and were required to take such as they sent, many of them being in an unsafe condition.
Nearly all the trains were detained at Grenada from six to thirty-six hours for loading, and I am quite sure the troops must have suffered quite as much by their detention at Grenada, exposed to snow, sleet, and rain, as they did during the transit. As to overloading and crowding, the trains, when ready to receive their freights, were placed at the command of the quartermaster who superintended the movement of troops, and, if overloaded, it was done by military authority, and often in opposition to our protestations. Many of the box-cars, perhaps most of them, were used for the transportation of horses belonging to commanders, and the men were placed on platform cars, and this by direction of those claiming the right of directing how the cars should be loaded, and not by direction of railroad officials.
If the cars are or were in bad condition, it is no fault of the railroad officials; it has been occasioned often by malicious destruction by troops in transit, without interference of their commanders, and the wanton destruction of material prepared for their repairs for fuel, simply because it happened to be well seasoned. As to worthlessness of engines, I have only to remark the charge made by General Bowen may be true, but this I know, that no road in the Confederate States ever had better equipments than the Central had one year ago, and, if his charge is true, it is because the Government has become the purchase of all the materials that are required to repair engines, and refuse to permit railroads to obtain them when they may be found, and for the additional reason that Government officials are permitted to enter our workshops and entice away our mechanics by offering them increased wages.
I have neglected to state that in one, perhaps two, cases trains with troops were detained at stations between Grenada and Canton twelve or more hours, by direction of the officers in command of the troops thereon, in consequence, as I am informed, of the inclemency of the weather. Now, I state, and can prove, that our trains were run from Grenada to Canton in from nine to eleven hours, with the exceptions herein referred to, and that there was no unnecessary detention except from accidental causes. I also state, and can prove, that trains were detained at Grenada from six to thirty-six hours after their arrival by military officials, when by due diligence they could have been loaded in three hours. I deny that there were box-cars at way stations on the line of road in safe running order, except such as were sent to such stations by military requisition, for the purpose of transporting provisions to the army, it being stated that the troops were without bread and the cars must be provided without fail. I think I can convince any man possessing practical business information that the charges made in the communication of General Bowen are in the main untrue, and that all are based on slight foundation. I feel quite confident that "these railroad officials" referred to are quite as competent to manage the affairs intrusted to them as the military officials are to manage theirs, and that they have at all times and on all occasions exhibited as much zeal, made as great sacrifices for the public good, and are actuated by as patriotic motives in the discharge of their respective duties as any general or other military officer. That they will continue to do so, I do not doubt, until those military officers who make such groundless charges have been brought to "their senses," if a thing so devoutly desired can be effected.
With respect, I am your obedient servant,