Robert E. Lee

Francis Winton

U.S. Mil. Acady West Point

19 Jany. 1855

My dear Sir

It gives me great pain to inform you, that your nephew Cadet Francis S. Winston has been declared deficient in conduct by the Acad. Board, at the Examination just closed, having recd for the six months ending 15th Dec. ’54 over 100 demerit (129); & in compliance with the Regns. of the Acady, recommended to the Secy. of War for discharge.

I assure you I regret extremely his position, & in the hope of relieving him, made a careful review of his record of delinquencies, but the little reduction I could find ground to make in the amount of his demerit, without doing injustice to others, was of no avail. Possessing fine capacity & much talent; he has other qualities, due perhaps to his birth & name; essential to the character of a good soldier; & I feel therefore more than personal regret at his having subjected himself to the severe penalty now hanging over him; & the more as I reflect how easy it would have been for him to have avoided it.

Whatever may be the decision of the Secy. of War in his case; I trust that he will not be discouraged at his present disappointment; but on the contrary be impressed with the necessity of strict attention to his duties through life.—Should that be the case, neither he or his friends will hereafter have cause to regret it.

Hoping you will pardon the liberty I have taken, of imparting to you intelligence which I know will occasion you sadness, & in which I sincerely sympathize.

I remain with great respect & esteem 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, p. 178. Addressed “Rev. Francis Winton D.D. Brooklyn N.Y.”