Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

U.S. Mil: Acady. West Point

31 Decr. 1852


I have the honor to transmit herewith plans & estimates for a Cavalry Exercise hall & stables for dragoon & arty horses, with a topogcal sketch of their location & position, called for in your letter of the 11th Inst. I can say nothing in regard to the necessity of these buildings that you are not already acquainted with, or which has not been previously stated.

The general plan of the Cavalry exercise hall is taken from the one at Saumur, France, & conforms to the requirements of experience & reason. It has been reduced in size to the wants of the Academy.
The plan of the stables, is taken generally from what has been practically found best in our own service, & has been adapted to the location of the proposed Cavalry hall. Experience has taught the advantage of having these buildings adjacent, & indeed in other services they have been sometimes placed under the same roof. The horses after severe exercise, heated and wet with perspiration, being brought suddenly into a freezing atmosphere, & carried some distance to a cold stable, become chilled & afflicted with every disease, produced by cold & check of perspiration, & are soon disabled & rendered unfit for service. The stables now at the Academy, in addition to their want of accommodation & dilapidated condition, as stated in my report of the 9 Oct. have perhaps the most disadvantageous position on the point—situated on the North side of a precipitous hill, they are exposed to all the cold winds & storms sweeping down the river; are shaded from the sun & light & shut out from a free uniform circulation of air, so necessary to the health of the horse. The horses are moreover obliged to cross & recross the plain in all weather & go some distance to their work.

The proposed site is sheltered from the north, open to the Sun & circulation of the air, & adjacent to their place of work.

In the event of the erection of these buildings on the site proposed, & of its being hereafter deemed necessary in the rebuilding of the Dragoon Barrack to place it near the stables, I have marked on the Topogcal plan, a convenient site, & forward a plan of a suitable building adapted to the location. No estimate for this building is submitted, as the object was to show that there is sufficient room on the ground for all the buildings that may be required, & that the whole will be convenient to the water & new wharf. The road to which will pass south of the Cavalry Exercise hall.

The plans of the Cavalry hall, Stables & Dragoon barrack, with the topcal. Sketch of the ground, & additions to the Professors quarters; have been placed in the hands of Major Porter, who will present them to you next week.

I am very respectfully. Yr. Obt. 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. 311–12. Addressed “Genl: Jos: G. Totten Chief Engineer Washington City D.C.”