AR, M&C 7/1/1866 P

Annual Report of the Memphis & Charleston RR
as of July 1, 1866,
President's Report
 
President's Report
 
   The President and Directors herewith submit to the Stockholders their twelfth annual report:
   The last, or eleventh, annual report of your company gave its operations to 30th June, 1861. That report showed the country was then engaged in a civil war on the most gigantic scale, having changed and disturbed every channel of trade and commerce, utterly destroying all natural and healthy elements of business, and leaving your company dependent on the elements of war for its business, and subject in its operations to the whims and caprices of military rule. This state of things continued growing worse daily, as the two great armies pressed nearer together, concentrating as they did near Corinth, on the line of your road, and before the close of the next fiscal year your road was taken possession of by the federal army, thereby preventing your regular annual meeting and report in 1862.
   It will be the purpose of the board, in this report, to give a brief history of the operations of your company for the past five years, during most of which time war, with all its horrors, raged over the southern States, and especially were its operations confined to the immediate vicinity of the line of your road, and for three years of the time it was practically the picket line of both armies, and each seeming to vie with each other to see which could produce the greatest amount of destruction to your property.
   From the date of your last report the road was operated as usual until the 11th of April, 1862.
   The receipts and expenditures of that operation will appear from the treasurer's balance sheet, herewith attached, as well as the disposition of the earnings as shown in the general profit and loss account. From this statement it will be seen that during the nine months thus operated, two cash dividends of four per cent. each upon the capital stock of the company were paid to the stockholders, to wit:
September 30, 1861, cash dividends, No. 5 $152,501.00
February 2, 1862,          "           "        No. 7 212,509.00
January 9, 1862, a stock dividend of 33 1/4 per cent., No. 6 1,330,841.67
   Total dividends 1,695,851.67
which was charged to profit and loss. Besides this a dividend was declared March 31, 1863, payable in confederate money, to wit: dividend No. 8 $212,509, on which $143,789 has been paid in confederate money, leaving $68,720 that has never been called for.
   The condensed balance sheet of the treasurer and his condensed account of profit and loss will give the operations of each year, showing the receipts and disbursements of each separately, which have been closed by profit and loss, and showing the condition of the company on the 30th June, 1865, from which time to the 30th June, 1866, the operations of your company assumed their regular course, and its business is shown in detail by the reports of the treasurer, general superintendent, and chief engineer, which will be referred to in a subsequent part of this report.
   The road was operated under the most trying circumstances, taxing the energy of every officer of the company to their utmost capacity, under the most exciting scenes of active war near its line, with serious interference of the military officers, who frequently assumed control of the trains from the 30th of June, 1861, (the date of your last report,) until the 11th of April, 1862. On that day, at 5 o'clock a. m., a large federal army, suddenly and without a moment's notice, appeared at Huntsville, Alabama, capturing your road with all its shops, rolling stock, offices, books, materials, and valuable property, including eighteen locomotives, one hundred freight cars, six passenger cars, two baggage and a large number or road and hand cars, all your shop tools and materials at Huntsville, and a large amount of wood, cross-ties, and other valuable property on the line of road between Decatur and Stevenson, Alabama. Only five days previous to this capture the bloody battle of Shiloh had been fought near the line of your road north of Corinth. The confederate forces were falling back to their intrenchments at Corinth, and the federal army pressing up to the line of your road near Big Bear creek.
   Immediately after the capture of Huntsville the confederate commander at Corinth gave orders for the remainder of your machinery west of Huntsville to be concentrated at and west of Corinth with the least possible delay. The federal army being then moving rapidly to cut off this movement, under the excitement and haste attending the surrounding scenes, this movement was made in great confusion, and much loss of property necessarily took place. The pressing and exciting scenes in and around Corinth from the 11th of April to the 30th of May, incident to a heavy and determined siege, and the concentration of two immense hostile armies, taxed your road, its rolling stock, and the energies of its officers and operators to their utmost capacity, day and night, leaving no time to settle up business. A great and decisive battle was hourly expected for over forty days; but, suddenly as it was unexpected, on the 29th of May came the order to evacuate the place, as well as the remainder of the line of your road. The order was to remove everything by 12 o'clock that night -- that the troops would leave the intrenchments at that hour. The large amount of property to remove, the short time allowed for its removal, rendered it impossible to execute the order without great confusion and serious loss. The commanding general if the confederate forces ordered all your rolling stock and other valuable property to be removed from the line of your road, down the Mobile & Ohio and Mississippi roads. It was done in obedience to that order, the last seven trains leaving Corinth at 4 o'clock a. m. on the morning of May 30th, 1862, where they were detained by the military authorities until that hour. When they had proceeded west thirteen miles to Cypress creek, discovered the bridge over that stream on fire, thereby cutting these trains off. This bridge was burned by order of the commander at Corinth without notice to your officers. As soon as it was found that these trains must fall into the hands of the enemy, the military ordered them destroyed, which was done. By this misfortune you lost four of your best engines and over thirty cars. This, together with your losses at Huntsville and a large number of cars smashed up and lost in so heavy an accumulation of stock at Corinth reduced your rolling stock very materially. After moving everything that I could get away under the orders I had received, and arranging the business of the company as best I could, by the advice and solicitation of the executive committee and all the members of the board on the western division, I proceeded south with this stock and all the assets of this company I could get together, stopping first near Grenada, Mississippi; but soon I was ordered to the line of the Mobile & Ohio road, taking with me Captain W. J. Ross, the general superintendent, whom I put in charge of your machinery, and Mr. George Robertson, your secretary and treasurer, whom I kept in charge of your books and assets.
   We located at Marion, Mississippi, where we erected temporary shops, and began putting the machinery in order, but finding as fast as we put an engine or car in order it was ordered away by the military, I finally abandoned the project, and procured authority from the military to make contracts for, and received hire from, the various roads on which your machinery had been ordered. Under this authority receipts from these various roads were procured, beginning in the summer of 1863, requiring them to pay rent and all losses or damages by capture or otherwise, taking upon themselves the same responsibility as if it were their own.
   This is the character of receipts your company now holds, upon which is based the large balance due by other roads to your company.
   In the fall of 1862, after the evacuation of your road by the federal army, fro Decatur to Stevenson, by order of General Bragg the board again resumed its possession, rebuilt the road between those points, and a portion of the shop machinery, all of which had been destroyed or badly damaged. As soon as rebuilt, they operated this portion of the road until July 1, 1863, when they were again forced to evacuate by order of General Bragg, taking south what little machinery they had left. From this time until the close of the war, your property, or most of it, remained in the hands of the federal army, being constantly raided upon by the confederates. The contest over this section of the country was so hot that neither party was able to run the road through after it was first cut, April 11, 1862. After abandoning the ideal of keeping up a shop at Marion, Mississippi, and trying to put what machinery we had left in order, which was done early in 1863, we moved our headquarters to Demopolis, Alabama, where, under my immediate direction, the general superintendent and treasurer made up their accounts monthly, and, as far as practicable, made collections for the use of machinery from the various roads having it in possession. The funds thus derived from your property were invested by me, and under my direction, to the greatest advantage, according to the best of my judgment, which will appear more in detail under the financial head.
   During the latter part of the year 1864, owing to the failure of the confederate government to pay the roads promptly for transportation, they were unable to pay their obligations to you for hire, which accounts for the large amount now standing to the debit of railroad companies. These accounts have been carefully examined, and the amount reduced to the lowest price that such machinery ever hired for, even when gold was the basis of circulation, and it is believed the amount as now charged to them will be admitted as just, and paid as soon as they are able. In the latter part of 1864, and the early part of 1865, the numerous raids made through the southern States by the federal forces, together with the demoralized condition of the country, when every available man had been called into military service, rendered life and safety of property very uncertain. In such a condition of affairs it was hard to tell what was best to do, or where to go for safety. Your books and valuable assets were kept in charge of Mr. Robertson, your treasurer, who acted under my immediate direction, and moved from place to place as circumstances seemed to justify for safety. I made numerous efforts to get your more valuable assets to Canada or Europe, and succeeded in sending to Liverpool over $300,000 of Tennessee bonds. The remainder of the assets were kept south until after General Lee and Johnston's surrender. A Few days before General Taylor's surrender, I succeeded in getting them to a steamer on the Yazoo river, and sent them to St. Louis, where I afterwards took possession of them. *****
   I cannot too strongly urge the necessity of adopting the plan recommended by the chief engineer, of replacing the present short and insufficient chair with the twenty-four-inch double-lipped rolled chair. It cannot fail to be a most valuable improvement to your property, leading to a very great saving of labor in keeping up the track, as well as a saving of wear and tear of machinery and iron rails. By using this chair the liability to accident would be less, and the advantages of your shorter line would be secured, your track being thus placed in such a condition that trains could be safely run at as high speed as on any other line. It is believed that your express passenger trains could then be run thirty miles an hour as easily as twenty miles now, and with no greater wear and tear of machinery.
   ***** The purchases of cotton in confederate money amounted to 1,211 bales; 333 bales were sold before the surrender, for gold, at four cents per pound, after General Taylor's order was given to burn all the cotton in his department. This sale was a half interest in 666 bales which the company owned in warehouse at Montgomery, and was made with the hope that the party to whom it was sold might be able to save it together with your undivided interest; 280 bales were burned and stolen; a large amount of the balance was recovered in a badly damaged condition; 151 bales saved at Montgomery was seized and carted off by treasury agents, and afterwards compromised and sold as it was for thirteen cents per pound. *****
Respectfully submitted:
Sam. Tate
President

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