Under existing circumstances, it becomes a serious question whether the Government should not do everything possible to complete the railroad connection between Rome, Ga., and Blue Mountain, Ala., with a view to securing two outlets from the mineral districts of Alabama. All the coal and iron from that section have now to be brought to Selma, and from that point sent by river to Montgomery, thence to West Point, where there is a bray of gauge, before it can reach Atlanta, Macon, Augusta, or any other important work shops. This involves transshipment at Selma, at Montgomery, and again at West Point. The distance from Blue Mountain to Atlanta, via Selma, Montgomery, and West Point, is 405 miles, of which bout 100 miles are on the Alabama River. From Blue Mountain to Atlanta, by Rome, the distance will be 139 miles, with no break of gauge or transshipment, if the 59 miles of connection can be finished.
The two things especially wanted by Judge Walker, the president of the Alabama and Georgia Railroad, are iron to lay the track and transportation of provisions from Southwestern Georgia and other points, to feed his hands. Can the Government aid him and meet the other pressing wants of the country and army? Fifty-nine miles of railroad iron will be difficult to obtain. The only sources of supply for so large an amount would seem to be the Florida railroads and the Mississippi Central. If the country can be held and the bridge rebuilt over the Pearl River at Jackson, a considerable quantity of iron could be obtained from the last-named road, to be used for the Blue Mountain connection, or for our much worn mains lines of road.
This question should receive prompt and earnest attention from Colonel Garnett and the other member of the commission for collecting iron from railroads.
I will direct Lieutenant-Colonel Rives, Acting Chief of Engineer Bureau, to confer with Lieutenant-Colonel St. John, Chief of Niter and Mining Bureau, and, with him, to take such steps in the matter now presented as may be possible.
With high respect, your obedient servant,
J. F. GILMER,
Major-General, and Chief of Engineer Bureau.
SAVANNAH, October 10, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Allow me to suggest, for your consideration, that many of the troops, especially Major E. C. Anderson's battalion of cavalry, south of this place, are already and are every day spreading a most injurious sentiment of disaffection for the war, and a large majority are believed to the willing for submission, in order to obtain peace. This feeling is fanned by demagogues, and extending to their counties, and may soon break forth into mutiny or desertion.
I am told that 1,000 to 1,500 of the conscripts from those lower counties have concentrated in the Okeefinokee Swamp, and defy those sent to arrest them. It is not believed that this disaffection arises from any other cause than idleness, and it is notorious that those who have been most active and suffered most in this war, are the most resolute for its continuance till we gain independence. The same