Custer, George A. (1839-1876) Autograph Letter Signed, West Point, New York, 6 April 1859. Laid paper bifolium inscribed over four unlined pages, 8 x 10 in., with original sealed envelope. To Minnie St. John, lamenting the five-year academic program at West Point, asking about mutual friends at home, discussing his preparations for exams, and joking about the length of the letter but asking for one of equal length in return. Envelope worn, letter very good with original folding creases and ink smudges.
"Dear Minnie, I received and read your welcome letter with great pleasure, and as you accuse me of writing short letters I concluded to commence one on as large a sheet of paper as I could find in my port-folio, whether I shall fill it remains to be seen. Although I (as usual) am enjoying the best of health, I have been very down hearted for a few days and not only myself but every cadet in the corps, are my companions in distress, the cause of it is this. I do not remember whether I told you or not last fall that the Secretary of War had changed the course here from five to four years early last fall, we were all very much pleased with that change but day before yesterday the Secretary of War transmitted the order here to change the course back again to five years notwithstanding the academic board were strongly in favor of the four years course, several cadets are going to resign in consequence of this change- - - if the course had not been changed I would have been half through when I went on furlough, we are still hoping that the War Department will be induced to change the course again, as the Professors are going to enter a protest against it- - - - - I noticed in the papers that there was a young man of the name of Baker appointed from the Monroe District instead of Norman Hall. - - - The boats have commenced running on the Hudson and everything looks lively and pleasant, causing me to long for the time to come which will find me in the City of Flowers.
I wish that in your answer you would tell me where I can find Henry when I go to Buffalo. I intend to stop a few days at Rochester as I have some relatives living there who I wish to see but have never seen, although I have corresponded with them for some time.- - - - - I am not certain but I do not think that any young lady in Monroe has received a letter of ten pages from me, I will not be positive about it.
In what part of the city is the Union School Building and how many teachers and pupils are there. Is William Strong as attentive as ever to Lottie or has she transfered her smiles to some more favored one. Do you still have singings or singing schools at the M.E. Church. I hope you do - - - - For examination will commence upon the first day of June, my time is now employed in studying Differential & Integral Calculus, French, Rhetoric, Drawing & Painting, together with Riding at Cavalry drills, Fencing, and Infantry and Artillery drills. We drill every evening with cannon that will carry balls three miles and a half. We will commence with the flying artillery in a few days,- - - - - My class (and I with the rest) have all commenced getting our new uniforms for furlough and it looks as if we would get home at last although the nearer the time approaches the more anxious I am for it to come. Have you ever seen our uniforms? Does Lottie know that we correspond with each other? I know that she thinks that Henry and I have been corresponding all [the] time. Is E. Boyd as strict with the young ladies as he used to be. If he is I hope that Henry and I can find some means to vex him next summer. Do you remember those handbills that Henry & I posted on the Seminary one night. I do not suppose he had any idea of the authors of it. I am afraid that I am making my letter too long you will not find any interest in it. You certainly cannot call it short now. I will expect a "really long" letter in answer to this, which will contain all the news of the young folks, enough to keep me in a "brown study" a week, but as you left it to me whether I should write a long letter or not, I will do the same with you, trusting to your generosity to send me a long one. Hoping to hear from you, soon remain, truly your friend &c., Armstrong"
Provenance: The Estate of David Spinney.
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