Lieutenant-Cololnel Sims is now attending a meeting of railroad presidents at Columbia, S. C., to urge upon them an increase in the efficiency of the roads. I must say, however, I have no hope of any important result. The want of harmonious action between the roads is a great evil. The breaking of bulk at so many points seriusly delays freight and increases labor. I respectfully urge that the necessity will justify an arrangement by military supervision, if required, which will secure the passage of freight cars on all connected roads without breaking bulk, and that all travel be suspended except on one mail train daily, and then Government agents, officers, and soldiers to have precedence. Every possible reduction in the departments here should be made so as to reduce consumption.
APRIL 20, 1864.
Secretary of War for his consideration and remarks.
APRIL 22, 1864.
Respectfully returned to the President.
The vital importance of increasing supplies for the armies in this State is fully realized. Whether it be possible to do so without depleting the city of Richmond is, with the limited means of railroad transportation, very doubtful. Certainly the utmost capacities of the roads should be commanded and used, and if necessary for such control, I concur with General Bragg in recommending that military possession be taken of them and that they be run under competent management, without the embarrassment of distinct roads and separate schedules. Conscious of the impotance of this, I have directed every effort to be made to secure the concurrence of the roads in this plan, and the officer in charge of transportation is now in conference with the railroad presidents on the subjects. He was enjoined earnestly to leave no means unemployed and to use all the powers which the department could give to control and engage in transportation the full resources of the roads. I concur in thinking travel, especially toward this city, should bed, as indeed has already been done, and that all supernumeraries or others in the varius offices and posts under the control of the Government who can be spared should be sent away.
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
APRIL 23, 1864.
SECRETARY OF WAR:
Due effort should be made to secure the co-operation of railroad companies in the most effective plan before proceeding to take possession of the railroads. I am not encouraged by the past to expect that all difficulties would be removed by transferring the management of these extensive organizations to the agents of the War Department. Every proper effort should be made to reduce the consumers of this city, and the means heretofore suggested to you are still believed to be those best suited to the circumstances and object.