ALS signed “R. E. Lee,” one page, 5 x 7.75, September 7, 1855. Letter written from "Jefferson Bks: Mo.," to "Capt. G. W. Cullum," the compiler of the famous Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point. In full: "I sent you some time since such information as I was able to pick up for your forthcoming Register. I then informed you that I had hopes of getting some fact in relation to certain graduates who had friends in St. Louis, but except the acknowledgment of my application promises of returns I have as yet got nothing. As I shall have to leave in a few days for Ft. Leavenworth in a court martial & immediately in any action must make arrangements for our live march across the county to the upper frontier of Texas, we are ordered to move early in October. I have determined to send you and the only additional item, I have been able to pick up.
Gen'l Hitchcock writes me that his brother Samuel, No. 490, 'died at Sea returning from Europe 1 Aug 1851—His Career was that of a private man, extremely interesting to his friends, as being that of a genuine & truthful student, but of no importance to the Public.' Thus you see I have been able to give you data to fill but one blank, where I had hoped to furnish you with all touching his story.
Col. Johnston has not yet reached here—The Regt. is nearly full. We have no Surplus of Arms & horses since I last wrote, & I hope we shall be ready to arrive at the appa. time. It will not be for want of mementoes of our necessities from me if we do not. But it is hard to move the main springs at Wash'n.
Dr. Cuyler writes me that he has written to Mrs. C. to come with Col. Mansfield or Major Chase Ridgely & hopes she will reach St. Louis in time to come up with me. So do I. Good bye my dear Captain, take care of yourself." In very good condition, with creasing and soiling, small area of paper loss to the top edge of the last page, and fold separations repaired with old scotch tape.
In 1850, George Washington Cullum began a project to collect biographies of the first half-century of graduates from West Point, which had been officially formed in 1802. For easy reference he devised a system to number the graduates based in part on class rank and graduation year. In this significant letter, Lt. Col. Lee contributes to Cullum’s Register with notice of the death of Samuel Hitchcock (No. 490). Lee seemingly would have been an invaluable resource for biographical information, as he had just finished a three-year stint as the Military Academy’s superintendent. Promoted to field duty, Lee was named second-in-command of the newly created 2nd Cavalry Regiment in 1855, serving directly under Col. Albert Sidney Johnston, who he also mentions here. After training at Jefferson Barracks, Johnston, Lee, and their cavalrymen set out for Camp Cooper, Texas, charged with a mission to protect settlers attacks by the Apache and Comanche.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.