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Robert E. Lee

Margaret Hetzel

West Point

31 Jany. 1855

My dear Mrs. Hetzel

I am disturbed to find that in addition to the pain & anxiety you must naturally feel at the situation of your son; you entertain the fear that his conduct has been disreputable.

I beg you will dismiss such apprehensions from your mind. He has been careless, inattentive & inconsiderate; regardless of the regns. of the Acady.; but his offenses have been against good order & military discipline & not affecting his moral character. I trust his present lesson may teach him to correct his thoughtlessness, & that neither you nor he may ever suffer from it again. As regards the list of his delinquencies which you desire; I have sent a copy to Genl. Totten with that of others in his position; which you can no doubt inspect if you wish it.

You will find them of the character I describe, & I think it unnecessary to multiply copies, of what had better be forgotten than remembered.

I hope you will not allow yourself to be too much disturbed on his account. He is young, of fine capacity, & can succeed in whatever he applies himself to. There are many other professions that will bring him a richer reward, & advance him higher, than the military. You must therefore take comfort, & encourage him to apply himself diligently to whatever he may undertake; provided the decision in his present case may be unfavourable to him.

Wishing him every success & happiness & believing you will have in him much comfort.

I remain very truly & sincerely yoursSigned R. E.Lee

Superintendent’s Daily Correspondence
United States Military Academy

Superintendent’s Letter Book No. 3, p. 181. Addressed “Mrs. Margaret Hetzel Washington City.”