Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

U.S. Mil: Acady West Point

21 June 1853


I have recd the letter of Geo: Gay & others asking permission to dig for money buried at West Point, which was referred to me on the 11th Inst: for a report.

As far as I could understand from Mr Gay, without wishing to ask for the exact locality of this treasure, the search will not disturb or jeopardize any of the public buildings or permanent fixtures of the post, & as he proposes it shall be conducted under the direction of the Superintendent, I see no injury that can result from the gratification of this curiosity.

As there is however a possibility of its existence, as well as some grounds for apprehending inconvenience, & as the treasure of any belongs to the owner of the land, under our laws, it would seem fair that a proper salvage be paid for its recovery. I would therefore suggest that permission be granted under the condition he proposed, & that 50 per cent of the value recovered be paid to the Post Fund of the Mily. Acady.

The letter of Mr Gay is herewith returned.

I have the honour to be Sir. your obedt Servt(Signed) R. E. Lee Br. Col:
Supt. Mil: Acady.

Superintendent’s Daily Correspondence
United States Military Academy

Superintendent’s Letter Book No. 3, p. 34. Addressed “Genl: Jos: G. Totten Chief Engineer Washington City D.C.”