NA, ENG 11/6/1862

Engineer Bureau
November 6th, 1862
Hon. Geo. W. Randolph
Sec. of War
   I have to acknowledge the reference to me for consideration & report of a contract proposed to be entered into by A. S. Maxwell on the one hand, and the Confederate States on the other, for the re-construction of the Decatur and Bean {Bear?} Creek bridges on the Memphis & Charleston R. Rd.:
   The contract is very badly drawn up and the length of bridging, specifically 12,020 feet, evidently erroneous. The correct length is probably 2,020 feet. Mr. Maxwell's proposition is to build the bridge as cheaply as possible, demanding 20 per cent on expenditures for his compensation, with the proviso however, that the total cost, including his 20 per cent, shall not exceed $75.00 per lineal foot -- in all 2020 x 75  = $151,500, which is the highest figure to be attained in any event.
   The principal objection to the contract is that it is clearly to Mr. Maxwell's interest to make the cost of constructing the bridge exactly $126,250 -- neither more nor less, for if to this maximum amount we add 20 per cent $25,250 for compensation the total is $151,500. Another objection is that the term transportation &c of materials is used vaguely. It should be distinctly specified that this transportation is only river or rail road transportation, on rivers actually navigated by boats in Government service, and on roads actually in working order, and engaged in transportation for the Government. Without such specifications the word transportation might be made to cover handling and collecting materials.
   Still another objection is that while Mr. Maxwell bids himself to construct the bridges in a fixed time and for a maximum sum no penalties are attached, and no bonds given.
   It is therefore respectfully suggested that a clear contract for a definite sum be fixed upon, and the papers drawn up by an experienced lawyer; should the General commanding the Depart. decide the reconstruction of these bridges judicious, in the present condition of military proposals in that region. In my opinion the necessary expense should not be drawn home by the Engineer Appropriation. You may judge by precedent such expenditures properly belong to the Quarter Master Dept. Should you desire it, an officer of the Engineer Corps of the Western Dept. will be ordered to examine into and report upon a suitable contract for re-building these bridges. Maj. Genl. Saml. Jones' letter of Oct. 20th '62 enclosing proposed contract with Mr. Maxwell is herewith returned. 
Very Respectfully Your Obt Svt
A. F. Gilmer
Col. Eng.