AR, M&O 4/1/1864 CE

Annual Report of the Mobile & Ohio RR
as of April 1, 1864,
Chief Engineer's Report
Office Mobile & Ohio Railroad Company
Mobile, 19th April, 1864
Hon. Milton Brown
President, Mobile & Ohio Railroad
   I have the honor to submit as information for the Directors and Stockholders, the following report of the operations of the Road for the current year, 1863:
Receipts from transportation --
Of Passengers $1,170,143.75
 "  Freight 1,127,043.22
 "  Mail 48,727.99
 "  Express 57,134.55
Making a total of $2,403,049.51
And the Expenses --
Of repairs of Road $326,559.73
 "  Repairs of Machinery 251,816.61
 "  Conducting Transportation 681,784.31
 "  Construction 79,299.26
To which should be added --
Interest paid in Mobile 139,803.25
London interest 101,000.00
Interest payable in London or Mobile 119,933.00
        "        "       on coupons due in Mobile 10,640.00
14 Box and 20 Platform Cars lost and destroyed at 2-3 present cost 235,000.00
Making a total of $1,945,836.16
And leaving a balance of $457,213.35
   It will be observed that no estimate has been made of depreciation, and that the interest due in London $220,933.00 is stated at the par value payable in Sterling, which reduced to Confederate currency would swell the figures to an amount exceeding twice the whole earnings of the year.
   Some of the cars lost and destroyed were impressed by order of Lieut. Gen. Pemberton, and sent upon other roads, where they were broken or captured by the enemy, and it is therefore a legitimate item in the expenses of the year. The usual estimate of depreciation has not been made because it will be impossible during the continuance of the war to obtain many of the articles required to repair and rebuild the roadway and rolling stock, and therefore the cost cannot be stated with any degree of accuracy. This item was estimated in the last Annual Report in the currency for which the articles were purchased and, as the wear and tear progresses in a geometrical ration, it will be much larger for the year 1863.
   Comparing the earnings and expenses of 1862 with the past year, the following results will be obtained:
Receipts from Freight have increased $112,297.47
        "        "    Express have increased 24,971.46
        "        "    Passengers have decreased 395,345.80
        "        "     Mail have decreased 24,971.46
And a decrease in the aggregate of 268,612.70
   The decrease in the earnings was caused by the removal of the large army which occupied Corinth and Tupelo during eight months of the year 1862, the shorter length of the road operated, the restrictions placed upon the transportation of individual freight by the military authorities, and by the completion of the Railroad from Meridian to Selma.
   That Road was constructed with the means provided by the Confederate Government, and being the shortest line from Meridian, where the army was stationed, to the North and East, the Government gave transportation by it to the full extent of its capacity for troops and supplies moving northward, and sent by Mobile only such troops and heavy and unproductive freight as that Road could not carry.
The expenses for maintaining the Roadway have increased $97,070.07
         "                 Machinery                           "          " 130,578.98
         "                 Conducting transportation   "           " 216,190.34
     Making an aggregate of $443,839.39
   An analysis of the table of expenses (marked No. 2) and a comparison with the previous years, shows that the cost of mechanical labor, provisions, oil, coal, and every description of manufactured articles consumed in repairs, has increased in a much greater ration than other items of ordinary labor and materials obtained along the Road; and the prices of many of the essential supplies have already reached such figures, that, if they could be manufactured in the Confederate States, no company in the Confederate States could afford to reconstruct its Railroad, without levying a tariff of charges which would prohibit transportation. In illustration of this, it is only necessary to say that spikes, which originally cost one thirty-fifth of the superstructure, are at present prices equal to the cost of iron, joint fastenings, spikes, cross-ties, and laying of the track, and the same scale of prices extends through the whole list of manufactured articles, which are used in the construction of Railroads and their rolling stock. It is, therefore, apparent that no material improvement can be made in the Railroads of the Confederate States during the war, but, by careful management, slow speed, and with such assistance as the Government can and will render, their usefulness may be prolonged for several years.
   No interest has been more loyal or rendered more important services to the country and to the Government, and none has suffered so much from the effects of the war. A few of the main through lines, upon which there were no large armies concentrated, and over which the whole travel and commerce of the country has passed, whose trains were fully loaded in both directions, and the Roads worked to their utmost capacity, have declared large dividends and apparently made large profits, but it has been really at the expense of their capital stock. The Congress of the Confederate States in the passage of the recent Tax bill has (no doubt unintentionally) done this Company and its Stockholders, and others similarly situated, great injustice in taxing the whole capital stock and earnings, while one half of the Road is in the hands of the enemy, and entirely unproductive, and subject to destruction alike from friend and foe. Other interests are allowed to offsett this damage, and common justice requires that Railroads should be placed upon the same just basis.
   The recent destruction of the Road by the Federal army, and the great importance of repairing it at the earliest moment, made it necessary for myself and Assistants to remain upon the work at the time when the statistical information which usually accompanies the Annual Report is prepared, and explains the failure to present those tables.
    Although the damage done by these raids, does not legitimately belong to the past year, yet with a view to the preservation of all the facts, I beg to extract the following details from a special report made to the board upon this subject:
   "General Sherman entered Meridian on the 14th of February, and immediately detached a large portion of his force for the destruction of this Railroad, and they were energetically engaged in executing his orders until the evening of the 20th. One force came southward to the bridge over the Chickasaha river south of Quitman, and another went northward to a point half a mile north of Lauderdale Springs -- the distance between the extreme points being a little more than 48 miles. Within that distance they burned the warehouses, water fixtures, (except at Quitman station,) turntables, bridges, trestle-work and wooden culverts of any importance, and tore up 21 miles of the track (exclusive of turn-outs,) on 16 miles of which the cross-ties were reduced to ashes, and bent the heavy rails in every conceivable shape. There were two (2) Howe truss bridges over the Chickasaha and Okatibbee rivers, two spans of beam truss over the second crossing of the latter river, three-fourths (3/4) of a mile of trestle work from 12 to 25 feet in height, forty-three (43) smaller pieces and wooden culverts, six warehouses, two passenger buildings, four (4) water tanks and fixtures, two turn tables, and four turn-outs -- containing nearly three miles of track -- completely destroyed.
   Maj. Gen. Maury's order to rebuild the road is dated 23d February, and on the morning of the 24th the work was commenced at Quitman bridge with that part of our force south of the break which had not fled on the approach of the enemy. As't Superintendent Fresenius, who had been cut off above, with great promptness and energy collected the forces above and with a train of hand cars, came down and commenced about the same time, repairing southward from Lauderdale Springs. Lieut. Gen. Polk had detailed Maj. Geo. Whitfield with full authority to furnish the Company with everything necessary to complete the work in the shortest time, and sent two locomotives belonging to the Southern Railroad from McDowell's landing to Gainesville, to be transferred to our Road, and used in transporting negroes, materials and supplies required on the repairs.
   Maj. Whitfield arrived in Mobile from Selma on the 29th February, and after consultation deemed it impracticable to obtain the force (400 hands,) considered by me as necessary, except in the counties of Noxubee and Lowndes, which the enemy had not reached. Although extraordinary exertions were used, the time required in reaching those counties, in collecting the hands from so large a district of country, and in forwarding them to the work made it the 11th of March, before any of them reached the work.
   The Quitman bridge, one of the heaviest on the Road, was crossed in 8 days, and 7 days more were consumed in rebuilding about a half mile of the trestle work near the bridge and at Aligator Swamp, which it was necessary to finish before trains could be run up to the burned road. The completion of this bridge and trestle work removed all obstacles, and it became a question of how long it would require to straighten the rails, get out the cross-ties and relay 16 miles of track.
   The rails being to heavy and strong, all the patent appliances heretofore successfully used for straightening them, were found inadequate, and we were forced to resort to heat and negro power.
   It is almost impossible to make them perfectly straight, but they have been laid again, and make a safe track, but at a lower rate of speed than the former schedule.
   The two working parties labored with commendable energy and united the rails at noon of the 24th March, just 29 1/2 days from commencing the work, or 33 days after the departure of the Federal army, and 4 days of this time were lost by rain, making the actual working time 25 1/2 days. Regular passenger trains were resumed on the 28th between Mobile and Columbus.
   While this work was progressing so satisfactorily, a force of carpenters, which Maj. Whitfield had brought with him, were sent to rebuild the bridge over Tibbee river, which unfortunately had been destroyed by the military authorities, the construction of which was necessary to transport timber to rebuild the bridges and repair the track in the prairies, between West Point and Okolona, which had been burned by Gen. Smith. I believed when this force was sent to Tibbee bridge, that ample time was allowed for its reconstruction before the track below could be repaired, but the inexperience of the men in this kind of work, and a heavy freshet, so delayed it that but little was accomplished before the trains were run through to Columbus. The damage done between West Point and Okolona by Gen. Smith's forces consists in the destruction of all the warehouses, (5 in number,) 2 water stations, 33 pieces of trestle work and culverts, the tearing up the track at intervals and the burning of eight (8) cars. No damage was done above Okolona except the destruction of one small piece of trestle work. The bridge over Tibbee was completed on the 3d instant, the track finished to Okolona on the 11th, and regular passenger trains resumed on the 12th instant.
   Summing up -- the enemy passed over 80 miles of the Road, destroying 3 bridges over rivers, 3/4 of a mile of trestle work from 12 to 25 feet high, 76 smaller pieces and wooden culverts, 6 water tanks and fixtures, and tore up about 25 miles of the main track, besides about 5 miles of sidings, 18 miles of the iron of which was bent and the cross-ties all destroyed, and the Tibbee bridge, one of the heaviest on the Road, was burned by our military authorities. Notwithstanding rainy weather and freshets this work has been repaired in the short space of 48 days, and the regular business of the road resumed. These results are full of encouragement and establish the fact that bridges may be destroyed, Railroad tracks torn up, the cross-ties burned and the rails bent, yet while the rolling stock is preserved the time required for repairs is purely a question of well directed labor; in other words, that the track and fixtures however badly destroyed can be rebuilt with resources at the command of every road in the Confederate States, when aided by the Government.
   I append a copy of an order issued by the order of Maj. Gen. Lee, detailing a force to destroy all our cars found between Marion Station and Okolona. This force destroyed between Lauderdale Springs and Tibbee, twenty-eight (28) cars (and broke the wheels) which had been left on the sidings out of order, and could not under any circumstances have been used by the enemy, if he had reached that country and they cannot be replaced during the war.
   And I respectfully recommend the Board to take action to protest against the destruction of the Company's property by the Confederate forces, which if continued on the approach of the enemy as heretofore, will soon result in stopping the Road.
   In every evacuation and retreat from Columbus, Ky., down to the recent raids, bridges, trestle work and cars which under no conceivable circumstances could have been used by the enemy, have been destroyed by our own forces, -- and in every case the folly of it has been made apparent in a few days, and the Company asked to rebuild the work. And so universal has become this custom, that subordinate officers, on the approach of the enemy, make immediate arrangements for the destruction of Railroad property.
   In the recent raid the fuel was collected for the destruction of the fine bridge at Columbus, on which, in my judgment, the enemy could not cross his army, or if that was practicable under any circumstances, it could have been rendered impossible by simply turning the draw around on the Columbus side, which would have left an opening of ninety feet in width; and bridges at other points were spared only from the earnest appeals of citizens and officers of the Company.
   It is due to Lieut. Gen. Polk to say that I was assured by him just previous to the evacuation of Meridian that he had decided not to destroy provisions or Railroad property, and I am satisfied that the cars and the Tibbee bridge were not destroyed by his orders. Maj. George Whitfield, who was detailed at my request, by Gen. Polk, remained upon the work until the regular trains were commenced, and by great energy concentrated upon it, the labor and supplies which enabled us to complete it within so short a time. I have seen no officer in the service who labors with more zeal and fidelity, for the interest of the Government, or who has a higher appreciation of the value of Railroads to the Government and the people.
   Having been in the work, I cheerfully bear testimony to the untiring energy of the Assistant Superintendent and all of the employees of the Company who were engaged in the repairs.
   When all labored so faithfully, it would be unjust to the others to commend any one by name.
Very respectfully, your ob't serv't.
L. J. Fleming
Chief Eng. and Gen'l Superintendent
{Order referred to is MISC, M&O 2-15-64}