Patton Family Letter, 1904

This letter was written by the father of George S. Patton to the VMI Superintendent.  Patton's son was a VMI cadet for one year (1903-1904) and subsequently transferred to West Point.

Office of Geo. S. Patton
Lake Vineyard
San Gabriel, Cal., January 22, 1904
General Scott Shipp

Supt. V.M.I., Lexington, Va.
My dear General:

I explained to you when I saw you that I confidently anticipated that my son would receive the Senatorial Appointment from California to West Point, to take effect next June and that I hoped he would be able to enter upon his certificate from V.M.I., which you stated was possible if his standing should prove to justify it. From the reports which I have received, I gather that his standing is sufficiently good to warrant me in feeling quite confident that he can pass into West Point next spring with your certificate.

In the meantime, a complication has arisen the result of which is, that the Senator has felt himself obliged, instead of making an outright appointment, to call for an informal competitive examination of several applicants for his appointment, and has set February 15, in Los Angeles, as the date for this examination. From all the circumstances in the matter, and from some knowledge of the other applicants, I feel myself justified in believing that my son stands certainly the best chance of passing the required test which besides is only advisory to the Senator's judgment in the matter, he stating explicitly that he always considered not only the result of a mere mental test, but other qualifications of dignity, bearing, and antecedence indicating the probability of a successful applicant being a useful officer in the army. Under all these circumstances, I have written to my son, advising him to come home and stand the examination. He will apply to you for a furlough of thirty days, beginning about February 1st. This will enable him to arrive at home a few days before the examination and to recover from the fatigue of the trip, as well as to refresh himself upon the primary subjects in which he may be possibly examined. He will return to the V.M.I. immediately after the examination, and in case he is successful in the same and receives the appointment, will expect to go from there in due course to enter the academy in June.

I am enclosing a New York Draft to the order of the Treasurer of VMI for $290.00 of which $165.00 is to be applied in payment of the bill rendered with the last report of my son, and the other $125.00 to be handed by you to him when his furlough is granted, with which to purchase his ticket and pay his traveling expenses home.

If appointed to West Point, I shall regret, in many ways, that he is not able to continue the full course at Lexington, but as he has definitely decided upon an army career, I feel that he should not be denied the benefit which is conferred by graduation from West Point if it is possible for him to secure this advantage.

I am assuming somewhat in the foregoing that there will be no difficulty in his receiving a proper certificate from you, which will enable him to enter without presenting himself for the entrance examination on May 1st. If for any reason I am mistaken in this assumption, you will, of course, notify me so that I may guide myself accordingly and have him make some preparation for the necessary entrance examination in May.

I am writing my son fully on even date, and he will doubtless call upon you, and I would be greatly obliged for such advice as you may be able to give him in the premises.
I am
Yours very sincerely,
Geo. S. Patton


It seems highly probable that for some years to come the number of appointments to the army from Civil life will be much fewer than for some years past. And this is one of the reasons I feel that my son should not miss the present opportunity.

As I am anxious to get this off today, and it is past banking hours, I am sending a personal local check instead of a N.Y. draft (the bank being closed for the day). I have added one dollar to the amt. making it $291 to cover exchange.