War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0502 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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everywhere to collect and contribute for any price which the Government can afford to pay - which would greatly exceed what it has ever been worth before - all the scrap-iron, wrought or cast, which can be found on the premises of each family. Let those in the country bring it to the nearest point of water or railroad transportation used by the Government, or to the nearest inland point visited by or easily accessible to the wagons of the Quartermaster's Department, and let them there find quartermasters or other agents of the Government authorized to purchase and pay for this iron, either permanently stationed there or visiting each point on days of which previous public notice should be given. In cities, towns, and villages where Government wagons can be employed let sufficient previous notice be published that on certain days those wagons, accompanied by a Government agent with means of weighing and money to pay, or blank forms of receipts for the iron, will call on each householder in certain wards or streets for such iron as they may have to dispose of, and let the wagons have on them a conspicuous sign indicating their object, with a bell or horn or other signal to announce their coming and avoid unnecessary delays. It is confidently believed that the quantity of iron which can be procured by this plan vigorously executed would very greatly exceed the calculations of the most sanguine. Some imperfect conception of it will be found by any experienced farmer or housekeeper who will consider how many broken or worn-out plows, plow-points, hoes, spades, axes, and other farming implements, and how many broken stoves, household and kitchen utensils he has seen lying useless and encumbering his premises, because hitherto their market value as old iron did not compensate for the labor and trouble of collecting and transporting them to market, though now worth to the Government not less than $ 5 for every 100 pounds. Into none of these enterprises will individuals engage with the contingency before them of losing heavily on an investment of capital made at the existing exorbitant prices for all labor and material, and of being at once deprived of a market for their work on the raising of the blockade by the competition of imported rails. The establishment and working of these rolling-mills is an obvious necessity to the success of our armies, as essential to the maintenance - in some cases for even the ensuing year - of many important railroads. And yet it is the most difficult problem we have now to solve. Could a sufficient number of railroad companies even now be induced at once to give a valid legal obligation to individuals or corporations engaging in this work that all the rails needed for their roads for a number of years (say even five) shall be purchased from those undertaking their manufacture now in the Confederate States at prices bearing a stipulated ratio (say two to one) to the market price of pig-iron or of old rails prevailing at the date of each purchase, it is possible that capitalists might be found willing to embark in these manufactures.

But the numerous other investments affording at this time more certain and larger profits, with little or no risk or expense to capital, would render such a co-operation and arrangement among railroad companies, if at this time possibly attainable, too unreliable a resource to be resorted to now by the Government in its present urgent need, and more than a year since repeated efforts to secure such a co-operation and arrangement wholly failed. No single railroad company can or will undertake such an enterprise, and no joint management and ownership of such manufactures by a number of such companies