NA, QM 12/10/1864

Meridian Miss Dec 10/64
Lt. Col. F. W. Sims
Chf R. R. Bureau
Richmond Va.
   News is the depots south have been ordered evacuated. I came down last night from Corinth & will remain until the work is over should it be necessary. 
   The movement of Genl Hood's army to Tuscumbia Ala was made without any notice whatever having been given either to me or the Rail Roads. I knew nothing of it until the stores were being hauled to the depot at Blue Mtn. I hurried over to this place & procured negroes to work the Mobile {& Ohio} & Memphis & Charleston R. Rd. This work had not ????? {paper torn} once or twice & then when we sent five trains to Cherokee for Genl Forrest I had to send a construction train with 60 negroes to repair the road before it was safe to run the trains even at a very slow rate of speed & the road not having been used for so long a time had grown up with weeds, briars & grass with much if not all the ties rotten & the bridges dangerous. The above was the condition of affairs when the movement of stores to Genl Hood's army began. I am happy to say that we worked it all over as rapidly as they were ready to and no blame can be attached to your Dept having ????? our whole only even with the broken down rolling stock & other obstacles over part of the road was frantically done. As it is clearly not ????? duty of your officers & ????? never the less whenever any road ????? is destroyed by the enemy. I am ordered to do repair it & have never been furnished with proper facilities for doing it. I write to ask if it meets with your views & approval that you will get an order from the Sety of War for me to get up a regular force for the purpose of repairing Rail Roads under my direction & when not in ??? for work on Rail Roads that I can turn them over to be worked in any of the Dept for the mutual benefit of the Govt. I could then pay off the extra negroes furnish them with clothing & rations regularly. The negroes & white men I have worked on Rail Roads have been badly clothed & fed & never paid. This was because it was dependent upon the Medical Directors for medical attention to the Commissary for provisions & on other officers for clothing & paying the men.
   If I had a regular organized force with tools & every other thing necessary I could at a day's notice be at work on any destroyed road & get the cars to going in a very short time.
   If the above meets with your approval I wish the authority to get up the force of such men as I may select who are already Detailed & have been worked in Rail Roads by me & with powers to detail others & hire negro carpenters. The carpenter force to be at least 40 men one half of which are to be negroes with one foreman, another force of 60 negroes with four foremen for track laying, the above even when not actually employed by me to be hired to rail roads or worked by other other officers to be delivered to me at a moments notice. By this assignment they will be always kept at working profitably used. I would rather do the work regularly & be always prepared whenever Rail Roads ????? The above numbers of men would at ??? since ??? for work at any time ????? myself could repair almost ????? our district wherever cut by the enemy ????? the same time to the management ????? as to the proper running of trains & management of transportation matters generally. I know this would give us plenty to do but I had rather do more than my duty & do it satisfactorily than do as I am now doing on the Memphis & Charleston RR. I am trying to rebuild that road from Chewalla to Decatur about 60 miles & have but eleven carpenters & one hundred & seventy five captured negroes all ????? & entirely without shoes & cannot get either more ??? or clothing or other necessary supplies for these hands. The negroes & carpenters were loaned to me by the Engr Dept & they have failed so far to get them provided for.   
   If you sanction my ????? work such an order as will allow me to collect any men not now actually in the ranks with authority to have others detailed if approved by the Genl Comdg the Dept & with authority to call upon surgeons for medical treatment & to ??? & take care of any men in hospital & for Quarter masters & Commissaries to furnish me with supplies & rations. Please let me hear from you on this subject at your earliest convenience if approved & sanctioned by you & Seaty of war & I will go to work at once & organize my force & get up all necessary supplies. I expect to be most of the time for the next month either at Corinth or on the Memphis & Charleston R. R. but all letters addressed to me at Meridian will reach me.
Your obat servt
George Whitfield
Maj & Qr Mr