NA, CS 10/29/1864

Columbus, October 29th 1864
Major S. B. French
Richmond VA
   I am thus far on my homeward journey, which I resume this evening. It was well I think that I went to Mobile. I had full interviews with Major Walker then and gave him such instructions as would in my opinion promote the great object of my mission. I urged him to set his agents to work in hunting up all the bacon in his state and to resort to impressment when necessary to secure it. The crop of peas in Alabama is large. They have been neglected from the fact that the Army of Tennessee would not use them. He will proceed at once to gather in all he can & ship to Richmond where both your troops & hospitals will be glad to get them.
   Transportation from Montgomery continues as embarrassed as I found it last May. The narrow gauge road, the West Point & Montgomery, is the only channel, and there has been no material increase in rolling stock or motive power, tho' Col Sims is now making arrangements to add two engines to the latter. He tells me that existing evil cannot be continued without having absolute control of the roads of the country, and this is I apprehend altogether beyond the power of the Government. The fact is our want of a man of more force to take charge of the transportation barecaux. And if he could only be allowed the use of the Naval Work Shops here, he could soon supply the country with cars & engines enough to meet to a great extent its requirements for transportation. And another channel could be opened by extending a road from Montgomery to Union Springs, which is already graded for the most part & as Major Walker informs me supplied with iron, the distance is only 40 miles.
   The universal opinion wherever I have been, is that the laws appointing corn ess?? of staks to establish prices & authorizing impressments should be repealed. Major Mons has just issued a circular to his District commissioners to abide by the award of appraisers or arbitrators when that award conformed to a fair market value as the Act of Congress and the decision of the Supreme Court of this state look to "just compensation" as the equivalent the owner should receive in meeting the requirements of the government. To refer the award to the commissioners would be the equivalent about to no appeal. There are leading men in this state, the Honble Genl Toombs among them, who have been making speeches to the people endeavoring to sway them against the government & advising them to shoot the impressing officer whenever he should appear among them.
   Major Allen has advised you through Major Claiborne of his recent shipments of bacon, he will forward next week one hundred thousand pds {6 1/2 car loads} more, & Major Mons awaits your orders with regard to shipping to Richmond some 69000 lbs {4 1/2 car loads} that Major Cummings has here. I take for granted your orders will be forthcoming.
   Genl Hood is believed to be in Tuscumbia today and will be independent of this region of country for his supplies.
Very Respectfully
W H Smith
Major & CS