NA, SWR 8/1/1863

To The Honorable the Secretary of War of the Confederate States
   Your petitioners, citizens of Selma and of Green and Perry Counties, consisting of Directors, of Stockholders, of the North Western Rail Road Company of Alabama and of individuals whose business interests have intimately connected them with said Road would respectfully present this their petition in behalf of the same
   Your petitioners have learned that a proposition has been or will be submitted to your Honorable Department to take the iron off from the said road under the plea of Government necessity for the purpose of continuing or building some other road. Your petitioners hope by a plain and truthful statement of some of the facts demonstrating the great Government utility and advantage of this Road to satisfy your Honorable Department that it would be highly impolite and injurious to the interest of the Government to discontinue the same and they hereby respectfully urge that the said Road shall not be disturbed.
   The North Western Rail Road is a Branch of the Alabama & Mississippi Rivers Rail Road 11 miles in length leading from Uniontown in Perry County to New Bern in Green County. Its whole line lies through, and its terminus (at New Bern) is surrounded for many miles by one of the most highly productive regions in the State or in the Confederacy being the best Canebrake prairie and slough lands.
   But while the section is so highly fertile such is the character of its soil, becoming so extremely miry and boggy when wet, that during the winter and spring months, it is next to impossible to haul produce from New Bern in any direction in wagons. Nor can the bad condition of our roads be much improved by any amount of labor expended. From New Bern to the nearest point on the Bigbee River is about 13 miles and it is about the same distance to Uniontown the nearest point on the Ala & Miss Rivers Rail Road.
   These are the most accessible points and during the winter and spring the only time when planters can spare their teams from the field for hauling transportation to those points over the common roads is almost impracticable. It was in view of this very great inconvenience in our section that the North Western Rail Road was constructed. But we know that no personal inconvenience to muscles shall stand in the way of the stern wants of the Government and it is entirely upon the necessity of this Road to the Government that we rely for a favorable consideration of our petition.
   The Confederate Government now owns several thousand bales of cotton in and around New Bern which it will be almost impossible to forward without the Rail Road. Nor are our planters under obligation to deliver said cotton at any other point than New Bern as in every contract of sale it was stipulated to be delivered at that depot. In addition to this the Confederate tax in kind to be collected in the vicinity of New Bern will be enormously large which will require the daily transportation upon Rail Road for many months in order to be promptly forwarded. It will be impossible for planters to haul their large amount of tax produce either to the Bigbee river or to the Ala  Miss Rivers Road without so exhausting their teams and encroaching upon their necessary farming operations as to prevent their ensuing years crop. That your Department may appreciate the great labors of this hauling we would here state that there are numbers of planters in the vicinity of New Bern whose corn tax will be from 2000 to 5000 bushels each.
   It would certainly be extremely difficult to transport such amounts of produce by hauling over roads that are frequently impassible to an empty wagon. But in addition to this large tax for which transportation is to be provided we would respectfully represent that out of the abundance which is produced in that Egypt the Government by means of the aforesaid rail road might supply to a considerable extent any deficiency of its wants in breadstuff for our army. During the past and present years New Bern Depot has been a vast granary constantly filled with supplies for the Government and for many destitute portions of the state. It has been for some time impossible to procure sufficient cars to remove the deposits collected there so abundant and rapid has been the accumulation and a great deal of corn has badly damaged by being exposed along the Rail Road line. This year the accumulation must be much greater as planters have produced almost exclusively bread stuffs and the crops are extraordinarily good. But owing to so much of our country being near overrun every bushel of corn raised in Ala. will be in demand if not for the Government, for the thousands of refugees who have left an abundance at home to rely upon the abundance of strangers.
   We would respectfully represent that owing to the contracted area of our production there must be an active demand for all the breadstuffs made and that every line of transportation should be kept up that leads in the direction of an abundant supply.  Aug. 1 1863
{Signed by about 150 names}