Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

US Military Academy West Point. N.Y.

9 Dec. 1852


Cadet Sill, whose conduct in failing to inspect his subdivision of Qrs. On the evening of the 20th Nov. & declining to answer as to the presence of Cadet Dwight at “taps”, I reported to you on the 30th ulto: acknowledged yesterday the error of his course & declared his readiness to answer the questions proposed to him. I thought proper to give him the benefit of correcting his error as far as he was able, but he was informed that the decision of his case was no longer under my controul, & had been submitted to the Dept: I enclose copies of his commn. of the 8th inst & of his answers to the questions of the Comdt: of Cadets. As my only object in recommending him to be punished, was to correct the offence of which he had been guilty, & to deter others from following his example. Should the Dept: think that this will be accomplished by his subsequent confession of error & compliance with his duty, I would resply. ask to withdraw my request in his case, & in consideration of his frank & manly repentance of his conduct, to recommend instead that he be reprimanded in orders & deprived of his appointment of Lt: in the Corps of Cadets.

His report of the absence of Cadet Dwight from his room at “taps” on the evening of the 20th & at morng police inspection on the 21st, with other evidence in his case, might fairly convict him of the act provided for in the 124 par: Academic Regulations, the penalty of which is dismissal from the service. Should it however not appear sufficiently clear & conclusive to the Dept:, as I consider both the welfare of the Cadets & the reputation of the Academy requires the practice of visiting New York which is said to have prevailed to a great extent, than supposed, should be entirely arrested. I must beg leave to refer you to the course recommended in my letter of the 30th Nov.

I am compelled to report another serious offense against military discipline. On the evening of the 5th inst: Cadet Captain Craighill, the Supt: of the Mess Hall was grossly assaulted by Cadet Gay of the 2d. class, in the presence of the Battalion of Cadets while at supper, & when he was “in the execution of his office”. I know of no apology for the conduct of Cadet Gay, & if it was caused, as is supposed by his having been reported the previous day, by the Supt: of the Mess Hall for a violation of discipline, it renders its punishment the more necessary, to prevent its repetition & to protect the Cadet Officers in the discharge of the duty required of them.

The 9th article of War makes such conduct a Capital Offence, the evidence in the case is clear & distinct, & unless it can be properly punished by the Dept: I must recommend that the offender be brought before a General Court Martial, a resort I like to avoid when it can be done with propriety. A copy of the report of Major Garnett in this case is herewith enclosed.

I have the honor to be Sir Very resply. Yr. obedt Servt(Signed) R. E. Lee Bvt Col
Supt: Mil: Acady

Superintendent’s Daily Correspondence
United States Military Academy

Superintendent’s Letter Book No. 2, p. 303. Addressed “Genl: Jos: G. Totten Chief Engineer Washington D.C.”