War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0639 Chapter XXIII. RECONNAISSANCE TOWARD OLD CHURCH, VA.

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destruction of some rebel steamers and sail vessels (laden) known to be some 25 miles up the river.

On going about 20 miles we saw a dense volume of smoke suddenly arise from what it was evident were the steamers and vessels of the enemy. We then made every exertion to hasten our progress, to save a part of the property, if possible. However, on arriving to within about a mile of their locality we found an impassable barrier across the river, which is quite narrow at that point, formed of a sunken canal-boat, filled with stones, &c. Failing in our efforts to remove it Major Willard landed on the east side of the river with his command, and proceeded to the vicinity of the burning boats. Two steamers and some twenty sail-boats were found in flames.

The objects of the expedition having been thus accomplished we returned, arriving at our point of departure at dark.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. B. AYRES,

Captain, Fifth Artillery.

Captain L. D. H. CURRIE,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Smith's Division.

MAY 18-19, 1862.-Reconnaissance toward Old Church, Va.

Report of Captain James W. Forsyth, Eighteenth U. S. Infantry.

CAMP NEAR TUNSTALL'S STATION, VA.,

May 20, 1862.

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that in obedience to orders from headquarters Army of the Potomac I reported on the morning of the 18th instant to General Humphreys, Topographical Engineers, for duty in his department. General Humphreys directed me to report to Captain Stewart, of the Engineer Corps, with General Stoneman. I accordingly proceeded to do so, but found on my arrival at General Stoneman's camp that Captain Stewart had left two hours previously. Not having any means to find him, at the request of Lieutenant Bowen, Topographical Engineers, who was on the same duty, I joined his (Lieutenant Bowen's) party for the purpose of making a reconnaissance on the main road to Richmond via the Long or New Bridge.

After proceeding cautiously along this road for about 7 miles we came to road running northwest to a place called Old Church. Having heard all along the route that the enemy were in force at that point, and knowing that General Stoneman was still 5 miles in our rear, we left our escort to guard the forks, and proceeded with a party of 12 men on our original route. In the mean time we sent word to General Stoneman to the effect that the enemy were in force at the Old Church, so that he might send up re-enforcements. After moving on about a mile farther we came to a road leading to the southwest, which had the appearance of being a side of bad-weather road to the main one. We followed this road about 2 miles (the latter half of which was about west), and having heard that the enemy were in force at Cold Harbor, we took a by-road running due north, which brought us back to our original route.

About a mile and a half from the crossing we were joined by Lieutenant Custer, Fifth Cavalry, on the same duty, with the escort of a