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Robert E. Lee

Discussion in 'Battle of Gettysburg' started by Rwsunaf, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. Rwsunaf

    Rwsunaf Cadet

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    Is Lee still the only West Point Cadet to graduate w/o a single demerit in the Academy long history?
     

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  3. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    This was interesting question so did some researching. I found answer at Article: Dick King: Some academy graduates leave with no demerits. He actually checked West Point, Annapolis and the The Air Force Academy.

    West Point said there were two cadets who never had demerits. Actually they graduated the same year, 1829. They were:

    Charles Mason who graduated # 1 in class and had no demerits.

    Robert E. Lee who graduated # 2 and had no demerits.

    Of course we know who Robert E. Lee was. Charles Mason resigned his commission in the engineers after only 2 years to become a patent lawyer. He moved to Wisconsin. According to "Who Was Who in the Civil War", he was considered a copperhead, because he was Democrat who criticized President Lincoln.

    The Naval Academy's No. 1 graduate with no demerits was Jimmy Carter. He graduated in 1946 with no black marks. He served on active duty with the Navy until 1953 and later became the 39th president of U.S.

    The Air Force Academy said there were no records they could research.
     
  4. diane

    diane Colonel Forum Host

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    There were some others who received no demerits but not because they didn't get them. There was a means by which a student could perform some other tasks and have their records cleaned after a certain time. I'll have to do some research to find out how that could be done. Lee and Mason didn't need that bit of dispensation and it's a remarkable achievement. Things like having a little hair over one's collar, or being a minute late to dinner, having a fleck of dust on your shoes would all get you demerits.

    It's said Custer had the most on record! He racked up 90-95 every semester but stopped just short of the 100 that would get him expelled. So, he left the academy with well over 700 demerits!
     
  5. ole

    ole Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

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    Believe you're right, Diane. I've read that there were ways to get demerits expunged. Don't know where I read that, but I think it's true.

    In any event, I read the disparity between Lee (Mason) and Custer as one of total compliance with regulations. Some are built that way. Some are not.
     
  6. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    It said Custer had total of 726 demerits.

    Also read that cadet cleared their demerits by "walking off" the points on punishment tours. A cadet could erase one demerit for every hour marching a post. Maybe this is what you read.
     
  7. diane

    diane Colonel Forum Host

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    Yes, that sounds right! I was reading a bio of Jefferson Davis not too long ago and he was a little too fond of Benny Haven's when he was a cadet - seems he was able to work a few demerits off.
     
  8. ole

    ole Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

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    726 hours of walking would amount to how far?
     
  9. Nathanb1

    Nathanb1 Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    It was Custer. He probably cheated.
     
  10. FZ11

    FZ11 First Sergeant

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    Nobody,more brave than Custer.
     
  11. K Hale

    K Hale Colonel Civil War Photo Contest
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    The distance from West Point to the Little Bighorn River?

    Fitzhugh Lee had to walk off a lot of demerits, or he wouldn't have graduated. He was another one who was all about Benny Havens. Once he sneaked out of the barracks on some kinda visiting day by dressing as a girl and walking right past the sentry. I have never heard it explained whose clothes they were, however.
     
  12. FZ11

    FZ11 First Sergeant

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    If the outfit included a cape,I bet Jeb sent them to Fitz.
     
  13. Rwsunaf

    Rwsunaf Cadet

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    Believe it or not Donna I actually knew about Charles Mason But, did not know that he graduated with no demerits either! I wonder what he thought about Lee during the war?
     
  14. Nathanb1

    Nathanb1 Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    A very busty and buxom maiden, I suspect. :smile:
     
  15. K Hale

    K Hale Colonel Civil War Photo Contest
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    Yeah, he was a bit of a chubber. Cute little feller, though. The only figure from the era who actually looks ten years younger in his photos, rather than ten years older as is usual.
     
  16. J_Man0507

    J_Man0507 Cadet

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    It would be an interesting comparison to look at the demerit records of the Class of 1846 and see where they ranked, North and South. I know Pickett was last in his class, but that was partly because of his performance in class. Does anybody know of anyone who has done this type of comparison?
     
  17. FZ11

    FZ11 First Sergeant

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    It wasn't Pickett's fault. The perfume made him giddy in class.
     
  18. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    There is very interesting book,"Last In Their Class: Custer, Pickett and the Goats of West Point" by James S. Robbins. According to product description:

    "Today's Goat, the West Point cadet finishing at the bottom of his class, is temporary celebrity among his classmates. But in the 19th century, he was something of a cult figure. Custer's contemporaries at the Academy believed that the spirit of adventure that led him to carouse at local taverns motivated his dramatic cavalry attacks in the Civil War and afterwards. And the same willingness to accept punishment from Academy authorities also sent George Pickett into the teeth of the Union guns at Gettysburg. The story James S. Robbins tells goes from the beginning of West Point through the carnage of the Civil War to the grassy bluffs over the Little Big Horn. The Goats he profiles tell us much about the soul of the American soldier, his daring, imagination and desire to prove himself against high odds."

    Has anyone read this book? I am going to try to get it as sounds like a good read.

    James S. Robbins has a site at http://www.lastintheirclass.com/goatlist.html

    This has Goat Call List from West Point from 1818-1900. This lists each person who was last in his class from 1818-1900.

    I have not yet found list of entire ranking for each class, but am sure one is out there.
     
  19. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    The Goat (last) in Class of 1829 was Richard B. Screven. Will have to find out more on him. This was Mason's and Lee's class.
     
  20. FZ11

    FZ11 First Sergeant

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    Very interesting. Thank you.
     
  21. diane

    diane Colonel Forum Host

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    Thanks, Donna! That looks like a terrific book. Sometimes the last in the class isn't necessarily the worst! Jefferson Davis was court-martialed for a rather ragged trip to Benny Haven's - he won half his argument and wasn't dismissed. But, it showed a shade of things to come. His defense was 'strict constructionist' - which was, years later, primarily his view on states' rights. That had consequences later on! Pickett's demerits were mostly for cussing and smoking, Sherman's for sneaking forbidden treats, Hood's for messiness in his quarters, Grant couldn't seem to get to class on time, Stuart got into a lot of fights, Custer's - well, just about anything short of getting tossed! All of these 'bad boys' ended up distinguishing themselves during the Mexican War (except Stuart) and, in one way or another, during the Civil War.
     

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