CAMDEN STATION, January 25, 1865.
(Received 2.30 p. m.)
Honorable E. M. STANTON:
I have your dispatch of this a. m. regarding the failure to obtain railroad communication between Washington and Annapolis last night. The cause of this failure has been erroneously stated to you. The Annapolis and Elk Ridge Railroad, running from Annapolis Junction to Annapolis, is a distinct corporation, with a management entirely separate from the Baltimore and Ohio Company. It is twenty-one miles in length, and has only single track through out. When our trains are run upon that road it it absolutely essential to safety to run only by arrangement-as, if a train is sent to Annapolis, and a train be upon the road in the opposite direction, the danger of collision is of the greatest character. Immediately upon the receipt of your telegram last p. m. our master of transportation telegraphed as follows:
OPERATOR AT ANNAPOLIS JUNCTION:
A special is about starting from Washington with Admiral Farragut for Annapolis, and must have a clear track through as quick as possible.
By special order Secretary of War:
W. P. SMITH.
Same to J. Brown, president and superintendent Annapolis road, Annapolis.
Although Mr. Smith remained at the station and on duty all night, the company being greatly anxious to accomplish your wishes, no telegraphic communication to Annapolis could be had, although tried repeatedly, and the only possible means by which the train could be forwarded on that road would have been contrary to our fixed and most essential rule, to have sent it without an arrangement and with the risk of a calamitous collision. Under the circumstances, especially with so precious a life in charge, would it have been proper to have taken this risk? The engine sent by Agent Koontz was one of our first-class passenger engines, and could have been run upon that road at moderate speed with safety. We have numerous engines that can be run without any risk upon that line, and an additional engine could have been sent, if deemed advisable, from Baltimore to Annapolis Junction for the purpose. The entire difficulty, in the recent case with General Grant also, was the want of an operator on duty at night at Annapolis. On that occasion on of our principal officers remained all night on duty at Camden Station, endeavoring, without success, to obtain communication. The telegraph line between Annapolis Junction and Annapolis is owned by private parties and is managed by private parties, and is managed under the presidency of Mr. A. B. Hagner, of Annapolis. We have asked Mr. Hagner during the present condition of affairs to place an operator on duty at night. If this be done we can arrange at any time to accomplish rapid communication between Washington and Annapolis with certainty and reliability with a few hours' notice. Some notice is needful, so that, as there is no intermediate telegraph station between Annapolis Junction and Annapolis, the notification should be given to the Annapolis road to have their track cleared. Our company greatly regrets the failure to accomplish the desired result, although arising from a cause beyond the control of its officers. Will you oblige me by advising whether an order will be given to maintain continuous telegraphic communication with Annapolis. I shall advise the president
17 R R-VOL XLVI, PT II