NA, ENG 9/4B/1863

Engineer Bureau
Sept. 4, 1863
Hon. James A. Seddon
Secretary of War
      I have the honor to return the enclosed communication from Judge Thomas A. Walker, Presdt. of the Alabama & Tennessee {River} R. R. with favorable endorsement from Gen. Jos. E. Johnston & others, urging upon the Department the extreme military importance of the proposed Blue Mountain & Rome connection & the propriety of furnishing iron for its completion. The importance of the proposed road, second only to that of the Danville & Greensboro connection {the Piedmont RR} , has been always acknowledged & repeatedly urged by this Bureau. It was upon an estimate prepared here that the appropriation was made by Congress for its construction. But whilst extremely anxious to promote the speedy completion of the Road proposed, the difficulty of furnishing the iron necessary, appears to be very great, & the Government has uniformly refused to bind itself to deliver it. It is inclined therefore that no assurances can be given in regard to supplying promptly the iron called for by Judge Walker, especially as the removal of the iron from the Marion {Cahaba, Marion & Greensboro RR}, the Gainesville {Mississippi, Gainesville & Tuscaloosa RR} & the Newbern Branch {of the Alabama & Mississippi Rivers RR} Roads has been suspended for special reasons, by the direction of the War Department. 
   A letter from Col. C. F. M. Garnett, commissioner for the removal of Railroad iron etc. of which I have the honor to enclose herewith a copy, discusses the possibility of furnishing the necessary iron for the construction of the Blue Mountain & Rome connection.
Very Respectfully
Your obdt. Servant
A. L. Rives
Lt. Col. & actg chf Bur.