MAY 8-21, 1862.-Scout in Roane and Clay Counties, W. Va.
Report of Major Benjamin M. Skinner, Ninth West Virginia Infantry.
CHARLESTON, May 22, 1862.
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of my scout into Roane and Clay Counties:
in pursuance to your order we left camp on Elk River on Thursday, the 8th instant, at 11 o'clock, and marched that day to John D. Young's, on Elk River, a distance of 17 miles, when we encamped for the night. The next day we marched up the upper left hand fork of Sandy, knowing it to be the neighborhood where Comly ranged last season, and encamped at Vineyard, having marched a distance of 28 miles.
That night I threw our scouting parties, who scoured the country around about all night. Hearing there that the rebels had gone to Spencer I marched direct for that place, a distance of 19 miles, where I arrived on Saturday, the 10th instant, at 4 p.m. I rested my men there until Monday morning; found no provisions there except flour and pork. I learned there that the rebels had not been at Spencer, but had changed their course and gone down West Pork to Big Bend, on Little Kanawha.
On Monday morning I left 75 of my men, who were foot-sore, to guard the place, and in their stead I took a company of 40 men, under Lieutenant Bukey, of the Eleventh Virginia Regiment, whom I found stationed at Spencer, and marched with my command to Burning Springs, on Little Kanawha, a distance of 19 miles, arriving there at 6 o'clock Monday evening, 12th instant.
I there found that the rebels had escaped in small squads, finding themselves nearly surrounded. I found General Kelley at Burning Springs, with the Ringgold Cavalry and about 300 infantry; found also Colonel Ratbone, of the Eleventh Regiment Virginia Infantry, they having arrived there a few hours previous. I was ordered by General Kelley to remain with my command at Burning Springs, but upon representing to him the condition of my men, they having no blankets, camp equipage, cooking untesils, &c., and that one detachment of 75 men was at Spencer, I gained his consent to leave one company only at that point, and on Wednesday, 12 m., I left Lieutenant Bukey, with his company, at that place, and with the balance of my command marched up the West Fork of Little Kanawha to within a half mile of the Greathouse settlement (where we intended to encamp), when I heard firing at a distance of about 2 miles in front of us. I then ordered my men on double-quick to the place where the firing was supposed to be, but found nothing, and marched on to the Hiram Chapman place, a distance of 21 miles from Burning Springs, where I expected to find a company of the First Virginia Cavalry encamped, from which I supposed the firing I had heard a few miles back had originated. My advance guard was cautioned to march carefully, as there was danger of encountering their pickets, but the cavalry not having any guards out, my men could have surprised them very easily, taken their horses, and captured the whole company, who were asleep in the house. I then encamped for the night and learned from the cavalry that they had been fired upon by guerrillas at a distance of 600 yards. They returned the fire, but knew nothing of the effect it had on the rebels except to disperse them.
The next morning I broke three squads from the two companies of the