NA, RR 12/3/1861

Richmond Dec 3d 1861
Hon J P Benjamin
Secy of War
Dear Sir,
   In conformity to your instructions given to me on the 22d of November, I have commenced to have the line of Telegraph between Mobile and Meridian put up. Today our Genl Superintendent, Mr J R Dowell, who was ordered to attend to the work received the enclosed dispatch from the Agent (Mr Turner) who was sent to attend to the delivering of the posts.
   By this dispatch I learn that the Supt of the Rail Road {Mobile & Ohio RR}, (Mr Fleming) undertakes to say that the line shall not be built and that he will burn the posts as soon as they are delivered.
   I am at a loss to understand why he is threatening to take this course for I cannot conceive how the location of a line of Telegraph along the Rail Road can in any way injure his interests, or prevent him if he thinks proper to do so, from building one for his own use if he does not elect to user our wire.
   I have instructed the Agent to go on and carry out the orders I received from you without delay. If the threats announced by Mr Fleming are carried out, I may have to ask the protection of the Government in executing this order.
Very Respectfully
Your Obedient Sevt
Wm S. Morris  Prest
South Telg Cos
Attached telegram:
Southern Telegraph Form
Received at                   Dc 4 186     at      o'clock     minutes
By Telegraph from Mobile Ala to J R Dowell
   I succeeded in making contracts for posts for half way on as reasonable terms as possible to be delivered by 15th inst at that point I was informed by Fleming none should be delivered on the road by any one & if so they should be burnt as fast as delivered at Winchester(?) I hurried back with Judge Brown who was on the train & who talks more liberal than any one else & is to have a meeting of his Board tomorrow to determine so nothing defeats but will allow no one to occupy the road without his consent not even the military. I deem it much better to wait his decision before anything more is done.
W Tanner