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Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

U.S. Mil. Acady.

21 April 1854

General.

I have recd. your letter of the 17th Inst. & request to learn the decision of the Secy. of War, to relieve Br. Major Thomas from the charge of the Dept. Of Arty. before the completion of the present course of instruction of the classes under his care. I had hoped the necessities of service, could not have required the withdrawal at such a time, of the head of a Dept. which I fear will be as injurious to the Army as to the Academy.

The best arrangement I can propose under the circumstances for the continuation of the course of instruction, & the examination of the 1st Class of cadets, now near at hand, is to assign Br. Major Porter to the charge of that Dept. who previous to his appointment of Adjt. last fall, had been the Asst. Instr. of Arty since 1849. & ranks the officers now in the Dept. Lt. Fry the present Arty Intr. is ranked by Lt. Sacket the Asst. Instr. of Cavalry; has had no part in the instruction of the 1st Class; & is not as familiar with the course, mode of Examination & c. as Major Porter.

Should it be necessary to assign an officer not at the Acady. to this Dept. & to confine the selection to the 1st Lts. of the 1st & 4th Arty. I would recommend Br. Capt. Mansfield Lovell for the situation. Should the present bills however before Congress in reference to the Army be passed, his promotion if not accomplished would be so advanced, that he would probably be withdrawn by the time he became familiar with his duties.

In reference to the officer to relieve Lt. DuBarry; provided Lt. Palmer of the M. Rifles, as requested in my letter of the 17th be not detailed; & the selection confined as stated to the 1st & 4th Art. The Prof. of the French language can designate to me but 1st Lt. P.T. Wyman, 1st Arty. for the purpose. The pronunciation as well as knowledge of the language has to be considered in selecting an instructor in French.

In selecting officers to fill other vacancies that may occur at the Acady. as I am given to understand several men at the Acady. will apply to be relieved at the termination of the Academic Course; am I to look to the 1st & 4th Regts. Arty to replace them, or endeavour to apportion them as heretofore among all?

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, p. 101. Addressed “Genl: Jos: G. Totten Chief Engineer Washington City D.C.”