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12019 Lotus Niles, West Point Cadet, 2 ALS', one 4p, West Point NY, Oct. 31. 1873. and the
other a 1P follow-up letter. from Lotus Niles to Col. Thomas H. Ruger. The Pair $100
Lotus Niles, the author was a suspended West Pointer at the time of the writing. The recipient,
Maj. General Thomas H. Ruger, was the superintendant of West Point.
Mr. Lotus Niles, an alumni at West Point, was in a state of suspension from the school. He and a
number of other cadets had participated in a “whiskey ring” which involved the chief
consumption of strong spirits. After this, the cadet became at least a little unruly, conducting
himself in a manner most contrary to that by which a West Point attendee should. One of Niles’
most-stressed points was that he was the only one punished, and that the whole class looks upon
the instance as a gross injustice. In perhaps an act of mercy, Mr. Ruger only suspended the
young man. However, Lotus Niles was being counted upon by his family to graduate, for there
were five younger siblings that depended upon his support. The only means that the young man
had was the hospitality that West Point provided. Aside from this, he had no money other than
that which was brought to the school.
12020 Lotus Niles, West Point Cadet, ALS, 1p, West Point NY, Nov. 7. 1873., from Lotus Niles to
Col. Thomas H. Ruger.
This letter, being the follow-up to the letter above, possibly represents the most emotional
moment in one man’s life. Mr. Niles, was suspended as a result of a great offense. Mr. Niles’
previous letter, beseeching Mr. Ruger to change his punishment, had gone unanswered. Now, a
week later, the cadet writes again, in a decidedly desperate effort. The punishment levied was
especially severe to the particular case. Suspension dealt a grievous blow, as Mr. Niles relied
upon West Point’s enrollment to house and feed his five younger siblings. Family pressure and
responsibility goaded the young man into his present course. That course had yielded no fruit,
and this letter is a young man’s final and poignant effort to right his life. Niles surely spent much
time and emotion to word the document to convey his feelings.
Niles would go on to graduate, eventually working his way through the ranks up to Major in
1902, serving in the Artillery.