RICHMOND, January 23, 1862.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War:
SIR: Some short time since, you may remember, I brought peresonally to your attention the matter of the police which had been established to guard the bridges of the line of the Orange and Alexandira Railroad, extending from Lynchburg to Manassas, for security of the military transportation between those points, inclusive - necessarily, that between Richmond and Manassas via Gordonsville. In reply to my epxlanation, then orally presented, your requsted that I should present in writing the points involved, which I now proceed to do.
In April last, immediately upon the State act of secession, the Governor and council of Virginia, viewing it as a matter of military necessity, agreed with me as the representatives of the railroad company to maintain a sufficient night police to guard the bridges of the line above mentioned, the railroad company undertaking to gaurd them in the daytime. This plan was put in operation and has been maintained upon the basis stated up to the present time. On the 6th of November last I received a communication from Governor Letcher to the effect that the State would no longer the expense involved in this matter of guarding bridges upon the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. About the time of receiving this notice the burning of bridges by traitors in East Tennessee occurred, and I forbore to dismiss the police until I could present my views in objection to the policy indicated to the Governor. In our interview I presented the importance of securing these bridges to the Army of the Potomac, as their supplies were mainly drawn over the railroad, and the danger of leaving them unguarded; that the railroad was substantially used for military transportation and Government purposes, to exclusion of private tonnage, the charges for which were only half the usual rates of transportation; that the railroad company could not alone afford to bear the heavy cost of this police, and that if the Government did not lend assistance I should be compelled to discharge the guards. Governor Letcher recorgnized the force of the views urged, but was of opinion that the Confederate Government properly should relieve Virginia of this war charge, and requested me to bring the matter to your attention as Secretary of War. All that is asked is that you should recognize the cost of keeping up this guard as a proper milit authorize the sun required to be paid. There are some twenty bridges to be guarded, and forty-one or forty-two men now employed. At the bridge nearest Manassas (Broad Run) and the one at Culpeper Court-House, where there is a military post, General Johnston has ordered soldiers to do the necessary police, cut regards the ordinary paid civil police at other points as preferable. If more desirable, the object can be accomplished by an order on you part to the proper officer to allow this as an extraordinary charge upon the supplies (military) transported over the Orange and Alexandria Railroad for the Confederate Government. In whatever light, however, you may be pleased to treat the matter, the favor of an early decision is desirable.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. S. BARBOUR, Jr.,
President Orange and Alexandria Railroad Company.