[NOVEMBER 7, 1861. -For Milton to Benjamin, in regard to the organization of troops in Florida, see Series I, VOL. LIII, p. 185.]
RICHMOND, FREDERICKSBURG AND POTOMAC R. R. CO., PRESIDENT'S OFFICE,
Richmond, November 10, 1861.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War:
DEAR SIR: Upon the seizure, on the 19th of April last, of the Potomac River steam-boats by the Lincoln Government, in accordance with suggestions which I then made to General R. E. Lee, then commanding the forces of this State, and which he adopted in a circular issued by him to the railroad companies of this State, various precautionary measures were adopted by this company to place this road in a state of defense against the designs of the enemy and to make it most useful to our Government. Among these was the employment at all of the bridges on the road of armed guards where none ha been employed before, and of additional ones where any had been before employed, for the protection of those important structures from the incendiary designs of secret enemies and emissaries employed by the enemy. After continuing their employment some four months at the exclusive cost of this company, the Government having declined to defray and part of that cost, or even to furnish arms or ammunition for those guards, the Government then having troops at several points on the road, with the command of the militia along its whole length, and the expense to this company being too burdensome to be continued, I addressed a note to General Lee apprising him that at the end of that month the employment of these additional guards would be discontinued on this road, and suggested that of the troops stationed at different camps along the road, or from the militia of the counties through which it passes, guards for day and night sentry duty at each railroad bridge should be regularly detailed by the officers immediately in command of those troops. No reply was ever received to this note. The recent destruction of the railroad bridges in East Tennessee induces me to renew to you the suggestion made to General Lee, not only as to this railroad, the sole railroad connecting the Lower Potomac with the seat of Government, headquarters and general rendezvous of the Army, and with the South, but also as to the other railroads in the Confederate States now so essential to the public service. It is true that all East Tennessee railroads, surrounded by a population largely disloyal, but in the most loyal sections of the country there may be secret enemies and employees of the enemy who in the solitude of the country and darkness of night may, be burning these bridges with impunity, inflict most disastrous blows upon the success of our arms, and earn of the Lincoln Government ample rewards for treachery. The destruction of one or two bridges on this road would cut off railroad communication with the Lower Potomac and cripple that with the Upper Potomac also, as this road furnishes transportation for troops and supplies over the Central Railroad also, which also has an important bridge within twenty-five miles of Richmond. The destruction of the East Tennessee railroad bridges leaves now for army transportation but one railroad route to the south and southwest. The destruction of either of the long bridges over the James or Roanoke Rivers (to say nothing of the