Nashville, January 12, 1862.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War:
SIR: I hope you will excuse me for pressing upon your consideration a matter of high importance to the future operations of the Government in the present struggle. I refer to the rolling-stock upon the railroads. Under the enormous pressure of freight the locomotives and cars are rapidly wearing out, and the period is not distant when transportation upon the roads will be exceedingly difficult, and on many routes impossible. I do not pretend to know the capacity of companies at a distance from this point in this respect, but I suppose it to be limited; and I am not aware of any means on foot to supply any accruing deficiency. As these roads are either under the direct control of the Government, or for the time being in its special use, would it not be wise for the Government to induce, by negotiation with several of the strongest companies, the speedy creation of establishments adapted to the manufacture of both locomotives and cars? This might be done by the advancement of money upon mortgage or other security, to be refunded in freight or paid at some stipulated time. The companies have a permanent and ordinary interest in the question, which it seems to me might be easily enlisted, while the Government has a present, pressing, and vital interest which will admit of no delay or evasion.
If some such arrangement cannot be made, then will not the Government be forced to organize some one or more establishments of its own to meet the emergency? To keep up the roads is now a means of defense second in importance only to supplying munitions of war. The policy of a Government establishment I know is objectionable for many reasons, not the least of which would be its cost. It may be that independent private enterprise might be prompted to undertake the work upon a liberal advance. The subject has for some time forces itself upon my observation and I had hoped to see private capital volunteer in the cause. This, however, has not been done within my knowledge, and I fear, from the continual depression in monetary affairs, will not. Unless something is done, and that speedily, there is much cause to apprehend a failure on many of these thoroughfares in the means of transportation. I kds which converge at this point are deficient in this respect and incapable of furnishing prompt transportation for troops and munitions, to say nothing of ordinary supplies.
You may, perhaps, have been troubled with this same question from other quarters. If so, you will excuse, I hope, this intrusion.
NEILL S. BROWN.
RICHMOND, January 13, 1862.
Colonel A. C. MYERS,
Quartermaster-General, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: The following rule has been adopted by the Secretary of War, which he directs shall be applied to all applications for the detail or discharge of soldiers in the cases referred to:
When soldiers are required as workmen in the public workshops, under the superintendence of Government officers, they may be detailed or discharged for