NA, ENG 4/4/1863

Engineer Bureau
Richmond, Apl 4th 1863
Genl R. E. Bide
Commanding Div: A. N. V.
Dear General,
   The Hon Secy of War has referred to this Bureau an application for a loan of $700,000 from the N. E. & S. W. Alabama RR with the following series of questions.
1. To state the military advantage of the work
2. Its advantages as furnishing an easy access to the mineral region of Ala, & the value of that region as a source of supply.
3. Whether an advance of $700,000 could be secured to the Confederate States?
4. Whether the advantages to be realized afford a fair equivalent to that advance?
   Before attempting any replies, it has occurred to me to consult you as, from your recent connection with the road as its Chief Engr you have had every opportunity to form enlightened opinions.
   The nicest point to decide is perhaps, whether it would be judicious to direct from agriculture at this time, so much of the negro labor of that part of the country in consideration of the extension of transportation facilities, than raising of its supplies a larger section
   In this hope that you may find them {time?} to express your views at an early day,
I remain
Very truly Yours
A. L. Rives
Maj & Asst to Chf Engr