AR, M&O 4/1/1866 P

Annual Report of the Mobile & Ohio RR
as of April 1, 1866,
President's Report
To the Stockholders of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad Company:
   The president and directors of your company present the following


   As the mariner, who has been driven and tossed by winds and waves until hope is nearly extinguished, embraces the first moment of calm to take a reckoning of where he is, and calculates the chances of finally reaching the shore, so we, at the close of the late destructive war, took a reckoning of where we were and calculated the chances of saving the great enterprise committed to our charge.
   At the commencement of the war the company was in good condition -- had inspired universal confidence at home and abroad, and had ample resources to meet all its engagements. The road, in its progress to completion, had met and overcame opposition of the greatest magnitude. In the State of Mississippi it had been opposed by the friends of a rival road from New Orleans; in Tennessee, it had met the violent opposition of the enterprising and energetic city of Memphis. The great length of the road, passing through sections of country having no previous business or commercial connection with each other, gave to these rival interests an opportunity of playing  on the passions and prejudices of particular localities, and throwing obstacles in the way of its progress. Towns and villages a short distance from the track of the road put themselves in hostility to it because it did not change its location and send its cars directly to their doors. When the company was compelled to apply to the legislatures of the several States through which the road was located for necessary legislation to aid its completion, we were constantly met by opposition from these local and rival interests.
   But by energy and perseverance this great road was completed; and on the 22d of April, 1861, when the last rail was laid in the track, the company had a road of the first class, built in the most substantial manner, with rails and fastenings and other materials unsurpassed in the United States, and supplied with rolling stock amply sufficient to meet all the requirements of its extensive business. From the resources then at our command, estimating the future earnings of the road at figures below what we had a right to expect, it was safe to calculate that, within two years from the completion of the road, we would commence the payment of dividends on our stock, having first taken up our floating liabilities, and from the sale of lands and a portion of our annual earnings, set apart for the purpose, provide for a sinking fund sufficient to extinguish our funded debt before maturity. From the time of our successful negotiations in London down to the completion of the road all our financial calculations had been fully sustained, and we had far more reason to expect success in the future than we had had in the past.
   But the war came, and the company has suffered largely by it. The confederate government controlled the transportation of the road, and we were occupied chiefly in transporting men and supplies for the army. In this way the confederate government became our debtors, including bonds, &c., as will be seen by reference to the annexed tables, in the sum of $4,983,871.23. A part of this was due long before the close of the war, but we were not able to collect it because of alleged want of means of payment. Add to this, over fifty negroes, costing $119,691, and Alabama State bonds, since declared void, being issued for purposes of the war, $125,000, and it makes the round sum in confederate currency of $5,228,562.23 -- all of which was lost to this company.
   But our losses did not stop with a failure to get pay for services which we were, by military orders, compelled to perform. All our bridges, trestle-work, warehouses, and station buildings, between Union City, in Tennessee, and Okolona, in Mississippi, a distance of 184 miles, were destroyed. General Sherman's raid to Meridian destroyed, north and south opf that place, all the warehouses, water stations, bridges, and trestle-work on 48 miles, and on 21 miles of that distance he bent and, as far as possible, destroyed the rails and fastenings. From a full supply of rolling stock of the finest quality we were reduced to one-fourth of what was necessary, and that was in bad condition. Our repair shop at Jackson, Tennessee, was broken up; and on the evacuation of Mobile, the stationary engine and tools in the shops at Whistler were destroyed. We had, at the close of the war, neither tools nor material to repair our little remaining rolling stock, and keep it on the track.
   Our earnings or 1864, including express and mails, were $3,674,498.99. Our expenses, $2,281,596.38; leaving a net revenue of $1,392,902.11.
   Our earnings from January 1, 1865, to May 1, 1865, when confederate money ceased to be current, were $1,183,220.42. Our expenses were $906,663.84; leaving a net revenue of $376,536.58.
   The expenses during the periods referred to were greatly increased by the extraordinary repairs made necessary from injuries inflicted by the contending armies.
   Soon after the commencement of the war, we purchased in the name of George Peabody & Co., of London, 2,894 bales of cotton, to be shipped to Liverpool, to pay the coupons on our sterling bonds payable in London, intending, if successful in getting the cotton out, to continue such purchases and shipments, to meet all our obligations in London and elsewhere punctually. Messrs. Peabody & Co. were advised of the purchase, and that the British consul in this city had been requested to regard the cotton as under the protection of his flag; and they were requested to apply to the United States government for permission to ship the cotton, and the hope and belief was expressed that, if this consent was obtained, the Confederate States government would allow the cotton to go out. Messrs. Peabody & Co. wrote us in reply, that it was impossible to obtain permission from the United States, and therefore they declined taking the responsibility of the agency or control of the cotton, and advised and directed us to appropriate it as the best interests of the company might require -- expressing their high appreciation of our efforts to meet our engagements and sustain our credit, and assuring us that the bondholders would be satisfied with whatever we deemed it best to do under the adverse circumstances that surrounded us.
   Subsequently we purchased 799 more bales of cotton, making in all 3,693 bales. Of this we lost 870 bales by fire and theft during the war. *****
   Respectfully submitted:
Milton Brown
President Mobile & Ohio Railroad Company