qualified themselves to take charge of them. Probably Major- General Thomas, if his attention is directed to the urgent importance of the subject by the Secretary of War or by the lieutenant-general, may be able to induce the representatives of the owners of the roads to qualify themselves to take charge of them.
Scheduls of all rolling-stock and railroad equipment the property of the United States are being prepared with a view to their sale.
The sale of much railroad property in Virginia and at several other points has been already advertised.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-General, Brevet Major-General.
MACON, GA., July 23, 1865.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT,
Commanding Armies of the United States, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: I deem it my duty to earnestly recommend that the railroads now operated by the United States be turned over to their respective companies so soon as (1) those companies shall elect officers and directors who can be relied on as thoroughly loyal to the Government, and (2) the accounts between the railroads and the Government can be properly adjusted.
Although, as I have therefore said, the roads might be economically and advantageously operated by the Government, it is yet not likely that, as a matter of fact, they will be so operated, and consequently they should be given up at the earliest moment that the two above specified conditions can be fulfilled.
In the meantime, the United States ought not to be at the expense of putting the roads in thorough repair merely for the benefit of the companies. All work on track or bridges beyond what is absolutely necessary for the safety of trains should be discontinued. All repairs to locomotives and cars to which the companies have any claim should be stopped at once, as should also the running of the rolling-mill at Chattanooga.
The proper adjustment of accounts between the Government and the roads will require a good deal of consideration. Some of the roads have been put by the Government in a much better condition than they were before it took possession. It will not be right to give them, without pay, the advantage of thorough repairs, new iron, permanent bridges, &c. If they claim compensation for the use of their roads, it is sufficient to answer that in the early stages of the war they voluntarily and zealously aided the enemy, furnishing them not only with the great "interior lines" of communication and supply, of which all have heard so much, but with knowing heads and ready hands to operate them. Their able railroad men were of more service to the rebels than many of their general officers. No claim of theirs for pay or damages should be entertained a moment. It is only necessary to find out how much they are fairly indebted to the United States. To do this, the disbursing officers should be called on for reports of expenditures for permanent improvements.
Of course it will be necessary, previous to relinquishing the roads, to make agreements as to future transportation of troops and supplies, mails, and such other matters as the convenience of the Government may require.