Robert E. Lee

G. M. Conrad

U.S. Mil: Acady. West Point

10 Feby 1853


I had the honor to receive yesterday, by Mr. J. P. Sherburne, your letter of the 4th Inst:, in reference to his recent dismissal from the Mily. Acady. The official record of his delinquencies was submitted to his inspection & he has handed me this morning the accompg excuses, which in obedience to your directions are forwd. to the Dept. Some are now presented for the first time. Others are the repetition of those rendered at the proper time, with the present endorsement of the reporting officers. The whole are arranged in the manner thought best calculated to save trouble in their review.

Should all be considered satisfactory, the amount of his demerit would be reduced to 82. Should only those be considered valid, now favorably recommended by the reporting officers, it will be reduced to 102. Should he receive credit for none, the amount of his demerit will be 126.

Upon referring to the members of the Academic Board, the majority of those who voted for is discharge, state they were not influenced by any consideration of his conduct, but purely by his want of proficiency in his course & the belief that he could not eventually master it.

The three others state they did take his conduct into account in forming their opinion, but in connection with the facts, that he had been once before turned back in his course (having taken 2 years to his 3d class course), was now deficient in Chemistry—poor in Phily, & in their opinion would not be able to succeed in June, if allowed to continue with his class.

My opinion is therefore, that the decision of the board would have been the same, had his demerit been reduced to the stated minimum of 82, under all the circumstances of his case.

I ought to state in justice to Mr. Sherburne, that before the decision of the Academic board had been made, he applied to me for permission to hand in some further excuses for his delinquencies. But I considered the time had passed for their consideration.

The report for the year had been closed & forwd to Washington. There must be a limit to everything, Every delinquency against a Cadet is published on parade on two successive evenings. Their excuses are submitted when necessary to the reporting officers, & are examined by the Commandant of the Corps & the Supt:.

The official record of those not removed, is exposed every day to the inspection of Cadets,& two weeks is given to the reconsideration of any further excuses they may have to offer. It is their own fault if any stand against them to which they are not entitled.

I will state also that subsequent to the examination of Mr. Sherburne, he presented to me the accompg Statement of the 18th Jany., which I laid before the Board while his case was under consideration. Upon reference to the Official register, it was ascertained that since the 1st Sept. at different periods in the months of Sept. Nov. & Decr. he had missed recitations on 14 days & was in hospital at no one time more than 4 days. His complaint being Catarrh, It was thought his indisposition was not of that nature to prevent his studying & that it ought not to excuse his deficiency.

I believe every circumstance was considered by the board before coming to their decision, & I regret that the result was not more favorable to him.

I have the honour to be 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. 322–23. Addressed “Honble G. M. Conrad Secy. of War Washington City D.C.”