MY DEAR SISTER: . . . In your letter you allude to my demerit. I must say that it gave me the bluest kind of blues; not because it made me have any apprehension of being “found,” but because you look upon them in a wrong light. Now, I’ll disabuse you of this error. You use the term “bad marks.” Bad signifies to you, evil, wrong, immoral, and wicked, which placed before Marks signifies that I have been doing something wrong or immoral—something which conscience disapproves. That is wrong, not only in the sight of a military man, but of God. Now, what moral wrong is there in “laughing in the ranks,” in being “late at roll-call,” “not stepping off at command,” “not having coat buttoned throughout,” and kindred reports? Now is that wrong in the sight of God? I say, no! But it is wrong only in the sight of a military man, and it is from such reports that I get my demerits or “bad marks.” I can say I have never received an immoral report, such as “using profane language.” I thank you for the kind admonition, and to please you I will try to get as few as possible. I have only one so far this month, and if I get no more that will come off. I certainly shall be careful enough to prevent being cut a single day on furlough.
SOURCE: Peter Smith Michie, The Life and Letters of Emory Upton, p. 13-4