OR, Series 1, Vol. 31, Part 3, Page 787

December 5, 1863
Maj. Minor Meriwether
Corps of Engineers, Commanding, etc
  I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 22d ultimo; I fully agree with you as to the advisability of making the Lawton and Live Oak railroad connection, and of its decided superiority to that proposed from Tallahassee to the Chattahoochee, for the reasons urged in your letter, but principally on account of the rapidity with which it can be realized. The honorable Secretary of War is fully alive to the importance of the work, and Colonel Garnett, your colleague, is in frequent communication with him on the subject. In case the companies alluded to by you refuse to lay the track, the honorable Secretary of War, I think, is disposed to take into serious consideration your proposition to "lay the track on Government account, reserving the right to use it during the war, and sell or remove the iron at the will of the Government." I have not, however, secured the Secretary's definite opinion on the subject as yet, as he evidently greatly prefers that the undertaking should be in the hands of a company, and has directed Colonel Garnett to press on the negotiation.
  Major Sims, of the quartermaster's department and superintendent of railroad transportation, is attending a meeting of railroad men in Georgia at this time, and has promised to give his personal attention to the subject of the removal of the railroad iron from Tebeauville. Colonel Garnett thinks that his exertions will be crowned with success.
  It is for the commission to judge when it is proper to proceed in the removal of iron from any of the condemned roads; but as a matter of policy I deem it best to secure instructions when to proceed from the honorable Secretary of War, as such a course will secure his hearty co-operation and give special weight to your proceedings. As Colonel Garnett is on duty in this city, such a course can scarcely be productive of appreciable delay. In the case of the Macon & Brunswick Railroad, as you have probably learned from you colleague, the Secretary had decided upon a temporary suspension, principally on account of the commissary stores, fuel and timber transported over the road. The information you obtained in Macon in regard to the losses sustained by the Government in the exchange of new for old railroad iron does not surprise me, as the rumors in regard to the agent connected with those exchanges had fully prepared me for some such result. The proper rates of exchange, I would suggest, should be determined in consultation with the Niter and Mining Bureau, which is charged with the great iron interests of the country. This might be done by telegram to prevent delay, should there be need for prompt action.
  I am pleased to hear of your high estimate of Mr. Tate, and trust that the connection at Demopolis, under his auspices, may be rapidly pushed to completion. Cannot the bridge across the Tombigbee be more rapidly constructed than your letter would seem to indicate? As the bottom is of rock (so represented, at least) could not rough but strong cribs be placed and filled with stone, and on them a lighter superstructure, which would answer a temporary purpose, and be susceptible of prompt construction? Not being at all familiar with the streams in your section of the country, nor of the character of the freshets on the Tombigbee, I make these suggestions in all modesty. In regard to the construction of the Pearl River bridge and the railroad connection at Jackson, I am anxious that you should turn your personal attention to them as far as the other duties of your position will admit. I have written to Lieutenant-Colonel Lockett, informing him that the bureau fully approved of his suggestion to place those latter matters under your control.
  In the present situation of affairs in the vicinity of Chattanooga, I do not think it is prudent to press the completion of the construction between Jacksonville, Ala., and Rome Ga.
  Your employment of a clerk is authorized.
  Your commission, as well as a pass from the Secretary of War, as also authorization to call on quartermasters for transportation, was forwarded sometime since by Colonel Garnett, and has, I presume, been received by this time.
  I have made a requisition in your favor for $10,000, which will be placed to your credit in Montgomery, Ala., to meet current expenses.
  When traveling on duty and away from your station, your expenses are allowed. Inclosed I send the order of the Adjutant and Inspector General relating to the subject, which will be your Guide (General Orders, No. 49, Paragraph II).
Trusting that the foregoing answer to your questions will prove satisfactory, I am, very respectfully, yours
A. L. Rives
Lieutenant-Colonel and Acting Chief of Bureau