Augusta and Richmond over last year. Probably 15 locomotives and 200 freight cars are now working between those two points which were not there last year. Does this look as if no efforts were being made? The writer charges that thirty-five cars loaded with corn remained at Gaston one week. This is true, but what was the cause of it? General Pickett seized the trains of the Petersburg Railroad and carried them away to Kinston, causing a total stopPAGEof business on this road. Are such delays chargeable to transportation or the system under which it is conducted? The demands of the Navy Department may interfere with transportation, but are the claims of that Department to be ignored? No orders have reached me to that effect, and until they do I must continue as heretofore.
The suggestions relative to putting the naval works at Columbus and Charlotte at repairing railroad machinery we recommended to the Honorable Secretary of the Navy, but he did not view it favorably. If the business of transportation we confined to removal of commissary supplies, it would present no difficulty; but it really is less than one-third of the work. It is not at all unusual for persons to suppose that they can manage railroads with much more ability than those who have them in charge. It is more unusual to find such professions supported by facts. The subject of transportation has had all of my attention, and there is but one way in which it can be improved, and that is by liberal details of machinists from the Army. Details for sixty days do but little good. They must go permanently into the workshops and have material to work with. I have asked for them and they are not granted. Every road has its shop and tools, but it has few workmen. You may work, and plan, and devise, and suggest, and at last you will come to this conclusion. The recent guaranty given by the Secretary of War to those [who] will go into the iron business will come to nothing, because the details asked for were not promised, and it is the same reason that has depreciated the rolling-stock of the country. I asked once for a detail of one mechanic for every ten miles of railroad in the Confederacy, but so preposterous, I suppose, was considered the demand that no answer was returned to me. I repeat it, transportation must continue to depreciate until the mechanics are detailed. It is a short-sighted, ruinous policy that looks to any other source for relief, and I entreat you, general, not to pass my suggestion by without consideration, and if you would have them substantiated by older and wiser heads I beg you to consult them. All I ask is, let them be practical railroad men. I am willing to do all that I can do, but to improve transportation without men and material is the requisition of the Egyptian task-master. Give me the men and you shall see advantages from them. Refuse and I can promise nothing.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
F. W. SIMS,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Quartermaster.
EXECUTIVE OFFICE, Shreveport, La., February 8, 1864.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: As requested by the General Assembly, I have the honor herewith to transmit to you a copy of the annexed resolutions, adopted by