Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

U.S. Military Academy West Point N.Y.

Jany. 9, 1855


I regret to report that on the 1st Inst. a disturbance occurred in the Cadet Mess Hall at dinner, with was disreputable to the Corps & Academy.—It commenced by Cadet Gay of the 1st Class, offering violence to Cadet Captain Bryan while in the execution of his office, as Commandant of the Mess Hall; & for a time could not be suppressed by the efforts of the Cadet Officers.—Cadet Captain Bryan in the hope of allaying the excitement, & from a mistaken view of his duty, was induced to leave the Hall, & relinquished the command of the Battalion, to the second in command. For this he has been deprived of his appointment. Cadet Gay was subsequently placed in arrest by the Officer of the Day & after a time order was restored. This is the second time that Cadet Gay has been charged with a violation of the 9 Art. Of the Rules & Articles of War.

On the first occasion, 9 Dec. 1852, he was suspended by sentence of a Genl. Court Martial (See S. Order No. 26, 11 Feby. 1853) & restored to the 2nd Class 1st July 1853. He does not seem to have profited by the leniency then shown him, but his repeated the offense; yet as far as I am able to judge, not in the same or a more aggravated form, & I therefore do not feel justified in exercising the authority granted in the 137 par: Academic Regns, but think it best, if it meets with your approbation to ask for a Gel. Court Martial for his trial; where at the same time, others who have offended less gravely may receive that punishment due to their offenses.

I enclose a report from the Commdt. of Cadets of this date, who has been engaged since the occurrence in investigating the facts of the case; but in consequence of his attendance upon the Examination now in progress, has not been able earlier to present them. I think it unnecessary to forward the statements referred to from the Cadet Officers.

I have the honour to be with great respect Your Obt. Servt.Signed/ R. E. Lee Br. Col.
Supt. Mil. Acady.

Superintendent’s Daily Correspondence
United States Military Academy

Superintendent’s Letter Book No. 3, pp. 172–73. Addressed “Genl: Jos: G. Totten Chief of Engineers Washington City D.C.”