Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

U.S. Military Academy West Point.

4 March 1853


In compliance with your instructions of the 18th ulto: I submit the following changes in the Revised Edition of the Regulations of the Mil: Acady., the proof sheets of which are in your possession.

Par. 61 (Substitute) “any Cadet found deficient in his studies at the Annual examination, shall not be admitted to the next higher class, but his case shall be presented to the Secy of War, to the end that he be discharged; and if in the opinion of the Academic board, there should be any circumstances entitling him to indulgence, they shall be reported to the War Dept: [see form C.].[”]

Par. 64. (Strike out the words from ‘Candidate to or’ inclusive, so that it shall read) “no Cadet discharged from the Academy, or otherwise separated from it, &c. &c.”. There will then be nothing forbidding the reexamination of any Candidate in the last week of August. If this in your opinion, does not cover the case, then the Proviso of Secy Spencer must be added to the Par. as it now stands.

Par: 219 (add) “Provided, that by such answer he will not incriminate himself.”

Certificates of proficiency are invariably given to Cadets who resign before graduating, no mention of the practice however is made in the old regns & it has been overlooked in the new. It is therefore proposed to add to par: 174 “Upon the acceptance of the resignation of a Cadet by the Secy of War, a certificate of his proficiency, in his Academic & military exercises, will be furnished him by the Superintendent.” This conforms to the present practice.

The course of instruction laid down in the revised edition, conforms to that now taught, & to the best of my knowledge has been from time to time, sanctioned & ordered.

Should these alterations meet your approval, please have the necessary corrections made in the proof sheets. I have endeavoured in carrying out your instructions, to economize space, so as not to break up paragraphs or pages; & have to request that in any further changes you may find necessary, that regard may be had to the same.

As there are no copies of the regns for distribution either to Cadets or Officers, & as some of the Professors have never received one since their appointment I am anxious to publish the new edition for the benefit of the Academy and the Board of Visitors on their arrival, that they may understand the organization & object of the Institution. The printer is only waiting for the sanction of the Secy of War to strike off the edition.

Should the proviso proposed to par. 219 be added, I think it will be advisable to state what is understood by “self examination. Whether the acknowledgement of the violation of a regulation or order as regards police or duty which would render the perpetrator liable to demerit or punishment, is so considered, or whether the principle stated by Secy Spencer in his letter of 5 Jany 1843 is to govern. The Cadets will understand it in the first sense, & I fear will carry that understanding into the performance of all their duties. The officer of the day will not be able to answer the official questions of the Commandant of the Corps, touching his tour of duty, for fear of criminating himself. The Orderly Sergeants will not be able to report the presence of their companies at roll calls for the same reason. The Sentinals, cannot give account of the state of their posts to the inspecting officer, on the same ground, & so on throughout; & to be satisfied that the prescribed duties of each are performed, the Officer responsible for its performance, must see it executed himself. I wish the Cadets to know what is required, & that I may know the intention of the Dept:, so as not to demand more than is authorized.

I consider it my duty, to answer every official question, concerning the duties for which I am accountable, put to me by my superior having cognizance of, or responsibility for the execution of that duty, though such answers may cost me my commission in the Army. This will illustrate my understanding of self examination in a military sense, & you can see whether such is the interpretation to be given to the proviso in question or not.

I am very respectfully Your obedt ServtSigned) R E. Lee. Bct: Col:
Supt: Mil: Acady.

Superintendent’s Daily Correspondence
United States Military Academy

Superintendent’s Letter Book No. 3, pp. 5–6. Addressed “Genl: Jos: G. Totten Chief Engineer Washington D.C.”