War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0503 CONFEDERATE AUTHORITIES.

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could be harmonious, economical, or in any respect practicable. No alternative is perceived to the establishment by the Government itself of these rolling-mills, from which it can furnish rails for the maintenance of such railroads as it may deem essential as military roads to the successful movement and supply of its armies. To this deliberate conviction we are forced, in full view and after mature consideration of all the objections and difficulties, political and practical, which are incident to this plan. Of these, at first view, the constitutional authority of the Government to adopt this plan will to some appear the most serious, if not insuperable, but if, as has been readily conceded in theory and in practice, it be clearly within the scope of that authority that for military purposes the Government should when necessary take possession of railroads; destroy and reconstruct their roadways, bridges, warehouses, and other structures, providing and applying all requisite materials for such reconstruction; make, repair, and put in use on any railroads in the Confederate States locomotives and cars belonging to the Government, or impress and take the equipment of one railroad to use on another, and perhaps remote one - in what sense is it a greater exercise of constitutional power to provide and supply the rails for maintaining the roadways of these railroads essential to the transportation absolutely needed for our armies? All these powers are alike necessarily incident to the authority and duty successfully to carry on the war for our existence and independence.

Nor does the question of compensation to be paid to the Government for these improvements necessary to their maintenance present any difficulty which may not be readily solved by plain principles of practical equity. Let them be charged with either the actual cost to the Government, or what the actual cost would have been to them of such improvements furnished at the same dates and localities by others, and neither party will have reason to complain. If the Government with all the advantages it possesses can be proven to have incurred unnecessary expense beyond what would have been the cost of these improvements furnished by others, it is but reasonable it should lost the excess, looking for compensation in the public importance to itself of the work. On the other hand, no railroad company has the right, if it was so disloyal as to have the wish, to avoid such an expenditure needed for its maintenance, because its ultimate profitableness may be doubtful, although this may be made certain by a just and liberal rate of tolls for Government transportation. The disposal of these rolling-mills, and the possible loss resulting from their disposal by the Government after they shall be no longer needed for supplying rails as a military necessity to railroads, will be another grave objection urged by some to this plan, but is believed to be far more of a chimera than a reasonable apprehension. Upon the restoration of peace there will be many causes contributing to maintain for a long time the price of rails at very high rates. Several thousand miles of railroad, now either destroyed, worn out, or in the hands of the enemy, must inevitably be immediately reconstructed, and very extensive additions to existing lines of railroad will become instantly equally necessary both to the commercial interests and the public defense of the Confederate States. The existing war will leave not only nearly or wholly suspended the manufacture of rails in the Confederate States, but by exhausting the mechanical labor in the United States and depriving the manufactures there and in Britain for so long a time of the stimulus, support, or even hope of a market, will