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Opinion of the Court.
ing to within a few days' march of the city. During this invasion, thirteen bridges upon the main line and southwestern branch of the company's road were destroyed. General Rosecrans was in command of the Federal forces in the state, and some of the bridges were destroyed by his orders, as a military necessity, to prevent the advance of the enemy. The record does not state by whom the others were destroyed; but their destruction having taken place during the invasion, it seems to have been taken for granted that it was caused by the Confederate forces, and this conclusion was evidently correct. All the bridges except four were rebuilt by the company. These four were rebuilt by the government, and it is their cost which the government seeks to offset against the demand of the company. Two of the four (one over the Osage River and one over the Moreau River) were destroyed by order of the commander of the Federal forces. The other two, which were over the Maramec River, it is presumed, were destroyed by the Confederate forces.
Soon after the destruction of the bridges, and during the same month, General Rosecrans summoned to an informal conference, in St. Louis, several gentlemen regarded as proper representatives of the railroad company, being its president, the superintendent and the engineer of the road, and several of the directors. The court below makes the following finding as to what there occurred:
"By General Rosecrans it was stated that the immediate rebuilding of the bridges was a military necessity; that he should expect and require the company to do all in their power to put the roads in working order at the earliest possible moment; and that he intended to have what work they did not do done by the government, and withhold from the freight earnings of the road a sum sufficient to repay the government for such outlays as in law and fact it should be found entitled to have repaid.
"The gentlemen present assured General Rosecrans, that they would do all in their power to rebuild the bridges and put the roads in working order at the earliest moment, but they at the same time represented that several of the bridges,
Opinion of the Court.
as they believed, had been destroyed by the proper military authority of the United States, and that in such cases the government was properly responsible for the loss, and should replace the bridges. Those which the public enemy had destroyed they conceded that the company should replace.
"General Rosecrans replied in substance: 'Gentlemen, the question of the liability of the government for repairing damages to this road is one of both law and fact, and it is too early now to undertake the investigation of that question in this stirring time. I doubt myself whether all the damages which you say the government should be responsible for, will be found liable to be laid to the charge of the government. Nevertheless, whatever is fair and right I should like to see done. You tell me now, and I have been informed by some of your representatives individually, that the company's means are insufficient to make these large repairs and make them promptly. Therefore, I want to say to you that, as a military necessity, we must have the work done, and shall be glad to have the company do everything it can, and I will undertake to have the remainder done, and we will reserve out of the freights money enough to make the government good for that to which it shall be found to be entitled for rebuilding any or all of the bridges, and we will return the freights to you or settle with you on principles of law and equity.'
"The gentlemen interested in the company reiterated their view of the case, that the company should pay for bridges destroyed by the public enemy, and that the government should replace at its own cost the bridges destroyed by its own military authorities."
The court also finds that these mutual representations and assurances were not intended or understood on either side to form a contract or agreement binding on the government or the company; that no formal action upon them was taken by the board of directors; and that there was no proof that they were ever communicated to the directors, except as may be inferred from subsequent facts and circumstances mentioned; but that the company, through its directors and officers, promptly exerted itself, to its utmost power, to restore the
Opinion of the Court.
roads to running order, and to that end coöperated with the government.
At the same time, General Rosecrans informed the Secretary of War that the rebuilding of the bridges was "essential, and a great military necessity" in the defence of the state, and requested that Colonel Myers should be authorized "to have them rebuilt at once, the United States to be reimbursed the cost out of freight on the road." The Secretary referred the matter to the Quartermaster General, who recommended that General McCallum, Superintendent of Military Roads, be directed to take the necessary measures immediately for that purpose. The Secretary approved the recommendation, and General McCallum was thereupon ordered to cause the bridges to be rebuilt by the quickest and surest means possible. It does not appear that the company had any notice of these communications or of the order.
The bridge over the Osage River was destroyed on the 5th of October, 1864, by order of the officer commanding the central district of Missouri, acting under instructions from General Rosecrans to "use every means in his power to prevent the advance of the enemy." The court finds that the destruction was ordered for that purpose, and that the exigency appeared to the officer, and in fact was, of the gravest character, and an imperative military necessity. The government rebuilt the bridge, at an expense of $96,152.65; and this sum it seeks to charge against the company.
The bridge across the Moreau was also destroyed by command of the same officer, under the same military exigency. · The company commenced its reconstruction, but, before it was completed, the work was washed away by a freshet in the river. The government afterwards rebuilt it at an expense of $30,801; and this sum it also seeks to charge against the company,
The two bridges across the Maramec were destroyed during the invasion, as already stated, but not by the forces of the United States. They were, however, rebuilt by the government as a military necessity, at an expense of $54,595.24; and this sum, also, it seeks to charge against the company. The
Opinion of the Court.
Court of Claims allowed the cost of three of the bridges to be charged against the company, but rejected the charge for the fourth the one over the Osage River. The United States and the claimant both appealed from its judgment; the claimant, because the cost of the three bridges was allowed; the United States, because the charge for one of the four was disallowed.
The cost of the four bridges rebuilt by the government amounted to $181,548.89. The question presented is, whether the company is chargeable with their cost, assuming that there was no promise on its part, express or implied, to pay for them.. That there was no express promise is clear. The representations and assurances at the conference called by General Rosecrans to urge the rebuilding of the bridges were not intended or understood to constitute any contract: and it is so found, as above stated, by the court below. They were rebuilt by the government as a military necessity to enable the Federal forces to carry on military operations, and not on any request of or contract with the company. As to the two bridges destroyed by the Federal forces, some of the officers of the company at that conference insisted that they should be rebuilt by the government without charge to the company, and, though they appeared to consider that those destroyed by the enemy should be rebuilt by the company, there was no action of the board of directors on the subject. What was said by them was merely an expression of their individual opinions, which were not even communicated to the Board. Nor can any such promise be implied from the letter of the president of the company to the Quartermaster General in November, subsequent to the destruction of the bridges, informing him that the delay of the War Department in rebuilding them had prompted the company to "unusual resources"; that it was constructing the bridges over the Gasconade and the Moreau Rivers, and that the only bridge on the main line to be replaced by the government was the one over the Osage River, the company having replaced all the smaller, and was then replacing all the larger ones. The letter only imparts information as to the work done and to be done in rebuilding the bridges
Opinion of the Court.
on the main line. It contains no promise, as the court below seems to have thought, that, if the government would rebuild the bridge over the Osage River, it should be reimbursed for any other it might rebuild on the main line of the company. Nor do we think that any promise can be implied from the fact that the company resumed the management and operation of the road after the bridges were rebuilt; but on that point we will speak hereafter. Assuming, for the present, that there was no such implication, we are clear that no obligation rests upon the company to pay for work done, not at its request or for its benefit, but solely to enable the government to carry on its military operations.
It has been held by this court in repeated instances that, though the late war was not between independent nations, yet, as it was between the people of different sections of the country, and the insurgents were so thoroughly organized and formidable as to necessitate their recognition as belligerents, the usual incidents of a war between independent nations ensued. The rules of war, as recognized by the public law of civilized nations, became applicable to the contending forces. Their adoption was seen in the exchange of prisoners, the release of officers on parole, the recognition of flags of truce, and other arrangements designed to mitigate the rigors of warfare. The inhabitants of the Confederate States on the one hand, and of the states which adhered to the Union on the other, became enemies, and subject to be treated as such, without regard to their individual opinions or dispositions; while during its continuance commercial intercourse between them was forbidden, contracts between them were suspended, and the courts of each were closed to the citizens of the other. Brown v. Hiatts, 15 Wall. 177, 184.
The war, whether considered with reference to the number of troops in the field, the extent of military operations, and the number and character of the engagements, attained proportions unequalled in the history of the present century. More than a million of men were in the armies on each side. The injury and destruction of private property caused by their operations, and by measures necessary for their safety and