Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

U.S. Military Academy West Point

17. October 1853


Surgeon J. M. Cuyler has been detailed as a member of the “Medical” Board to meet in the City of New York on the 1st Decr. next. The business usually presented to this Board detains it in session about two months & this Post will probably have the services of but one Surgeon at during that time. The duty in my opinion is too much for one to perform, & in the event of his becoming sick or disabled, there is no means of obtaining proper medical assistance whatever may be the emergency. Last spring during a temporary leave of absence of Dr. Cuyler, the Asst. Surgeon Dr. Simons, in the effort to perform the duties devolving on him, after he himself was sick, became extremely ill; & though Dr. Cuyler returned immediately when notified, it was impossible during the interval to obtain the services of a Physician either for Dr. S. or the Cadets or others requiring medical aid.

Two officers were successively dispatched to the City of New York to procure a Physician, without effect & had it not been for the kindness of Dr. Murray of the Army, who procured a friend to attend to his own duty in New York, & came up two nights to our relief, the sick would have been without any attention whatever. Several Cadets & Soldiers were sick in Hospital at the time, & some extremely ill. The duties & exposure of the Cadets, as well as of the officers & Soldiers, render them liable to accidents & ailments, which require prompt and skilful attention, & which in the absence of a regular Surgeon of the Post, I find it impossible to provide. The Surgeons themselves require occasional relief & relaxation from duty which I am indisposed to grant, unless their place can be supplied by a competent Physician. My object is therefore to ask whither the Surgeon Genl. cannot without detriment to the service make some provision to meet these emergencies, & to request that some one be ordered here temporarily during Dr. Cuyler’s absence, & that he report by the 25th Inst: to enable me to grant a short leave of absence to Dr. Simons, previous to Dr. Cuylers departure.

I have the honour to be. Very resply Your obedt. Servt.Sig/ R. E. Lee Br. Col:
Supt. Mil: Acady

Superintendent’s Daily Correspondence
United States Military Academy

Superintendent’s Letter Book No. 3, p. 62. Addressed “Genl: Jos G. Totten Chief Engineer Washington City D.C.”