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The Daily Correspondence of Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee Superintendent, U. S. Military Academy September 1, 1852 to March 24, 1855

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Technical Report

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Robert E. Lee served as the Superintendent of West Point from 1852 to 1855. The following pages contain the transcription of his daily correspondence entered into the Superintendents Letter Book No. 2 and No. 3, now located in the Special Collections and Archives Division of the United States Military Academy Library. Until now, this collection has only been available in its original manuscript or photocopy form, limiting its availability. The library staff and the editors hope that by reformatting this valuable collection, it can be more readily accessible to researchers. Lees personal life and his military career have been the focus of countless studies. Recently, probably as a reaction to Hollywoods attention to the Civil War, books have been appearing that highlight Lees leadership principles and package his personal experiences and maxims as lessons to live by. Since his death in 1870, Americans have continuously studied, analyzed, glorified, and even deified the military hero of the Lost Cause. The nation remains fascinated with Robert E. Lee. One aspect of Lees career that has had very little attention is his tenure as Superintendent at West Point. A few years of quiet, uneventful duty at the Academy, between his glorious, career-launching exploits in the Mexican War and his legendary command of the Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War, have seemed barely worth mentioning. Yet his daily correspondence during his time at West Point offers a unique approach to understanding Lee, not just as an exalted leader of men in battle, but as a personas a man of principle and compassion, two qualities that clashed at times. These entries will help to refine the portrait that an army of biographers and scholars has painted of Lee over the years. While carrying out the mundane duties of garrison life at West Point, Lee unknowingly set down in writing some exquisite samples of his personality and of his leadership style.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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