BIG SEWELL, July 16, 1863.
Colonel W. H. BROWNE, Lewisburg, Va.:
I am directed by the brigadier-general commanding First Brigade to communicate through you to him at Union, Monroe County, Va., the result of my expedition to Gauley bridge and Bowyer`s Ferry. The road from Gauley to Pickett`s Mill having been more effectually blockaded since Sunday last, I was forced to dismount my men to reach their picket. This side of Tompkins` farm the road was even impassable for footmen. It took us all night to pass over the road from Pickett`s Mill to Tompkins` farm. A short distance this side of Tompkins` farm, we came across their picket, which was driven in there. Learning that the Ninety-first [Ohio] Regiment of Infantry, with some artillery and two companies of cavalry, was left to guard Gauley Bridge, I considered it imprudent to attack that place. Nearly one-half of our force having been left behind to guard the horses, I felt that my force was too small (75 men) to make a forcible demonstration upon the bridge, and, after driving their pickets beyond Tompkins`, down the mountain, returned, after doing some heavy firing. We also at the same hour made a demonstration upon the ferries opposite Fayetteville, which cased considerable excitement in their camps; the long roll was beaten, &c. We learn that General Scammon went to Fayette Court-House on Sunday with two regiments, and that the tents were all struck at Fayette Court-House that day. I shall return to camp to-morrow. It was a fortunate thing that we returned the artillery, as we could not have taken it within hearing distance of the enemy.
J. M. CORNS,
Colonel, Commanding Eighth Virginia Cavalry.
TOP OF BIG SEWELL,
July 16, 1863-11 a. m.
General JOHN ECHOLS:
We have been until this hour, 11 a. m., reaching this point, and I am satisfied, from the progress we are now making with the artillery, that it is impracticable to move the piece to Mountain Cove, as far as we can advance on account of the blockaded condition of the road. We have but fie days` rations, and it would take us nearly two days to reach that point, and about the same time to return to this mountain.
I learn from Adjutant [A. C.] Bailey, who has just returned from a scout to Mountain Cove, that it is altogether impossible to take a piece of artillery any farther than Pickett`s Mill, which is 11 miles from Gauley Bridge. In my judgment, it would be worse than folly to fire our piece that far from the enemy, and hence I have concluded to send it back. Adjutant Bailey could learn nothing that indicated an advance in the direction of Raleigh, and he is satisfied that there is no general move contemplated. I will take tho four mounted companies with me, and proceed to Gauley, and drive in their pickets. I would cross Gauley, but am advised by Adjutant Bailey that Gauley is not at the present time fordable, I learn that since the late raid of Captain [Charles I.] Lewis to Kanawha River, that they have increased their force at Gauley Bridge to a regiment, and could we