NA, MAXWELL 12/29/1864

Demopolis, 29th Dec. 1864
Col. G. W. Brent
A. A. Genl.
   ??? Colonel, I was ordered by the Engineer Bureau at Richmond to contract with R. R. Co. {Alabama & Mississippi Rivers RR} to bridge the Tombigbee River; the Government to do the work, for which the R. R. Co. is eventually to reimburse the Government.
   In accordance with this order I contracted in March last, with A. L. Maxwell to do the work for the Government, he agreeing ????? and material and devote his personal attention to this work; for which ????? to recover a certain per cent on its cost, ??? the work, the Government purchased saw mills & ????? & tools & Maxwell failing to ??? a sufficiency of hands, labor & mechanics, the Government hired additional negroes, detailed mechanics and sent them to this work. Recently I received an order from you to ????? (a ??? of this detailed labor) to Major ??field at Corinth for ??? work on the M&O R. Rd and I also ordered Maxwell to send hands on the 24th Dec. all the negroes (with ?????) which the Government had hired, that being the day on which their leave of him transpired and instructed him to notify their owners and ????? had hired, that after that date he would not pay over thirty dollars per month, as I could supply their places with impressed negroes at fifteen dollars per month. Upon receiving this order, he came to my office and stated that he could not go on with the work; complaining that I had ordered the Government hired negroes home and had ordered the ??ing force of detailed mechanics to Corinth and had had the mechanics, furnished by the Government detailed to report to me instead of himself and other f?? complaints of the same kind; claiming that the Government had no right to order men away when  once detailed for that work, & no right to send negroes away which they had hired & stated that he should go to Genl. Beauregard & tell him that he would not proceed with this work under my management.
   Though the issue is mismanagement of his since they f???, one of the c?? of the bridge to escape & float down the river and he complained that it was in consequence of having impressed negroes to work with when in truth he had at that time all the negroes hired by himself and by the Government under his control -- none having ??? and ??? off at that date. The ????? with his own self importance and so insolent that has even assumed to dictate to the Government the right of withholding detailed men for ??? the a?? ????? at times and to do any the sight of withdrawing any personal negro labor, which the Government may have placed on the work. The true cause of his dis??? is the curb I have placed on his ??kle for extravagance. Being paid ??? certain per cent, he prefers to hire negroes at forty five or fifty dollars per month and ??? the ????? negroes at fifteen dollars per month. And his objection to having the men detailed to me instead of to himself is that on one occasion Genl. Taylor ordered me to have two telegraph masts erected at the bridge. I requested his agent to have it done -- he refused. I then ordered Saunders, whom I had detailed to work at the bridge to do it and this he complained of as an interference with his men. Now the fact is, Maxwell has ??? neglected this work and left it to agents which have worked with bad judgment while he reposed in comfortable quarters at Macon Georgia, 350 miles away -- he not having spent more than three or four weeks on the work since March, the date of the contract, and with all the repeated remonstrances I have made to him, have not been able to get him to give it his personal attention as he contracted to do.
   I should not trouble you with these affairs had he not said he would make complaint to Genl. Beauregard and as he will doubtless make ????? I know it due to ??? to appraise you of the facts. Maxwell has assembled Military ??? so far as the ??? of building bridges by contract with the Government. He should now be made to execute his contract in good faith or be ordered to go into the army. 
Minor Meriwether
Lt. Col. Engrs.