Grove Church along the river to Mechanicsville. We had proceeded about a mile and a quarter from the Grove Church when, during a halt of the advance, from Mr. Austin's house with a lgass we could see to the southwest a couple of spires over the wood beyond the Chikahominy Valley and in an angle of wood a camp, perhaps one mile and a halt to two miles distant. The wood prevented its extent from being seen. Nearly south of west, in a clearing, could be seen at least a regiment, arms stacked and men in groups, and near by partly concealed by intervening woods three or four caissons. The Chickahominy appeared to come within about a third of a mile or so of Mr. Austin's. Shortly after passing his house you descend a hill to Ellerson's Mill, and after crossing a narrow valley, cross by a weak bridge perhaps twenty-five feet to thirty feet long what we have been told is Bell's Creek, running nearly south. At this point its banks are high, though the stream is very narrow, and it would be impassable but for bridge. After winding around the hill beyond the bridge on the plateau we fell in with the enemy's pickets, and in a few moments a couple pieces were brought into battery on a knoll some 1,200 yards, it is supposed, in advance, and infantry was seen moving toward our right. Firing was continued an hour or so, and our advance, together with that of General Davidson, stopped for the night. General Stoneman placed his troops in rear of the Bell's Creek for the night. This morning about 4.30 firing commenced again between General Davidson (whose command was during the night in advance of the creek) and the enemy, and is now being continued. The road thus far has been pretty good through an undulating country. We are said to be about one mile and quarter to one mile a a half from Mechanicsville. Mr. Austin says that the railroad bridge has replaced the upper Meadow bridges; that the latter do not now exist. His assertions, however, as to one or two other points wer enot very reliable and make me distrust him. He calls the distance from head of Mechanicsville turnpike to the railroad bridge about one mile and a half. A negro is reported to state he has been driving teams to and from Richmond lately and that there is on the opposite side of the Chickahominy a pretty large force, not far distant; that then there are none until near Richmond; that upon each of the principal roads leading to and from that city are large bodies of troops, with, at different points of the road, heavy guns in position; that the enemy were not occupying the works around the city, but these points in advance, if I mistake not. After the firing ceased yesterday evening a battery of field pieces (six) were seen by some moving along slowly on the opposite side of the Chickahominy, apparently from us, and three other pieces at another pofiring a few shots were thrown from the opposite side of the Chickahominy to our rear, striking near Mr. Austin's house, perhaps from near the point where troops had been earlier in the afternoon.
Very respectfully, yours, &c.,
C. SEAFORTH STEWART,
Captain of Engineers.
HEADQUARTERS GENERAL STONEMAN,
Seven Miles from Richmond, on turnpike, May 24, 1862.
General J. G. BARNARD, U. S. Army,
Chief Engineer, Army of the Potomac:
SIR: I have the honor to report that during the early part of the day Lieutenant Farquhar and I were employed in ascertaining for General