OR, Series 4, Vol. 1, Page 1089

Demopolis, April 24, 1862
 
Hon. George W. Randolph
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.
 
Sir,
  In obedience to your instructions handed to me at Richmond, I proceeded at once to the line of the railroad from Selma, in Alabama, to Meridian, in Mississippi, and up to the present time have endeavored to obtain such information as I could as to the present condition of the road and prospects of its early completion. I have delayed a report to you until now so that I could obtain an interview with the president and directors of the Alabama & Mississippi Rivers Railroad Company and ascertain their prospects and plans for the early completion of their road so as to connect at Meridian. On yesterday I attended a session of the board of directors and had a conference with them on the subject of the road. The first and most important object of the company was to obtain the advance of the $150,000 authorized by Congress, and to this end the following papers were prepared and submitted to my examination, to wit: First, the note of the company, payable to the Confederate States of America, for $150,000, ten years after date; second, a mortgage on the entire road bed, fixtures, rolling-stock, depot property, machine-shops, etc., to secure the payment of the note; third, the obligation of the company, with ample personal security, for the prompt and faithful application of the money toward the completion of the road; fourth, an agreement by the company in the meantime to transport promptly over their road, or any part of it, any and all troops, munitions of war, provisions, or other articles which the Government may desire to forward, and to credit any expense thus incurred by the Government on the note of the company till the amount thereof be extinguished.
  These several papers duly executed will be transmitted to you so soon as the mortgage can be recorded in the four counties of Dallas, Perry, Marengo, and Sumter, through which the road passes. I have made an estimate of the value of the road with its fixtures, depot property, rolling-stock, machine-shops, etc., and have looked into the liens already existing upon the property of the company, and am satisfied the security offered by the mortgage is amply good. I will, if you prefer, send you a detailed statement of my estimates of the value of the road and of the existing liens upon it. If upon receiving the several papers above enumerated you should concur with me in opinion that the repayment of the $150,000 is amply secured by the mortgage, the company will desire to receive the money at the earliest possible day, and a check or draft on Mobile would answer the purposes of the company. Knowing it to be the desire of the Government to have this route in a condition to be used at the earliest possible moment, I have directed my inquiries in the first instance to the completion of the road to this point, and to the best and shortest mode of reaching the Mobile & Ohio Railroad from this place. The railroad from Selma to this place is now completed within eight miles of this place, and will be within five miles in two weeks. From this point to Gainesville, on the Tombigbee River, a distance of about thirty miles by land, and about double that number of miles by water, the river is now in fine condition for navigation, and steam-boats could readily be procured in Mobile to be used on this route if needed by the Government. From Gainesville to the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, a distance of some twenty miles, a railroad has already been completed with the exception of some two miles near Gainesville. I have placed myself in communication with the president of the Gainesville road {Mississippi, Gainesville & Tuscaloosa Railroad}, and have earnestly urged the prompt building of the two miles of the road now unfinished. I refer to this route so that it may be brought in use by the Government if required. The president and directors of the Alabama and Mississippi Rivers Railroad Company promise to use every effort to push forward their road. They adopted a resolution authorizing me to exercise the power con jointly with their principal engineer of directing the progress of the work, and I shall devote to it every possible attention. You will notice that in executing the note for $150,000 nothing is said upon the subject of interest. In reference to the interest, the company take the ground that for the accommodation of the Government they will have to make sacrifices to finish their road, iron and materials being at this moment quite high. I am satisfied there is much force in the ground assumed by the company on the question of interest, but I deemed it best to take the obligation of the company to credit on the note any claims against the Government for services rendered by the road even before the maturity of the note. The company have engaged about 1,000 tons of railroad iron now in New Orleans, which will have to be forwarded by the New Orleans and Jackson {& Great Northern} Railroad and the Southern {of Mississippi} Railroad. As these roads are understood to be under the control of the Government, I have to request that you will furnish me at once an order to these companies to transport the iron without delay.
  Another subject I desire to bring to your notice. A railroad has been constructed from the town of Cahaba, on the Alabama River, to Marion, in Perry {the Cahaba, Marion & Greensboro Railroad}, a distance of twenty-eight to thirty miles. This road has been unprofitable to its stockholders, is now understood to be involved in a chancery suit, and might, without much public inconvenience, be dispensed with. You will see from the map that this road crosses the Alabama and Mississippi Rivers Railroad about fourteen miles from Marion. As the rails on the road and its rolling-stock would be important in completing and equipping the Alabama and Mississippi Rivers Railroad, and even essential (as it is now quite difficult to procure by purchase either rails or rolling-stock), I respectfully advise that you give me an order to impress the rails from Cahaba to the place of crossing the Alabama and Mississippi Rivers Railroad with the rolling-stock, materials on hand, etc., to be used in completing the Alabama and Mississippi road upon such terms and conditions as to compensation as you may deem best. I understand such an order from the Government would be willingly acquiesced in by many of the principal stockholders in this company, as the road is now doing nobody much good. The Alabama and Mississippi Rivers Railroad Company have taken steps to arrange a proper connection at Reagan with the Northeast & Southwest {Alabama Railroad} Company. If before the road can be completed the Government should find occasion to send troops on this road I am assured by the company that every effort will be made to pass them speedily by way of the river route to Gainesville, provided a few days' notice be given in advance of the desire of the Government.
  One other suggestion and I will close this report, already longer than I could wish. In the event the enemy should get into possession of Mobile the road from Selma to Meridian will become a necessity to the Government. Most of the planters in this part of the country have pretty much abandoned the cultivation of cotton and put their lands in corn. This state of things will diminish the labor usually employed in the cultivation of crops, and hands can on many plantations be spared for other purposes. Negro laborers could to a considerable extent be impressed by the Government without much public injury. If therefore you deem it advisable to cause the road from Selma to Meridian to be completed at the earliest possible day, and think proper to give the necessary order for impressing laborers, your order will be promptly and carefully executed.
I am, very respectfully
A. S. Gaines
Engineer and Special Agent
P. S. -- I am informed that the Marion and Cahaba Railroad Company have on hand 400 tons of iron and 400 kegs of spikes not heretofore used and proposed to be used on an extension of their road now abandoned. I hope your order will be broad enough to allow me to take these. I am further informed that the Eufaula Railroad Company {South Western RR} have a new locomotive and certain cars and spikes at Montgomery, and that the building of their road has been suspended. I suggest that your order be broad enough to allow these to be taken and used also.

Home