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Robert E. Lee

Reuben Willetts

U.S. Military Acady West Point

29 Jany 1853

My dear Sir.

I have recd. your letter of the 26th Inst. & truly sympathize in the disappointment of yourself & son, at the separation of the latter from the Mily. Acady. I wish I could give a more satisfactory reply, to your enquiry as regards his restoration; but the Regns. of the Acady prescribe, that Cadets discharged, or otherwise separated from it, shall not be reappointed or restored under any circumstances, unless it be recommended by the Academic Board; and requires the Board at each examination to present to the Secy of War a list of such Cadets, with an expression of its opinion on the merits of each individual, having reference to his return to the Academy. The report of the Board at the late Examn., I regret to say was unfavorable to the return of your son, not on account of his conduct, to which no exception could be made, but under the belief, that he would not be able eventually to succeed. I hope he will not let his disappointment in this instance, discourage him as to the future. But on the contrary, that it may stimulate him to greater exertion, & by showing him the importance of earnest application & ceaseless attention, it may secure him certain success in whatever walk of life he may think fit to pursue.

No discredit attaches to him for his failure, & he may in some other profession be more distinguished, as well as more useful to his country, than in that he had first chosen, & thus do equal honour to his name and lineage.

Trusting such may be the case, he has my best wishes for his success & I remain,

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, pp. 320–21. Addressed “Reuben Willetts Esq. Port Elizabeth. N.J.”