to whom was referred tariff of charges for Government transportation made a report proposing a very considerable advance upon the present rate. While it was under consideration I said to the convention that I had hoped the tariff of charges would not have been disturbed for the present; that while there were roads that ought to receive a larger compensation than at present, there were, I was satisfied, others that were fully remunerated by the present rates; that I did not think a uniform rate just, but I should require more time than I then had to enter into any consideration and agreement for a change, and that I should feel bound to report against the tariff of charges then proposed, yet, upon the report of this committee being put to vote, it was, with some modification adopted by the convention. In my judgment this tariff is not equitable with any classification of the railroads that can be made, and I respectfully submit whether or not the action of the convention in this particular shall be ratified.
The committee to whom was referred a schedule between Richmond, Va., and Montgomery, Ala., failed to arrive at anything satisfactory. Having in my judgment failed to accomplish anything practicable by the action of the convention, I addressed a circular to the presidents of the railroads in the country (copy of which is hereto attached and marked C), asking that the superintendent of each road be allowed to act as my assistant in conducting Government transportation and indicating his duties in so doing. To this circular I hope for a favorable response, and I trust a system may be built up from it which will result satisfactory.
Having thus stated the action of the convention of the presidents and superintendents of railroads and what I have done to organize a system of Government transportation, it may be proper for me to give some idea of the origin of the difficulties and detections of the transportation of Government freights, which itobviate by my appointment. Amongst the first and most important is the disregard many army officers have for the private property of railroad companies; as, for instance, ordering rolling-stock from one road to another without making any effort or provision for returning it, or even without examining into the safety of the cars to run. Impressing cars and engines has been a common occurrence, and to such an extent has the ordinary routine of employees been interfered with that they cease to feel a proper interest in conducting a business which invests them with no responsibility so long as quartermasters are exercising a quasi control of the road and its stock. This involves the Government in much additional expense and causes the demoralization of railroad employees. At some depots where ordinarily the railroad companies would transship freight at their own expense, quartermasters feeling that some extra vigor is necessary in times of such delay, will employ labor at Government expense to do the transshipping or loading which should properly be done by the railroad companies. This plan having once been started must continue so long as there is any interference with freights after the Government agents turn it over to the railroads. The railroad employees are much more competent to perform all the duties pertaining to the safe and rapid transportation of freights than any one not conversant with the very many details connected therewith, but they can only remain efficient so long as they are held to an entire and strict responsibility.
In regard to these difficulties I would suggest that they might be reached and remedied by a general order, the details of which I will