Robert E. Lee

William Wilkins

U.S. Military Acady. West Point

20 Jany. 1855

My dear Sir.

I have had the honour to receive both of your letters of the 17th Inst.

The second was not necessary to inform me of the writer of the first. The evidence of character assured me of the author; though I had not the pleasure of seeing Mr. Magee when he left it at my quarters. I beg you will feel no hesitation in addressing me on any subject in which I can serve you. Your wishes will have all the force with me as had formerly your orders; & I shall be too happy if I can comply with the former; as promptly as it was my duty to have performed the latter.

In the present case I regret to say I can do nothing. The question is settled; & were it not, it is one in which my agency could have no effect. Your young friend J.G. McConnell, as I informed his father on the 15th inst: was in no danger on account of his demerit, but had failed in his studies, Math—& English.

He made little progress in them from the beginning, whether he was too young, & his mind not sufficiently developed to master them; or that he was unaccustomed to applying his facilities; or found them unpalatable, I cannot say. His conduct was not objectionable at any time, & I very much regret that he did not better succeeding his academical course. This was a branch in which on one could aid him but himself. The Regns. require a certain proficiency, which in the opinion of the Academic Board he did not attain, & which as required by the Regns. was reported to the War Dept:—

In consequence of his proper deportment at the Acady., he was allowed to resign. Now left the Point, & I hope is safe at home. I can appreciate the disappointment of his father & friends, & sincerely sympathize in it. He must not however attach any discredit to his son, he has incurred none; & if he has made an honest effort to succeed he is entitled to as much credit as though he had. I endeavoured to explain the matter to M. Magee, as well as his time would allow; for finding his young friend had left the Point, he determined not to remain.

I remain Sir,with much 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. 179. Addressed “Honble. Wm. Wilkins Homewood, near Pittsburgh, Penna.”