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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 4, vol 3, Part 1 (Blockade Runners)
Page 228 CONFEDERATE AUTHORITIES.

way by the Government. Immense trouble will be encountered, but the reward will be great. It will shorten the distance between those two points from 143 miles to about 80 miles, saving about 63 miles and giving a line not subject to interruptions by the enemy. It could be finished in twelve months, but it would require extraordinary exertions and every facility that Government could give. It cannot be urged too strongly, and I trust the matter will not drop with this report.

Second. The deficiency of rolling-stock is great and without remedy until the policy of the Government changes in regard to keeping mechanics in the Army, to which must be added another difficulty quite as serious, i. E., the supply of iron. The deficiency of locomotives is not so serious if those in the country could be thoroughly repaired. This takes mechanics and materials, which are not in the Confederacy. I am confident that with 100 mechanics and a supply of block tin, copper, cast-steel, &c., distributed through the various shops in Virginia, that the effective motive power of the State would be in six months increased one-half. It was with the idea of placing this machinery in good order that I applied for the detail of one mechanic for every ten miles of railroad in operation in the Confederacy, but so impracticable was considered my suggestion that no reply was made to it.

Third. It is almost an impossibility for those who have had no practical experience to understand how any difficulty can arise from interchanging cars, and yet it is most fruitful of destruction to property. Cars never get the proper attention when from under the owner's eye, and with the present scarcity it is the true policy to husband them with care. The experience of the world is against it, and if the time over comes when it is pursued you may reply upon all improvement in, or certainty of, transportation is destroyed. In peace times competing lines sometimes interchanged cars, but it was always with the expectation that many would be destroyed. Can we afford to lose any? Certainly not. Then we must manage those we have so as to avoid it, and that can only be done by keeping them constantly under the eye of the owner. The establishment of a locomotive factory is very desirable, but here arises the same question of men and material, with the additional one of obtaining complicated machinery; but these are not insurmountable obstacles, nor do they need legislation. If the mechanics can be had the balance will be forthcoming. If mechanics are not to be had for repairing locomotives, where is the force coming from the construct them? That the railroads should come under military control I am becoming every day more satisfied. There seems to be a desire to work for the road's interest rather than sacrifice all convenience for the country's cause. For instance, it is clear to anybody that the two roads from Richmond to Weldon should be worked as one corporation, and yet all the advantages to the Government and the public cannot bring it about. If the Virginia Legislature really wish to make the railroads serve the Confederate Stlgamate these two roads. This is a matter about which there can be no doubt, and nothing but self-interest will oppose it. Greater harmony would doubtless produce better results, but this I fear can never be obtained until a Government officer manages every road. The present incumbents might still retain their positions, but should be directly amenable to Government, and made to feel that the interests of Government were paramount to every other consideration. This question will press more heavily than heretofore from the extent


Page 228 CONFEDERATE AUTHORITIES.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 4, vol 3, Part 1 (Blockade Runners)
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