came from a scouting party of the enemy on the grading which runs from Annandale to Fairfax Court-House.
On the 25th, about 5 a.m., we advanced cautiously through the woods on the north side of the Little River turnpike, when just beyond the trees felled near the road we discovered the enemy's advanced pickets seemingly extended in a line running from north to south about 1 3/4 miles this side of Fairfax Courth-House. There were no fires to be seen along this line, and the line appeared strong and well guarded, as we saw parties of 25 or 30 men stationed at single points. Not being able to advance any farther we retraced our steps, arriving at our advanced posts at about 11 a.m.
According to the statements of some farmers professing loyalty, it appears that the scouting parties of the enemy consist mostly of cavalry, which is used almost exclusively for outpost duty. Whenever the rebels expect an attack on their line they draw their pickets within about half a mile of Fairfax Court-House, and from what I saw and learned I have reason to believe that they would not make a stand this side of their barricades. I would state that from what I learned I am convinced that at the recent advance, on the 18th instant, of the enemy, their entire force consisted of only three companies of infantry, two of cavalry, and one piece of artillery. This movement was executed with great rapidity.
Finally, I would call your attention to the imprudence of some of our advanced posts. In returning from our scouting expedition, when near the bridge beyond Annandale, we met a party of some 15 men belonging to the Thirty-fifth Pennsylvania, who were out without a commissioned or other responsible officer, and whose carelessness was such, that had a party of the enemy come down the road they could have easily killed or captured them all. This party was also engaged in burning a barn situated on the Little River turnpike, about 1 mile beyond Annandale. The carelessness of the outposts of Blenker's division in giving and receiving the countersign signals is in my opinion highly reprehensible.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant, Co. E, Thirty-first New York Volunteers.
Captain E. SPARROW PURDY,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Alexandria Division.
DECEMBER 28, 1861.-Beckley [Raleigh Court-House], W. Va., occupied by Union forces.
Extract from "Record of Events," return of the Department of Western Virginia, for the month of December, 1861.
On the 28th, Colonel Scammon, Twenty-third Ohio, commanding Schenck's brigade, occupied Beckley,the capital of Raleigh County, a key point, where the route from Lewisburg to Kentucky crosses the turnpike from Great Falls to Wytheville, with four companies of infantry and one of cavalry. The move is one of great importance, stopping communication between the rebels in the central and western portions of the State.