(Copy for the following chief mustering officers: Brigadier- General Pitcher, Indiana; Brigadier-General Oakes, Illinois; Lieutenant-Colonel Grier, Iowa; Colonel Alexander, Missouri; Lieutenant-Colonel Lovell, Wisconsin; Lieutenant-Colonel Hill, Michigan; Colonel Ely, New Jersey; Major Austine, Vermont; Major Silvey, New Hampshire; Lieutenant-Colonel Neide, Rhode Island; Lieutenant-Colonel Gilbert, Connecticut; Major Clarke, Massachusetts; Lieutenant-Colonel Littler, Maine.)
Washington City, May 19, 1865.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: I have the honor to inclose certain papers* relative to the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.
The Governor of Virginia, Honorable F. H. Peirpoint, asks that this road be placed in possession of certain gentlemen appointed by the Board of Public Works to receive it. His letter is addressed to the Secretary of War.
Mr. John S. Barbour, president of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad for many years, incloses to Major-General Augur, commanding the Department of Washington, an order of Major- General Ord, placing him in charge of that part of the railroad in the Department of Virginia not in use by the military authorities.
He asks authority to take possession of the property of the company inthe city of Alexandria. He states that he has complied with the regulations, i. e., taken the amnesty oath, and that he has held no military office under the rebel Government while governing the road during the last four years of rebellion. He claims to represent the stockholders. I have been advised that there are stockholders, loyal men of the North, whose property was seized four years ago, and who have not been allowed any voice in the control of the affairs of the road or in the election of its president or directors. I doubt whether taking the amnesty oath re-establishes any person elected by disloyal votes as the legal or equitable president of a railroad from which all loyal men have been excluded during the past four years.
The State of Virginia has a Board of Public Works, charged with the general supervision of railroads and other public works of the State. I am advised that the State holds an interest of three-fifths in all the railroads and canals and turnpikes. Mr. John S. Barbour, however, informs me that the Orange and Alexandria Railroad is an exception to this rule; that it is the property almost entirely, if not entirely, of private parties; others deny this.
The question of the disposition of the railroads in the States lately in rebellion is a large one, and after reflection I have the honor to advise that the following principles be established to govern the action of the Quartermaster's Department and of the military authorities in disposing of all of them:
First. The United States will, as soon as it can dispense with the military occupation and control of any road of which the Quartermaster's Department is now in charge, turn it over to the parties asking to receive it who may appear to have the best claim and be able to operate it in such manner as to secure the speedy movement of all