Robert E. Lee

C. M. Conrad

US Mil: Acady West Point

29 Dec. 1852


I recd. yesterday by the hands of Cadet Hancock your letter of the 24th Inst: in reference to his recent suspension by sentence of a Genl. Court Martial. The offence for which he was tried having been committed previously to my coming to the Acady on duty. I requested him to hand me a statement of the circumstances not presented at his trial, which might have mitigated the sentence of the Court, with the names of the Cadets whose testimony he desired.

The accompg communication from him, has been presented to me this morg. & the statement of Cadet Plummer the only witness he adduced in reference to the facts charged against him, is appended.

The truth of these facts is not denied, not is the original offense diminished by the testimony of Cadet Plummer; but it seems to be considered a just cause for mitigation of punishment, that the memory of the witness had been refreshed by the subsequent conversation of the parties concerned. How far this would have operated on the Court, I cannot say.

It would have given me pleasure to have been able to present to you any evidence disproving the offense charged against Cadet Hancock, or any facts tending to palliate his conduct or that of his associates, so as to have lessoned your unpleasant recollection of behavior so disreputable to the Corps of Cadets. But I know of none, & Cadet Hancock has not brought any to my notice. I cannot therefore see any distinction between his case & that of the other Cadets convicted of the same offence, nor can I with justice recommend any change in his punishment.

In reference to his general deportment, previous to this transaction, I thought it unnecessary to take additional testimony, I know of no previous act of his deserving of suspension or dismissal, & wish to know of none. The official records of the Academy show none, & none are charged. Neither do I know of any against those similarly punished, & that you may be able to compare his general conduct with theirs, I append a statement of each, taken from the official register of delinquencies.

Amt: of demerit during the1st year  95  49  32
           [Ditto]2d    “136116  62
           [Ditto]3d    “121197197
           [Ditto]4th   “181189153
Total to the time of suspension533551444

I do not see that his conduct entitles him to any peculiar indulgence over the others, or that he has any claim to a milder sentence than they have recd & regret that I have been able to bring forward nothing more favorable in his case.

I remain very resply. Your obt Servt(Signed) R E Lee Br. Col.
Supt: Mil: Acady

Superintendent’s Daily Correspondence
United States Military Academy

Superintendent’s Letter Book No. 2, pp. 309–10. Addressed “Hon: C. M. Conrad Secry of War Washington DC.”