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Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

U.S. Mil. Acady.

7 April 1854

General.

I submit for your consideration a report of the Commdt. of Cadets on the subject conduct of Cadets Martin and Warner of the 4th Class which with the explanation of the former & the statement of Cadet Lieut. Mercer, present all the facts of the offence with which they are charged. I regret to state that I am forced to believe that Cadet Martin intended to deceive the Officer of the Day, & that in accounting for his absence from qrs. he did not state the truth. The expression “necessarily absent” has here but one significance in the sense he used it, & could not in the mind of Cadet Martin apply to the search for a pencil, or he would not have secreted himself from the Officer of the Day, in the room he visited for the purpose. I believe however Cadet Martin was led to the commission of so serious a fault by the momentary impulse to escape detection, & the want of reflection upon the consequences of his subsequent course. Although anxious to palliate their conduct, I cannot overlook the evil that may result, at any excuse or justification on my part of the slightest departure of any Cadet from the plain path of
uprightness & honour. It is painful for me to believe that any member of the Corps, could be guilty of the utterance or practice of a wilful falsehood, & if in your opinion the conduct of these young gentlemen in this instance does not admit of this severe imputation, I would ask they be not brought to trial on a charge so injurious to their own character, & so derogatory to that of the Corps of Cadets—but that the Dept. may place their conduct & its consequences in such a light that none may be at a loss to perceive how it is considered & the evil results of its being followed.

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

Superintendent’s Daily Correspondence
United States Military Academy

Superintendent’s Letter Book No. 3, pp. 97–98. Addressed “Genl: Jos: G. Totten Chief Engineer Washington City D.C.”