NA, RRB 12/20/1864

Transportation Office
Selma Ala Dec 20, 1864
Lt Col F. W. Sims Qr Mr
& Chief of RRd Bureau
   Your favor of the 15th ult just received, and in reply must say that disagree with you in the construction of Genl Polk's order to Maj Whitfield. He orders him to rebuild the road and authorizes him to make use of all sorts of Govt property, & Govt power and authority to execute the order, and all of which were necessary to that object. The RRoads had nothing and could get nothing in and of themselves and had no power or authority to get it, and I cant find in any order of Genl Polk any intimation that the Roads should pay the expenses of reconstruction; and the very order of itself carries full evidence that he intended the Govt should pay the expenses. First He had no power to order the company to rebuild the road. 2nd When he did order, as he had a right to do, a Govt officer to do the work how could that order be executed without Govt money or Govt credit, and Third. The Rail Road officers had positively refused to rebuild their road, and that from necessity, stating that "The Govt had suffered the enemy to destroy them & if they rebuilt them at their own expense the same thing would in all probability, occur again. That if the Govt would pay the expenses they would do all in their power with all their available forces to aid in carrying out the order." And furthermore take away the Govt driving them was nothing to do and if Govt Polk wanted the road for his own use he must through his agent rebuild it, then they (the roads) had no use for them except to serve the Country, and the Country must do the work, for however much they were disposed they could not do it. 
   These are some thing like the replying of the Rail Road officers, and Genl Polk as a just man as I knew him to be gave the order, and knowing him as I did and having had so many talks with him alone and also with Tate, Whitfield and Genl Polk when altogether, upon the subject, that I know what was his intention if the order did not as fully state it as did the order of Genl Maury.
   The papers herewith returned are as I have upon which to make a decision that will relieve some of your s??ty of very heavy responsibility, and I say to you now, candidly, that if it is decided that all the payments that were performed by me by command of Lt Genl Polk, are illegal, I would advise the Qr Mr Genl to commence service against my securities at once for I honestly confess that I could not pay the debt or even try.
   I hope that some decision will be made in the matter. I am daily anxious for the money ??? I am th?? ??? and when ????? It is a matter of deep regret to all of us here that we have been so long neglected & left to do public service on private audit and so many claims returning disapproving the action of the officer. I really feel that should this matter be disapproved that with the return paper my order dropping me from the rolls would accompany them.
   I am Col Very Respectfully Your
Humble obt Sevt
Thos. Peters
Maj & Q. M.
{On back of the letter}
Richmond Jany 5/ 1865
Respectfully returned to Major Thomas Pike whose attention is again called to the order of General Polk of May 19th, 1864 by which he will find the M&Ohio RRd is to pay for the Iron used in repairing that road, the Conflictary nature of the orders requires further information before the Govt. can entertain the claim.
F W Sims
Lt Col & QM