Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

U.S. Mil. Academy West Point

Sept. 1, 1854


I have recd. today your letter of the 30th ulto. forwd the decision of the Honble. Secy of War in reference to the selection of quarters at the Mil. Acady.

I understand his decision applies to all the officers of the Army on duty at the Mil. Acady. & deprives the officers at the head of Departments of the qrs. hitherto assigned them under former instructions of the War Dept. & that the Supt.; Inst. of Practical Engineering; Commdt. of Cadets & Inst. Of Arty & Cavalry, must select qtrs according to their rank. It may also be his intention to allow the Surgeons new quarters at the Hospital, & the Asst. Inst. Tactics quartered with their companies in the Cadets bk. to select qtrs according to their rank, but there is such a manifest propriety for these officers being confined to these quarters, that unless otherwise ordered, I shall under the authority of the 966 pas. of Genl. Regns. of 1841, relating to qtrs. appropriate them to them. I also understand by the decision of the Secy. that he intends to grant to the 1st Asst. Prof. a Captain’s allowance of qtrs to be selected their proper turn, under the rule he has laid down, & this will render necessary a new arrangement of qtrs into sets, as many of the 1st Lts will have priority of choice over them, & will consume the sets before their turn for selection. It may be the fairest mode of distribution to confine all the Army officers from the Supt: down to the regular allowance.

As my understanding of the Secy’s decision may not be the true one, & will deprive certain members of the Academic Board of the qtrs hitherto assigned them; & in this respect place them on an inferior footing to some of the civil members whom they rank, I am unwilling to act on it, until I am assured by you it is correct, or to cause any inconvenience that can be avoided.

I have therefore postponed the selection of qtrs which occurs on this day, until I can hear from you which I hope will be at your earliest convenience.

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

Superintendent’s Daily Correspondence
United States Military Academy

Superintendent’s Letter Book No. 3, p. 133. Addressed “Genl: Jos: G. Totten Chief Engineer Washington City D.C.”