command of the Department, arrangements should be made for laying a double track between this city and Annapolis Junction, with improved sidings and facilities at Annapolis and along the branch road.
Should the navigation of the Potomac River be interrupted by blockade or the severity of winter it would become absolutely necessary, for the proper supply of the troops in the District of Columbia and vicinity, and of the inhabitants of this city, to private additional railroad connection between Washington and Baltimore. A responsible company, with a charter from the State of Maryland, have proposed to do this upon condition that the Government will indorse their bonds, they binding themselves to set aside annually a sufficient sum for their reception at maturity, and thus eventually release the Government from any liability whatever, and to charge for transportation rates in no case to exceed 4 cents a ton per mile for freight and 3 cents per mile for passengers. During the continuance of the war, however, their charge for passengers is not to exceed 2 cents per mile. The charge for the transportation of passengers between the two cities is at present 3 3/4 cents per mile, and for freight the rates per ton will average from 5 to 8 cents per mile. The large saving to the Government in cost of transportation would amply compensate for all liability, and give to the citizens of al the loyal States greatly improved facilities for reaching the national capital, and at much less rates than they are now compelled to pay. To the citizens of the District it would cheapen the cost of supplies, and prove of immense value in every respect.
I recommend that a railway be constructed through this city from the navy-yard, by the Capitol, to Georgetown, forming connections with the existing railroad depots, and using the Aqueduct Bridge for the purpose of crossing the river at Georgetown. By a junction of this proposed railway with the Orange and Alexandria Railroad not only would the communication with our troops in Virginia be greatly improved, but an easy access be obtained to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad near Harper's Ferry by means of the Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad. To its importance as affording facilities for moving troops and supplies in time of war may be added the future benefits it would confer upon the District of Columbia. The outlay required would be saved in a few months by enabling the Government to dispense with the expensive ferry at Georgetown, and by greatly decreasing the costly wagon transportation of the Army through this city.
The injuries to railroads instigated by the rebel authorities at Baltimore, in order to embarrass communications with the North and West via Harrisburg and with the East via Philadelphia, have been repaired by the different companies that own them. That portion of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad west of Harper's Ferry which was so ruthlessly destroyed by the rebels has not yet been restored. The great interests of trade require that this road should be reopened as speedily as possible by the company for the transportation of the immense surplus of the agricultural productions of the West. To aid this object the Department has tendered to the company a sufficient force for its protection during the progress of the work, and will render such facilities as it may be able to provide, in connection with its other important public duties.
For the purpose of facilitating the transportation of supplies to Alexandria and to points beyond, it has been found necessary to rebuild portions of the Orange and Alexandria and the Loudoun and Hampshire railroads, and to lay a track from the railroad depot to a point on the Potomac River in this city.