Robert E. Lee

Russell Sage

U.S. Mil. Acady. West Point

25 Dec. 1854


I have had the honour to receive your letter of the 25th Inst. in reference to the demerit of your nephew Cadet R. H. Sage, which I regret to say, from the 15th July (when they began to count against him) to the 15 Dec; amount to 167.

You may be aware that these marks of demerit represent the offenses of which a Cadet may be guilty, against the discipline & regns. of the Acady. That they are considered at the time of their commission, with such explanation & excuse as may be offered by the Cadet, by the Commdt. of Cadets, who erases such as he may think undeserved.—After having been acted on by him, they are forwarded to me, accompanied by the written excuses for final examination; & in my capacity as Supt. I remove all that I can find just cause for so doing. Although the marks of demerit of your nephew have gone through this examination, it is possible some may be found on the final statement prepared for the Academic Board at the examination now close at hand; that can with propriety be removed, but I see no possibility of the amount being reduced below 100, which would be necessary to relieve him from the penalty of the Regns., to which you refer. If the amount of his demerit should exceed 100, the Academic Board have no discretion, but are obliged to declare him deficient in conduct.

I also regret to inform you that he has made so little progress in his studies, that in the opinion of his Prof: there is no probability of his being able to pass his examination in Math, & that he is therefore in equal danger of being declared deficient in that branch.- I would advise therefore that if upon correspondence with your nephew you should be satisfied as to the probabilities of his failure that he be allowed to resign before the examination, as it would no doubt save him mortification & be more agreeable to his friends.

I will give me pleasure to do anything in my power for the benefit of your nephew, & I very much regret being obliged to give you so unfortunate a report of his prospects. Every consideration admissible with the discipline of the Acady. & justice to others, has been extended to him; & will be continued as long as he remains.

I am very resp. your obedt ServtSigned R. E. Lee Br. Col.
Supt. Mil. Acady.

Superintendent’s Daily Correspondence
United States Military Academy

Superintendent’s Letter Book No. 3, pp. 164–65. Addressed “Honble. Russell Sage House of Reps. Washington City D.C.”