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Robert E. Lee

H. C. VanSchaack

U.S. Military Academy West Point

27 Dec. 1852

Sir.

I recd this morning your letter of the 23d. & regret to say that I see no probability of your son passing his probationary examination in January. I presume that he has himself abandoned all expectation of doing so, from the manner in which he has neglected his studies latterly; & during the past week, though on his last review, his daily recitation mark was 0.

It is owing perhaps to the same cause that he has accumulated so rapidly the amount of demerit you refer to, & although he has not committed any serious offense, he has almost entirely neglected his duties, so that his demerit to this date amounts to 257. You are aware that the regulations require when a Cadet receives over 200 demerit in any one academic year, that his case should be reported to the Secy of War by the Academic Board, with a view to his dismissal from the service. He has therefore incurred the penalty of dismissal from this cause, independently of a want of proficiency in his studies.

Under these circumstances I see no advantage in his awaiting the examination, or remaining longer at the Academy, & it would save him mortification perhaps, as well as be more agreeable to his friends, if he were allowed to resign.

I do not know whether under the circumstances his resignation would be accepted by the Secy of War, but if you decide that it would be the more desirable mode of withdrawing him from the Academy, & send me your approval, I will transmit it to the Dept. & recommend its acceptance. I think you are correct in your opinion that his physical constitution is hardly equal to the performance of his duties, nor perhaps is his mind yet sufficiently developed to master his studies.

I am not able to tell you exactly the state of his accounts. The date of his resignation, could probably be dated ahead to cover his indebtedness at the Academy, & the only difference there would be to him in a pecuniary point of view, is, that if dismissed he would be allowed his transportation home. If he resigns now he would not.

I am very resply Your 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, pp. 307–8. Addressed “H. C. VanSchaack Esq Manlius NY.”