Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

U.S. Mil: Academy West Point

1 April 1853.


I have recd. your letter of the 28th Ulto:, relative to the propriety of granting the same leaves of absence to those Cadets who enter the Academy in Sept. as are extended to the rest of their class who are admitted in July.

I think it important that every Cadet should serve three encampments, & have the benefit of the Military instruction taught at those periods; & the loss of this instruction, during the first encampment, forms great objection to their admittance at any other time, than the 1st of July. But unless those Cadets who under the Regns may be admitted on the 1st Sept. receive a leave of absence with their class at the period of its third encampment, they must be deprived of it altogether. For during the period of the second encampment, their first, their class is instructed in practical Arty., in addition to camp duties & other military exercises; and their fourth & last encampment is devolved to the study of Infty. Tactics, Arty & practical Engineering. At neither of these encampments could they with propriety be absent, or without disadvantage to themselves.

At the time of framing the Regns on the subject, the loss of instruction during the first encampment, & the favour of being admitted on the 1st Sept., might have been considered a fair offset to the indulgence granted the rest of the class, & still is of weight. But at that time a subsequent leave of absence might be granted them without injury.

These reasons I presume have induced the practice mentioned in my letter of the 25th; and upon further investigation, I have found the record of a letter from Major Delafield to the Dept: of the 26th June 1839; & the sanction of the Secy. of War requested in that particular case, contained in the last paragraph of your reply of 2nd July, copies of which I enclose, which I infer has been taken as a precedent in all subsequent cases.

A leave of absence to the Cadets once during their academic term, I think a benefit. It is a great gratification. Its prospect holds out encouragement to better behavior; & its enjoyment has a tendency to enlarge their ideas; ameliorates many contracted notions, & renders them more happy & contented during the rest of their course.

Should you therefore think it preferable to amend par. 79 of the Regns to continuing the practice pursued under the former sanction of the Secy of War I offer for your consideration, in compliance with the tenor of your letter of the 28th Ulto:, a substitute for the 2nd proviso of said par:. viz: “Provided further that no Cadet shall be allowed but one leave of absence, & that every Cadet before graduating shall have served at least two entire encampments

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. 3, pp. 17–18. Addressed “Genl: Jos: G. Totten Chief Engineer Washington City DC”