NA, ENG 9/5/1863

Engineer Bureau
Sept. 5, 1863
J. W. Lapsley Esq.
Selma, Alabama
   Your letter of the 6th ult. addressed to the Hon. Secretary of War, representing the importance of the Rail Road connection between Blue Mountain & Rome and urging that iron be supplied by the Government for its speedy completion, has been received & forwarded to this Bureau for reply.
   The Bureau assents to the force of your observations on the Military & national importance of the Alabama & Tennessee River R. R. The reasons, which you urge for the immediate completion of the last unfinished link in the great line of internal communication between Virginia & Mississippi, are such as would, at all times, have commanded attention & in?? cooperation & especially at this time, when speedy & secure intercourse between the various sections of the Confederacy is more than ever a matter of importance. The estimate of the appropriation necessary to complete it, originated in this Bureau & was submitted to the Hon. Sec. of War, approved by his Excellency the President, recommended by him to Congress & formally adopted by that Body. As it is feared that the Government will be unable, for the present at least, to furnish the iron required for the completion of the road in question, the Company should have recourse to other sources of supply. The money for the purchase of iron, as well as to meet the current expenses of the road, will continue, as heretofore, to be furnished by Capt. L. P. Grant Corps of Engers. P. A. C. S. on the requisition of the company charged with the construction, from the funds appropriated by Congress so long as any of it remains.
   Your letter has raised in one point, a misapprehension of the action's motives of the Government, which it is very important to correct. 
   The iron to be obtained by removing the track from the Cahaba, Marion & Greensboro {RR} Branch, from the Newbern Branch {North Western RR of Alabama} & from the Gainesville Branch {the Mississippi, Gainesville & Tuscaloosa RR}, was not intended to be applied to the laying down of the track of the North & South Alabama R. R. {South & North Alabama RR} but, if ultimately removed, it will be used to repair the main truck lines of the Confederacy. For the present however the removal of the iron from these Branch Roads has been suspended by special orders from the War Department. A letter, setting forth more fully the facts of the case & the views of the Bureau, was addressed by me on yesterday to the Hon. Sec. of War, in returning to him a communication from Judge Thomas A. Walker which had been referred to this Bureau.
Very resply
Your obdt. Servant
A. L. Rives
Lt. Col. & actg chf Bur.