Robert E. Lee

Solomon W. Downs

U.S. Military Academy West Point.

1 Nov. 1853

My dear Sir.

The interest which I know you feel for your nephew Cadet J. B. Fort, induces me to take the liberty to inform you of my apprehensions of his failure at the approaching January examination, that you may use your influence in urging him to greater application. He is in the last sections of his class in Mathematics & French, & stands among the lowest in each branch. From my conversations with his Profr. in Mathematics I fear he does not exert himself sufficiently to master his course & that unless he applies himself with greater diligence, he may not acquire it before his examination. He has now two months, in which by proper exertion he might recover his position & secure himself against a failure, which would be I am sure, mortifying to himself & friends. I have thought it probable that he may have lost his desire to retain his position at the Academy, in as much as without having committed any serious offense against the Regns. he has become careless in his conduct & has incurred an amount of demerit over 100. Should this be the case, it may be more agreeable to his friends for him to resign, than to incur the risk & consequence of failure. I hope you will pardon the liberty of my suggestions, & attribute them to my earnest desire for the success & future benefit of your nephew.

I remain very resply. Your obt Servt.Sigd./ R. E. Lee. Br. Col:
Supt. Mil: Acady.

Superintendent’s Daily Correspondence
United States Military Academy

Superintendent’s Letter Book No. 3, p. 65. Addressed “Hon: Solomon W. Downs Monroe. Ouchata Co. Louisiana”