Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

U.S. Mil: Acady West Point

15 Feby. 1853


I have recd your letter of the 12th Inst. in reference to Cadet Craig. He is correct in his statement that he & his classmates are the first members of the 1st class that have been dismissed at the Semi annual examn. in Jany, since the regn. that formerly applied only to the 4th class, was amended on the 18th July 1849, to embrace all the classes. But they may be the first to whom it has been found necessary to apply it. They are certainly the first that since that time have been found deficient in Engineering at the Jany Exn. In Jany 1851 several of the 1st Class were declared deficient in Miny & Geoly, & one in Jany 1852. But under the belief that they could redeem their deficiency in that branch by June, they were not recommd. for discharge.

Cadets in the 2nd & 3rd. classes were however discharged under this amended regulation in Jany 1850 &’52. The whole Corps ought to have known of its existence & their liability under it, if not from these facts, from its publication, & the printed extracts from the Acady. regns which include the regn thus amended (in precisely the same words as par 63, proof sheets revised edition) that have been distributed to them. Although Cadet Craig might not have expected to come under the rule, I am inclined to think he knew of its existence, as after the standing of his class was published on parade, he enquired of me whether he had been recommended for discharge.

Cadets of the 1st Class are rarely deficient in their courses, but when so declared have been dismissed. In June ’48 & ’50, on the very eve of graduation, Cadets of the 1st Class pronounced deficient in Engineering were dismissed.

It is also no doubt true that in his opinion he might not be deficient in his course. His Profr. Had formed a different opinion from his daily recitation, & called the attention of the board to his examination at the time, that they might satisfy themselves. Unfortunately his examn. corroborated this opinion. He was found deficient by them and so declared.

They knew nothing of his conduct, nor were aware of the number of his demerit until some days subsequently. Though his conduct has not been marked by any grave offences, it has not been distinguished by attention to order or discipline & his amount of demerit for the half year is 147 at the same rate for the year, it would cause his dismissal.

I believe I can add nothing to what has been said but my opinion, that the board was governed in their recommendation of the discharge of Cadets Dwight, Craig & English, by what they considered the necessity of the case & the general benefit of the Cadets demanded.

I know it was with regret that Cadet Craig was included in this recommendation.

I have the honor to be very resy 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. 325–26. Addressed “Genl: Jos: G. Totten Chief Engineer Washington City D.C.”