Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

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

17 Jany 1855


In executing the directions contained in your letter of the 15th Inst. in reference to the Cadets of the 4th & 5th Classes, not proficient in their course at the present semi-annual Examination; I did not offer to Cadets M.S. Anderson & J.D.V. Tate the privilege of resigning, which it may have been your intention to have extended them. The former you will perceive by the report submitted by the Academic Board, had recorded against him to the 15 Dec. 302 demerit; & the latter 207. The custom has been, not to extend this privilege to those who have recd. over the amount of demerit, that under the Regns. would require their discharge; formerly this limit was 200 in 12 months; it is now 100 in six.

If some inducement to good behaviour is not held out to those, whose success at the examination may be doubtful, or failure certain; I fear it may have the effect of making them entirely reckless & indifferent to order & discipline. If however it is the intention to extend this privilege in future to all, it is not too late to do so. I will therefore wait your instructions on the subject. The resignation of the others are herewith forwd. for acceptance.

I remain very resp. 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, pp. 175–76. Addressed “Genl: Jos: G. Totten Chief of Engineers Washington City D.C.”