Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

U.S. Mil: Acady West Point

24 Jany 1853


The Fourth Class of Cadets has been divided into five sections, to begin the study of the French language, which course they have commenced since the semi annual Examination. The Prof. of French has been obliged to take one section, & each of his assistants two, in addition to the sections of the 3rd class under their charge. The recitations of the 4th Class in french, alternate with their recitations in English studies & only one hour in the afternoon can be allowed to a section in either so that each of the sections in french, have but 5 hours for recitation in every fortnight.

There are at present 77 members in the 4th Class, & the two first sections in French contain 16 each, & the three last 15 each. The Prof: informs me that with every exertion they can rarely take up more than half at each recitation.

You will therefore see what small facilities they have for learning the language. I know of no other way of increasing them, than by dividing the class into at least Seven Sections, as it is in Mathematics. But this will require one more Instructor, which I cannot provide from the Officers now at the Academy. I am therefore obliged to ask for the detail of another, & recommend for your favorable consideration, 2nd Lt: Edw R. Platt. of the 2nd Regt. Arty., as well calculated for the duty.

The 2nd Regt. has fewer officers on duty at the Acady. than either of the other Regts of Arty & Lt: Platt may be considered as supplying the place of Lt: Haines of that Regt. who has just been relieved from Academic duty.

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. 317–18. Addressed “Genl: Jos: G. Totten Chief Engineer Washington City DC.”