army operations in the Kanawha region, which eventuated in the capture of several Kentucky officers on Wednesday last. It would seem that the various detachments of Gen. Cox's brigade, which have been “cleaning out” the country, had concentrated at the mouth of the Pocotaligo River, a small stream into which enters the Kanawha about twenty miles below Charleston. The brigade is divided into three parts, one of which occupies the south or right bank of the river, the other the left bank, while the remaining portion is on three boats, prepared to support either side. On the 17th, Gen. Cox ordered the Twelfth Ohio, two companies of the Twenty-first Ohio, together with the Cleveland Artillery and Capt. Rogers' cavalry company, from Ironton, Ohio, about 1,500 men, to capture a rebel camp which was planted on a hill about five miles above. Early in the morning of that day, they marched out to do this work. They found the rebels — report says numbering 4,000 men — strongly intrenched with two rifled cannon, on a hill, having a deep valley at its base, in which was a wheat field. Outside of their fortifications were a number of log-houses, in which loop-holes had been cut; these were occupied by riflemen, supposed to number about 800. As our troops were crossing the wheat field, they were raked with grape shot. The Cleveland artillery immediately got their pieces in position, and in half an hour silenced the enemy's battery. The rifled cannon were then brought so as to rake the log-houses, and continued to deal death and slaughter among their tenants, until the want of ammunition compelled our forces to retreat.

About half-past 2 o'clock a messenger brought the word to camp that the troops had exhausted their ammunition, when Gen. Cox ordered out a reinforcement; but before it started a second messenger arrived, saying that the enemy had broken, and was flying before our bayonets. This information was false. The order to “break ranks” was then given, after which Col. Woodruff, Col. De Villiers, Lieutenant-Colonel Neff, and Captains Sloan and Hurd left the camp to see the retreat. They rode three miles beyond the camp, being one mile beyond our pickets, and mistaking the enemy, who, it would seem, had been pursuing the retreating regiments, for our troops, they trotted directly into the rebel lines and were made prisoners. Our loss is variously stated, but appears to be about a dozen killed and thirty or forty wounded.

Dr. Thompson, an ex-member of Congress, at present claiming to stand neutral, was taken before Gen. Cox on the 18th, when he admitted the rebel loss to be 65 killed and 150 wounded. On the day after the battle, a flag of truce brought Gen. Cox a letter from Col. Norton, of the Twenty-first regiment, who was wounded in the fight and afterwards made a prisoner, saying that his wound was in the thigh; that he was doing well, and expected to be out of bed in a couple of weeks. He also stated that the captured party were respectfully treated by their captors. The dead had been buried before the Silver Lake started, and the wounded brought in. There is a discrepancy between two of the accounts. The one is that Capt. Sloan is a prisoner, and the other that he is wounded in the stomach and refuses to allow the surgeons to extract the ball. There is also a difference in regard to the First Kentucky, Colonel Guthrie's command, which is divided into two sections: the one, commanded by Col. Guthrie, was to march by the way of Ripley; the other, under Major Leiper, was with the main army--one account saying that it joined Col. Cox on the evening of the 16th, the other saying that it was on Friday. As the enemy is in force on the road Col. Guthrie was to have marched, some fears are expressed as to the safety of his regiment. But with all the information we can gather, we are at present unable to form an opinion as to his probable safety. At the last accounts, the troops had not removed from the mouth of the Pocatallico, but were awaiting ammunition and cannon.

It is worthy of remark that the balls received by the wounded generally entered the upper part of the body, and passed downward. This was caused by the elevated position of the enemy. Among the wounded is one for whom we can learn no other name, although he is frequently spoken of in the letters that we have seen, than the endearing one of the Artillery Pet Boy. Although his wounds are exceedingly painful, and necessarily mortal, he is represented as bearing them with the fortitude of an old-time hero. His loss appears to cause a great deal of sorrow among his companions.

Quartermaster Gibbs occupied a prominent position in the fight, though we are unable to learn exactly what part he took in it.--Cincinnati Commercial, July 22.


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 [332] of veterans, and as they only had a few rounds of ammunition, they fell back on the right bank of the stream.

About this time, the rebels were reinforced by a regiment, (said by a captured prisoner to have been Georgians,) who came up with a fresh piece of artillery and Minie muskets. Capt. Cotton again opened with his pieces, giving them as good as they sent. He only had six or eight rounds of ammunition, however, which he disposed of in his happiest style, and then retired behind the hill.

Prior to this, a courier had been despatched to the General for assistance, who at once ordered out the Twenty-first. The boys responded promptly, but after crossing the river and marching a mile, they met the party returning. They were not pursued by the rebels. All the dead and a few of the wounded were left oil the field, as they could not be gathered under the enemy's fire. Among the latter was Col. Norton, who is said to have behaved with great bravery. He sustained a severe, though not dangerous flesh wound, and is now in the rebel camp, where, we learn, he is doing well. About thirty of our wounded were brought in by their comrades. The wounds are generally slight. Lieut. Pomeroy and private Mercer, both of the Twenty-first, and private Haven of the Cleveland Artillery, are the only ones, I think, who cannot recover. An official list of the killed, wounded, and missing has been rendered, which places our loss at 57, as follows: killed, 9; wounded, 38; missing, 9. The loss of the enemy must have been fully equal to our own.

The greatest misfortune of the day, however, was the loss of Col. Woodruff, Col. De Villiers, Lieut.-Col. Neff, and Captains Austin and Hurd. The Second Kentucky regiment, especially, is disconsolate at the loss of their gallant leader, whom they loved as a father. They would storm Gibraltar now to be with him. These officers, as I advised you by telegraph, passed our pickets to get a view of the fight, and have, doubtless, all been captured. They have been out twenty-four hours. The army will probably remain at this point some days. Weather very warm.

Friday morning, July 19.
We have just learned that Cols. Woodruff, De Villiers, and the other missing officers, are all in the rebel camp, where they are comfortably cared for.

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J. D. Cox (7)
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