1871 May 16. Peter Michie ALS to [Sterne A. Mason]; West Point, N[ew] Y[ork].
Regarding the admission application of Mr. Mason’s son. Assures him that his son will likely be admitted and that he will do well. If he graduates, he will have received a fine education and will come to appreciate the advantages of a West Point education. "I have examined him today in grammar and history and am satisfied of his proficiency." Michie writes that he will take an interest in the young man and will assist him all that he can. Tomorrow, he will examine the applicant in geography and arithmetic, and the next day in orthography, writing, and reading. He will let the father know the results of the examinations at the earliest date possible. Formal examinations begin June 01 and last three or four days.
1871 June 25. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Sterne A. Mason]; Camp Belknap, West Point, [New York].
Schedule of a typical day at camp. He has very little free time to write. Living conditions are crowded, with four men to a tent. Each cadet has a small box called a locker in which to keep clothes. Likes camp life better than life in the barracks. Daily schedule starts with reveille at 5am. They have five minutes to dress, followed by roll call, camp policing, squad drill, breakfast, parade, work "for some old cadet," squad drill, dinner, camp policing, squad drill, parade, supper followed by 9:30 pm tattoo roll call, 15 minutes to make down beds, undress, and get into bed. Class will begin to go on guard duty on 4th of July . Stanton will go on guard duty once in four days. Don’t have as much liberty as in barracks; cannot go beyond the guards around the camp. Wishes his father or uncle could visit. "I could get a permit and get out of camp which I would like to do." Has heard there has been a big row in Windsor [New York] about "the license question."
1871 June 27. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Sterne A. Mason]; Camp Belknap, West Point, [New York].
Writes to his father about being short of money. He would not have written about this had Colonel Piper not told him that he needs to deposit more money into his account. Most of those in his class have deposited about one hundred dollars; some have deposited as much as five hundred dollars. The treasurer told him that he must deposit about one hundred dollars; he has deposited fifty-five dollars and has another seven that he's not had time as yet to deposit. Regrets having to ask for money. "You need not send this unless you have the money." Quotes officers saying this is the best class ever been known to enter the Academy.
1871 August 30. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Sterne A. Mason]; Cadet Barracks, West Point, N[ew] Y[ork].
Very busy. Marched today into barracks in a very heavy rain. Glad father will be visiting soon; predicts his father will find West Point different from what he expects. Regretfully, asks for more money. Will begin studying on September 01 and continue until next camp. Nearly all the officers will be changed on September 1. Officers are strict; "I expect it will require plenty hard work to get through in consequence of the report given by the Committee sent here in June ... The officers are stricter than ever before."
1871 December 15. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Sterne A. Mason]; West Point, [New York].
Thank you for sending five dollars. "You spoke about my drawing money from the institution. We can never get money from it except on furlough or when we graduate." Father had informed him his class standing is 51, but Stanton explains that when class first began, class standing was arranged alphabetically. "Our marks did not begin to count for class standing until November 1." His standing is now about 35 out of a class of 84. A first-class man named received a letter from a man "in my District" named Edminster saying he'd been promised an appointment here and he wished to know when a vacancy became available. He said that he would write Edminster, telling him that there would not be a vacancy in under four years. Edminster is from Upper Lisle. The Superintendent is going to grant some Christmas leaves to cadets who live nearby. Exams begin January 2; will know by January 10 if I passed. His father must answer very soon if he wishes him to apply for a leave from December 23 to 26.
1872 February 22. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Sterne A. Mason]; West Point, [New York].
He is now living alone and likes it; he seldom gets reported for having a dirty room because the inspecting officer assumes that, living alone, his room must be in order. Has received very few demerits and has not "had an 'extra'" in two months. Asked Prof. Michie about taking his old roommate to prepare for examination. Missed parade while there. Enclosed is an "eagle" made of gold and silver wire for Mollie [not present]; Mother can sew it on Mollie’s hat. We wear them on our caps. Would like his parents to send him cuffs and a pair of sleeve buttons by mail. Asks for money. Asks to be sent Binghamton papers. Studies going well. Received a letter from Mother. In three months, he be a "yearling" and the "next batch of plebes will come." "You must be here to see me drill my squad," it will inspire in them a "dread of military discipline." Recalls how difficult drill was at the beginning and how sore he was.
1872 June 6. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Sterne A. Mason]; West Point, [New York].
Glad Mother is getting better and hopes to see her soon. Studies for the year are nearly done. Next week is the French examination; math examination the following week. Board of visitors arrived some days ago and "we are having drills and reviews for them." Secretary of War came today and Stanton was on the detail to fire the salute to him. Drills for plebes are twice a day. All this "takes up so much time, we have not time to get our lessons." Recitation today on "check" and general knowledge. Seventy were admitted to the new class. "The authorities I guess are bound to stop deviling. There have been 3 men put in arrest, one of whom will probably go away."
1872 August 7. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Sterne A. Mason]; Camp Thayer, West Point, [New York].
Apologizes for not visiting home. "Yearling camp" is almost finished and it has been "pretty good." His father should not worry about his demerits. Change in the Army uniform that makes it more showy than formerly. Stanton needs to attend two of the six daily hours of drill. A new officer gives commands "in a voice like that of a dog with a bone in his throat." Mr. Rose, Albert Buell, and sister came to visit; "you will likely see something about his visit in The Republican as Mr. Rose said something about writing a description of it they seemed to be very much pleased."
1872 November 17. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Sterne A. Mason]; West Point, [New York].
Everything is dull at this time of year; nothing to write about. The gas works are being enlarged so we have been using candles the past week. The horses here are unwell and cannot be ridden. Stanton would like them to stay that way for a considerable time as he and other cadets get "two hours every other afternoon to ourselves." Enclosed are pictures of a couple of his classmates [not present]. Stanton had some pictures taken; will send some of them home if they are good. Took pictures twice within a couple of weeks. Wishes he had one from home. Wishes his father would write at least once a week.
1873 March 30. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Sterne A. Mason]; West Point, N[ew] Y[ork].
Transferred up a section in Spanish; would like it if didn't have to go to drawing for two hours every day. Would rather spend 2 hours "in the pit" than attend drawing. Heavy rains; the snow is nearly gone. Expect to commence artillery drills this week.
1873 April 20. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Nancy Sage Mason]; West Point, N[ew] Y[ork].
Received a letter from Uncle John letting me know that Aunt P. would visit this month. Drills and parades every day. Doing well in his studies. Thinks he was 26 in math last month. Hoping to come out about 20 in examination standings. Expecting to have a pretty good time as "there are to be a good many here this spring that I know." Not getting many demerits; have not been in confinement or on punishment for a long time. Heard there was a flood in Broome County this spring. Please send addresses of Misses Alice Freeman and Louise Higby; wants to send them invitations to the ball. Finished calculus. Goes to surveying almost daily. Will graduate in mathematics, French, and Spanish this year. The course for next year is a compound of math "and everything ever heard of." Surveying is the "easiest" thing he ever studied.
1873 June 5. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Sterne A. Mason]; West Point, N[ew] Y[ork].
Can’t send more invitations to Mr. D. "Will send Mollie back hers if he has any friends he wishes to come with him I hope that he will bring them, but it is impossible for me to send any more invitations." Had a light battery drill before the board yesterday. Lots of smoke produced from firing so many cartridges. Stanton had to stand so near the piece -- within a foot of the breech when it was fired -- that he could scarcely hear afterward. This was his last light battery drill. The Secretary of War is here and the President will soon be here. Exam results and how many passed and got in. Uses a racial slur to refer to two who "got in." Tell Mother I cannot bring my drawings home. Had some splendid firing by the siege battery today.
1873 June 13. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Sterne A. Mason]; West Point, N[ew] Y[ork].
Writes he is no longer "a third class man." Only one class ahead. Went to the ball. Cash night. Had a splendid time. Will be examined in math tomorrow. The graduating class left today. The graduating class left today. The diplomas were awarded by the president. The Secretary of War and Sherman both made speeches. In order to have me go on furlough, parents will have to write a letter. He will have to send it with his application.
1874 March 9. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Nancy Sage Mason]; West Point, N[ew] Y[ork].
Was transferred to the second section in Philosophy last night. He thinks he’ll do well as he will be under the instructor who transferred him up before. He had been hoping for this. Have been studying most nights till 11 o’clock. Believes he deserves to have been transferred up in chemistry, also. This will make "quite a little change in my general standing in June providing I continue doing well." Expects to be through Tactics by the end of the month and "then I shall not have quite so much to do." Adds he is trying "to draw you some nice pictures this year".
Undated. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Sterne A. Mason]; West Point, N[ew] Y[ork].
Sorry that Uncle Rodney is sick. Have been having drills for the past two weeks preparing for trip to W. and expects that "we will be kept as close as here." If the corps is kept close there, "it will be the very worst thing that can be done as some men in the corps had just as soon ruin the reputation of the corps as not if they are kept close." After being here two or three years and soon to graduate, some get reckless "for being tied up so long and don’t care much what he does." Has gotten quite a number of demerits over the three months; writes he’s been very careful, but is unlucky. Thinks he has forty-nine demerits; writes it is very easy to chalk up that many demerits and "if you knew how easy it is to get this number, you would not blame me." Writes he is going to be very careful the next three months to get as few as possible. " Have been getting on well in studies since January . Wishes father would send him money before the trip to W. Would not ask if did not need it.
Undated. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Nancy Sage Mason]; West Point, [New York].
Sorry his mother is not coming to visit as soon as expected. Wants her to come this summer and bring Mollie. Have not heard from father; did not know he was "down the river" until heard it from his Uncle. "He wrote me a very kind letter [but] I cannot receive the package with the sugar...If you send it, write to me before you do so that I can put in a permit to receive it before it is sent." Sent an invitation to Libbie; going to send invitations "to all my... friends in Windsor." Writes that his mother would enjoy herself more if she came in June "for there will then be much more to see." Wishes to see his mother. Tattoo is being "beatin off and I must stop; am very sleepy." Will write again in a day or two.
Undated. Stanton A. Mason ALS to [Nancy Sage Mason]; West Point, [New York].
Received a letter from Uncle John; he wrote that mother is coming about May 1st. "Am very glad to know this." Asks that she write him to say on what day she expects to arrive so that he May put in for "my permit" in the morning. "I can be excused from every duty except recitations." Has just commenced one of the hardest studies -- "Descriptive Geometry." Has to study hard and "then don’t understand much about it." Asks that his mother bring him a little maple molasses if she can.