Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

U.S. Mil. Academy West Point

23 February 1854


I have the honour to request that a Genl. Court Martial may be ordered to convene at this Post, for the trial of Private Chas Collins, Comp. “A” Engrs charged with Mutinous Conduct;

Private Richard Parker ditto charged with dis of orders &

Private H. Hess U.S.M.A. det: of dragoons, charg. With drunks. on duty.

I have also to report that on the 18th Inst. Cadet S.W. Ferguson of the 3rd Class in company with Cadets Barnes & Lord, attacked with a stick, Cadet J.A. Shoup of the 2nd Class, until arrested by Br. Capt. Coppee. The assault appears to have been unprovoked & deliberately planned; & whatever may have been the provocation, I can neither justify or extenuate the mode & manner of its execution; which I consider highly censurable & unbecoming the character of a soldier; & deserving the severest punishment prescribed in par. 129 Acad. Regns. As I have not the power adequately to condemn it, I beg leave to recommend should it meet your approbation; that the Genl. Court Martial I have requested; be constituted for the trial of Cadet S.W. Ferguson & such other persons as may be brought before it. I refer to the accomp’g report of the Actg. Comdt. Of Cadets for further particulars.

Cadets Barnes & Lord were declared deficient in their course at the late Jany examination, & perhaps their participation may have been partly owing to the uncertainty of their position. Several of those similarly situated have also been guilty of grave & serious offenses, but endeavouring to make allowance for their situation, & unwilling if possible, to add to their anxiety & discomfort; while awaiting the decision of the Dept. in their case; I have omitted to notice what otherwise I should have been compelled to prosecute.

It may be proper for me however to state Generally that they have been negligent of their duties, & their example & conduct of no benefit to the rest of the Corps. Some of them have entirely neglected both their studies & duties, & I doubt if these latter be allowed the opportunity, they could now retrieve their position.

I remain Very resply. Yr. obt Srvt.Signed/ R. E. Lee Br. Col:
Supt: Mil: Acady

Superintendent’s Daily Correspondence
United States Military Academy

Superintendent’s Letter Book No. 3, pp. 92–93. Addressed “Genl. J. G. Totten Chief Engineer Washington City D.C.”