War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0512 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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the operations of its armies, I have thought it proper that the facts on which that estimate is made should be known to you. A careful examination of the statistics of railroads in the Confederacy, as given in the most approved maps, guides, and other publications, disclosed the fact that those railroads, exclusive of those now in the possession of the enemy or which might not be needed, amounted in length to not less than 6,300 miles. But assuming that only 5,500 miles of these roads would be necessary to the military movements of the Government, these would have in their main tracks (exclusive of side tracks, on which old rails may be used) 495,000 tons of rails, computing them at 90 tons to the mile - the average weight of rails on Southern railroads. In ordinary times and with the ordinary use and opportunities in peace of repairing roadways and machinery experience forbids any reliance on the duration of rails for a longer period than from ten to fifteen years, and with the wear and use of them resulting from the overwhelming amount of army transportation and the diversion to them of all freights heretofore carried by water transportation, without opportunity or materials for repairs of roadways and machinery, their duration for ten years is the utmost that can be reasonably relied on; and when it is remembered that the rails have been laid or railed on none of these roads less than three and on many not less than twelve and fifteen years since, it is but reasonable to calculate on the necessity of renewing during this and each successive year one-tenth of the length of all these railroads, requiring per annum one-tenth of the 495,000 tons of rails used in them, or 49,500 tons annually, or 4,125 tons monthly, being 1,500 tons more yearly or 125 tons more monthly than was estimated on the paper referred to.

It may be said that no sufficient allowance is here made for the rails to be taken from roads of no or of minor military importance to the Confederacy; but it will be observed that this calculation is based on supplying 800 miles less of railroads than are believed to be necessary to the military operations of the Government, which 800 miles would require annually 80 miles or 7,200 tons more of rails to keep them in use. Experience, too, has practically demonstrated the great difficulties attending this resource for supplying rails. They must be often taken up in the vicinity of the enemy, who will of course prevent it if possible, and generally by soldiers unskilled in a work more difficult to the skillful than laying down the track, who rebel against such employment and will not be coerced by elective officers of a volunteer army. Before the battle of Fredericksburg General Lee's army, with all the aid the railroad company could give him, was occupied more than two weeks removing four miles of rails. It remains, then, that not less than 49,500 tons of rails annually, or 4,125 monthly, are needed, and urgently needed now, to the maintenance of the railroads of the Confederacy. Whence are they to be supplied? The railroad convention reply from one rolling-mill at Atlanta, now engrossed in Government work, and from the Tredegar Works here, now also equally engrossed with other Government work. There are none other in the Confederacy, and the efforts of railroad interests during the past two years have wholly failed to induce private capital to erect any others. No one has claimed for the Atlanta mill a capacity for making more than 10,000 to 12,000 tons of rails per annum, even when making nothing else. There is reason to believe this an extravagant estimate. One of the proprietors of the Tredegar Works informed me only last Monday that their two mills had never been able to make more than 8,000 tons per