OR, Series 1, Vol. 17, Part 2, Page 625

Headquarters Department No. 2
Tupelo
June 26, 1862
 
General S. Cooper
Adjutant and Inspector General
 
General,
   I have to acknowledge the receipt of a telegraph dispatch from the Secretary of War, dated the 21st instant, touching the completion of the railroad connection between Meridian, Miss., and Selma, Ala. That connection is one of such vital military necessity, and so immediately affecting military operations in the department intrusted to me, that I feel it my duty to communicate frankly my views for the information and consideration of the department.
   The papers accompanying, marked A, B, and C, will show conclusively how little the company {the Alabama & Mississippi Rivers RR}, unfortunately invested with the privilege of completing this all-important work, have done toward the execution of their contract. Since the passage of the act there has been ample time, under a vigorous management, for the construction of the railroad as far as represented practicable at present by the eminent engineer sent by me to carry out what I regarded as the spirit of the act, the intention of Congress, and what I knew to be required for the public defense.
   At a time when the Memphis & Charleston Railroad is in possession of the enemy a rail connection of this character is pregnant with too many advantages in military operations to be left to the mortgaged means of a small and unreliable railroad corporation. To trust the work to such feeble, inefficient hands may result in incalculable mischief. And in view of impending military conditions, I earnestly protest against the inevitable delay that must and the irreparable injury that may ensue if they are relied on.
   I would appeal to the spirit of the act of Congress recognizing the military necessity for the immediate completion of this unfinished link in our interior line of railroads. Congress assuredly aimed to have that completion made as soon as possible; but, misinformed and misled, doubtless gave the work to a railroad company as the means best calculated to that end, for certainly the legislature of the country could never be brought to such prostitution as that of intentionally giving a job to a corporation.
   I would therefore carry out the spirit of the act in question. I would have no more precious days, weeks, or months wasted with this incapable company -- would wait not a moment longer for the execution of mortgage contracts; for meantime it may be too late for all practical purposes. Mobile may fall after the manner of water-approached places. Our lines of communication with the east would then be cut off, and the true expectations of Congress be frustrated.
   I cannot present in too strong language the mischief that must result from further reliance on this company. By their past failure they ought to be judged, and the work should at once be carried on by the Government, under military control from these headquarters, by engineers knowing the resources of the country and by none other.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
[Braxton Bragg}

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