FIFTH Congress, Session III, Volume 1, Chapter 24.
An Act for the government of the navy of the United States.
Section 1. Be it
enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
Article 1. The commanders of all ships and vessels belonging to the United States, are strictly required to show in themselves a good example of honor and virtue to their officers and men, and to be very vigilant in inspecting the behavior of all such as are under them, and to discountenance and suppress all dissolute, immoral, and disorderly practices, and also such as are contrary to the rules of discipline and obedience, and to correct those who are guilty of the same, according to the usage of the sea service.
The commanders of the ships of the
3. Any person who shall be guilty of profane swearing, or of drunkenness, if a seaman or marine, shall be put in irons until sober, and then flogged if the captain shall think proper; but if an officer, he shall forfeit two days' pay, or incur such punishment as a court martial shall impose, and as the nature and degree of the offense shall deserve.
4. No commander, for any offence, shall inflict any punishment upon a seaman or marine beyond twelve lashes upon his bare back with a cat of nine tails, and no other cat shall be made use of on board any ship of war, or other vessel belonging to the United States; if the fault shall deserve a greater punishment, he is to apply to the Secretary of the Navy, the commander‑in‑chief of the navy, or the commander of a squadron, in order to the trying of him by a court‑martial; and in the mean time he may put him under confinement.
5. The commander is never by his own authority to discharge a commission or warrant officer, nor to punish or strike him, but he may suspend or confine him, and shall report the case to the Secretary of the Navy, or commandant of a squadron, as soon as he arrives in port, if at sea, or if in port in ten days, in order that a court‑martial may decide on the offence.
6. The officer who commands by accident in the captain or commander's absence, (unless he be absent for a time by leave,) shall not order any correction but confinement, and upon the captain's return on board shall then give an account of his reasons for so doing.
7. The captain is to cause the articles of war to be hung up in some public place of the ship, and read to the ship's company once a month.
8. Whenever a captain shall enter or enlist a seaman, he shall take care to enter on his books the time and terms of his entering, in order to his being justly paid.
9. The captain shall, before he sails, make return to the Secretary of the Navy a complete list of all his officers and men, with the time and terms of their entering, and during his cruise or station shall keep a true account of the desertion or death of any of them, and of the entering of others, and after the expiration of the time for which they were entered, and before any of them are paid off, he shall make return of a complete list of the same, including those who shall remain on board his ship.
10. The men shall, at their request, be furnished with slops that are necessary, by order of the captain, and the amount delivered to each man shall be regularly returned by the purser, so that the same be stopped out of his pay.
11. All officers, not having commissions or warrants, (or appointed commission or warrant officers for the time being,) are termed petty or inferior officers.
12. Whenever an inferior officer, seaman, or other person, be turned over into the ship of a commander other than the one with whom he entered, he is not to be rated on the ship's books in a worse quality, or lower degree or station, than he served in the ship he was removed from; and for the guide of the captain, he is to demand from the commander of the ship from which such person or persons were turned over, a list under his hand, of his or their names, and the quality in which he or they served.
13. Any officer, seaman or other person, entitled to wages or prize money, may have the same paid to his assignee, provided the assignment be attested by the captain and the purser; but the captain or commander of every vessel in the service of the United States is to discourage his crew from selling any part of their wages or prize money, and never to attest the letter of attorney until he is satisfied that the same is not granted in consideration of money given for the purchase of wages, or shares of prize money.
14. When any person dies, the captain is forthwith to have his name entered on the books of the ship, in order to the wages being forthwith paid to his executors or administrators.
15. A convenient place shall be set apart for the sick or hurt men, to which they are to be removed, with their hammocks and bedding, when the surgeon shall advise the same to be necessary, and some of the crew shall be appointed to attend them, and keep the place clean; cradles and buckets with covers shall be made for their use, if necessary.
16. All ships furnished with fishing tackle, being in such places where fish is to be had, the captain is to employ some of the company in fishing. The fish to be daily distributed to such persons as are sick, or upon recovery, provided the surgeon recommend it, and the surplus, by turns, amongst the messes of the officers and seamen, gratis, without any deduction of their allowance of provisions on that account.
17. It is left to the discretion of commanders or squadrons to shorten the allowance of provisions according to the exigence of the service, taking care that the men be punctually paid for the same; the like power is given to captains of ships acting singly, where it is deemed necessary; and if there should be a want of pork, the captain is to order three pounds of beef to be issued in lieu of two pounds of pork.
If any ship of the
19. The captain frequently are to cause to be inspected the condition of the provisions, and if the bread proves damp, to have it aired upon the quarter deck, and other convenient places, and in case of the pickle being leaked out of the flesh casks, he is to have a new pickle made and put therein, after such casks are repaired.
20. The captain shall cause the purser to secure the clothes, bedding, and other things, of such persons as shall die or be killed, to be delivered to their executors or administrators.
21. All papers, charter‑parties, bills of lading, passports, and other writings whatsoever, found on board any ship or ships which shall be taken, shall be carefully preserved, and the originals sent to the courts of justice for maritime affairs, appointed, or to be appointed, for judging concerning such prize or prizes, and if any person or persons shall wilfully or negligently destroy or suffer to be destroyed any such paper or papers, he or they so offending shall forfeit his or their share of such prize or prizes, and suffer such other punishments as they shall be judged by a court martial to deserve; and if any person or persons shall embezzle or steal, or take away any cables, anchors, sails, or any of the ship's furniture, or any of the powder, arms, ammunition, or provisions of any ship belonging to the United States, or of any prize taken by a ship or ships aforesaid, or maltreat or steal the effects of any prisoner, he or they so offending shall suffer such punishment as a court martial shall order.
22. When in sight of any ship, ships, or other vessels of the enemy, or at such other times as may appear necessary to prepare for an engagement, the captain shall order all things in his ship in a proper posture for fight, and shall, in his own person, and according to his duty, heart on and encourage the inferior officers and men to fight courageously, and not to behave themselves faintly or cry for quarters, on pain of such punishment as the offence shall appear to deserve for his neglect.
23. Any captain, officer, or other person, who shall not exert himself, or who shall basely desert his duty or station in the ship, and run away while the enemy is in sight, or in time of action, or shall entice others to do so, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as a court martial shall inflict.
24. Any officer, seaman, mariner, or other person, who shall disobey the orders of his superior, or begin, excite, cause, or join in, any mutiny or sedition in the ship to which he belongs, or in any other ship or vessel in the service of the United States, on any pretence whatsoever, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as a court martial shall direct; and further, any person, in any ship or vessel belonging to the service aforesaid, who shall utter any words of sedition and mutiny, or endeavor to make any mutinous assembly on any pretence whatsoever, shall suffer such punishment as a court martial shall inflict.
25. None shall presume to quarrel with or strike his superior officer, on pain of such punishment as a court martial shall order to be inflicted.
26. If any person shall apprehend he has just cause of complaint, he shall quietly and decently make the same known to his superior officer, or to the captain, as the case may require, who shall take care that justice is done him.
27. There shall be no quarrelling or fighting between shipmates on board any ship belonging to the United States, nor shall there be used any reproachful or provoking speeches, tending to make quarrels and disturbances, on pain of imprisonment, or of such punishment as the captain or a court martial shall judge proper to inflict.
28. If any person shall sleep upon his watch, or negligently perform the duty which shall be enjoined him to do, he shall suffer such punishment as the captain or a court martial shall inflict.
29. All murder shall be punished with death.
30. All robbery and theft, not exceeding twenty dollars, shall be punished at the discretion of the captain, and above that sum as a court martial shall inflict.
31. Any master of arms, or other person of whom the like duty may be required, refusing to receive such prisoner or prisoners, as shall be committed to his charge, or having received them shall suffer him or them to escape, or dismiss them without orders from his captain, the commander‑in‑chief of the navy, or the commander of a squadron, for so doing, shall suffer in his or their stead as a court martial shall order and direct.
32. The captain, officers, and others, shall use their utmost endeavors to detect, apprehend, and bring to punishment, all offenders, and shall at all times readily assist all officers and others appointed for that purpose, in the discharge of such duty, when it is required, on pain of being proceeded against and punished by a court martial at discretion.
33. If any officer whatsoever, mariner, marine, soldier, or other person, belonging to any ship or vessel of war in the service of the United States shall give, hold, or entertain, intelligence, to or with any enemy or rebel, without leave from the government, commander‑in‑chief, or, in case of a single ship, from his captain, every such person so offending, and being thereof convicted by the sentence of a court martial, shall be punished with death.
34. If any letter or message from an enemy, or a rebel, be conveyed to any officer, mariner, or marine, or other person, belonging to any ship or vessel in the service of the United States, and the person aforesaid shall not, within twelve hours, having opportunity so to do, acquaint his superior or commander‑in‑chief with it; or if any superior officer, being acquainted therewith, shall not in convenient time reveal the same to the commander‑in‑chief, commander of a squadron, or other proper officer, appointed to take cognizance of such offence, every such person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of a court martial, shall be punished with death, or such other punishment as the nature and degree of the offence shall deserve, and according to the sentence of a court martial.
35. All spies, and all persons whatsoever who shall come or be found in the nature of spies, to bring or deliver any seducing letter or message from an enemy or rebel, or endeavor to corrupt any captain, officer, mariner, marine, or other person, in the fleet, to betray his trust, being convicted of any such offence by the sentence of a court martial, shall be punished with death, or such other punishment as the nature and degree of the offence shall deserve, and the court martial shall impose.
36. No person in a fleet, or in a single ship or vessel, shall supply an enemy or rebel with stores, money, victuals, arms, ammunition, or any kind of stores, directly or indirectly, upon pain of death, or such other punishment as a court martial shall think fit to impose, and as the nature and degree of the crime shall deserve.
37. Every person in or belonging to any ship or vessel in the service of the United States, who shall desert or run away with any vessel or boat, to the enemy or otherwise, or with any effects of the United States whatsoever, or yield up the same cowardly or treacherously, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as a court martial shall inflict.
38. The officers, seamen, etc., of all ships appointed for convoy and guard of merchantmen, shall diligently attend upon that charge without delay, according to their instructions, and whosoever shall be faulty therein, shall be punished as a court martial shall direct.
39. If any captain, commander, or other officer, of any ship or vessel in the service of the United States, shall receive or permit on board his vessel any goods or merchandise, other than for the sole use of his vessel, except gold, silver, or jewels, and except the goods and merchandise of vessels which may be in distress or shipwrecked, or in imminent danger of being ship wrecked, or in order to preserve them for the proper owner, without legal orders from the naval department, every person so offending, being convicted thereof by the sentence of a court martial, shall be cashiered, and be forever afterwards rendered incapable to serve in any place or office in the navy service of the United States.
40. There shall be no wasteful expense of any powder, shot, ammunition, or other stores, in the vessels belonging to the United States, nor any embezzlement thereof, but the stores and provisions shall be carefully preserved, upon pain of such punishment, to be inflicted upon the offenders, abettors, buyer and receivers, as shall be by a court martial found just in that behalf.
41. Every person in the navy who shall unlawfully burn or set fire to any kind of public property, not then appertaining to an enemy, pirate, or rebel, being convicted of any such offence by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.
Care shall be had in steering and conducting every ship belonging to the
43. Every officer or other person in the navy, who shall knowingly make or sign a false muster, or procure the making or signing thereof, or shall aid or abet in the same, shall be cashiered, and rendered incapable of further employment in the navy service of the United States, and shall forfeit all the pay and subsistence money due him.
44. Every person guilty of mutiny, desertion, or disobedience to his superior officer on shore, acting in the proper line of his duty, shall be tried by a court martial, and suffer the like punishment for every such offence, as if the same had been committed at sea, on board any ship or vessel of war in the service of the United States.
45. If any person, belonging to any ship or vessel of war in the service of the United States, shall, when on shore, on duty or otherwise, plunder, abuse, or maltreat, any inhabitant, or injure his property, in any way, such person shall be punished as a court martial shall direct.
All faults, disorders, and misdemeanors, which shall be committed on
board any ship belonging to the
47. No court martial, to be held or appointed by virtue of this act, shall consist of more than thirteen, nor less than five persons, to be composed of such commanders of squadrons, captain, and sea lieutenants, as are then and there present, and as are next in seniority to the officer who presides; but no lieutenant shall sit on a court martial held on a captain, or a junior lieutenant on that of a senior.
Every member of a court martial shall take the following oath: "I,
A. B. do swear, that I will well and truly try and impartially determine the
cause of the prisoner now to be tried, according to the rules of the navy of
49. The sentence of a court martial for any capital offence shall not be put in execution until it be confirmed by the commander‑in‑chief of the fleet. And it shall be the duty of the president of every court martial, to transmit to the commander‑in‑chief of the fleet, and to the head of the Navy Department, every sentence which shall be given, with a summary of the evidence and proceedings thereon, as soon as may be.
50. The commander‑in‑chief of the fleet, for the time being, shall have power to pardon and remit any sentence of death, in consequence of any of the aforementioned articles.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That if any person in the navy service, being called upon to give evidence at any court martial, shall refuse to give his evidence upon oath, or shall prevaricate in his evidence, or behave with contempt to the court, it shall and may be lawful for such court martial to punish such offender by imprisonment, at the discretion of the court; such imprisonment, in no case, to continue longer than three months; and that all and every person and persons who shall commit any wilful perjury in any evidence or examination upon oath at such court martial, or who shall corruptly procure or suborn any person to commit such wilful perjury, shall and may be prosecuted in any of the courts of the United States by indictment or information. And all and every person, lawfully convicted upon any such indictment or information, shall be punished with such pains and penalties as are inflicted for the like offences by the laws therein provided.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That in all cases where the crews of the ships or vessels of the United States shall be separated from their vessels, by the latter being wrecked, lost, or destroyed, all the command, power, and authority, given to the officers of such ships or vessels, shall remain and be in full force, as effectually as if such ship or vessel was not so wrecked, lost, or destroyed, until they shall be regularly discharged from the service of the United States, or removed into some other of its said ships, or until a court martial shall be held to inquire into such loss of the said ship or vessel; and, if upon inquiry, it shall appear by the sentence of the court martial, that all or any of the officers, seamen, marines, and others, of the said ship or vessel, did their utmost to preserve, get off, or recover, the said ship or vessel, and after the loss thereof did behave themselves obediently to their superior officers, according to the discipline of the navy, and the said article and orders hereinbefore established, then all the pat and wages of the said officers and seamen, or such of them as shall have done their duty as aforesaid, shall continue and go on, and be paid to the time of their discharge or death; and every such officer or seaman who, after the wreck or loss of his said ship or vessel, shall act contrary to the discipline of the navy, or to the articles hereinbefore established, or any of them, shall be sentenced by the said court martial, and be punished, as if the ship to which he did belong was not so wrecked or destroyed.
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That all the pay and wages of such officers and seamen of any of the ships of the United States are taken by the enemy, and upon inquiry at a court martial shall appear, by the sentence of the said court, to have done their utmost to defend the ship or ships, and since the taking thereof to have behaved themselves obediently to their superior officers, according to the discipline of the navy, and the said articles and orders hereinbefore established, shall continue and go on as aforesaid, until they be exchanged and discharged, or until they shall die, whichever may first happen: provided always, that persons flying from justice shall be tried and punished for so doing.
Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That all captured national ships or vessels of war shall be the property of the United States; all other ships or vessels, being of superior force to the vessel making the capture, in men or in guns, shall be the sole property of the captors; and all ships or vessels of inferior force shall be divided equally between the United States and the officers and men of the vessel making the capture.
Sec. 6. And be
it further enacted, That the produce of prizes taken by the ships of the
1. To the captain actually on board at the time of taking any prize, being other than public or national vessel, or ship of war, three‑twentieths of that proportion of the proceed belonging to the captors.
2. If such captain or captains be under the immediate command of a commander‑in‑chief, or commander of a squadron, having a captain on board, such commander‑in‑chief, or commander of a squadron, to have one of the said twentieth parts, and the captain taking the prize, the other two‑twentieth parts.
3. To the sea lieutenants and sailing master, two‑twentieths.
4. To marine officers, the surgeon, purser, boatswain, gunner, carpenter, master's mate, and chaplain, two‑twentieths.
5. To midshipmen, surgeon's mates, captain's clerk, clergyman or schoolmaster, boatswain's mates, gunner's mates, carpenter's mates, ship's steward, sailmaker, master‑at‑arms, armorer and cockswain, three‑twentieths.
6. Gunner's yeoman, boatswain's yeoman, quarter masters, quarter‑gunners, cooper, sailmaker's mates, sergeant of marines, corporal of marines, drummer and fifer, and extra petty officers, three‑twentieths.
7. To seamen, ordinary seamen, marines, and boys, seven‑twentieths.
8. Any officer on board having more posts than one, is only entitled to the share belonging to his superior office, according to the regulations aforesaid.
9. Whenever one or more ships of the United States are in sight, at the time of any one or more other ships as aforesaid are taking a prize or prizes, or being engaged with an enemy, and they shall all be so in sight when the enemy shall strike or surrender, they shall share equally, according to the number of guns and men aboard each ship so in sight; but no privateer or armed ship, being in sight of a national ship of war at the taking of any prize, shall be entitled to any share in such prize or prizes.
10. Commanders of ships of war taking any prizes are to transmit, as to as possible, to the naval department, a true list of the officers and men actually on board at the taking of such prize, inserting therein the quality of every person's rating; and the department aforesaid is to examine the said list by the ship's muster book to see their agreement, and is to grant certificates of the truth of such list transmitted, in order that the agents appointed by the captors make payment of the shares agreeably to this act.
11. In order to define the rights and privileges of commanders‑in‑chief, commanders of squadrons, and captains, in relation to captures, no commander‑in‑chief, or commander of a squadron, shall be entitled to receive any share of prizes taken by the ships of war of the United States that are not put under his immediate command, nor of such prizes as may have been taken previous to such ship's being placed under his command, and until they have acted under his immediate orders; nor shall a commander‑in‑chief, or commander of a squadron, returning home from any station where he had the command, have any share in prizes taken by ships left on such station after he has got out of the limits of his said command.
12. Captains, sailing especially under orders from the Navy Department, are clearly to be understood as acting separately from any superior officer.
13. The bounty given by the United States on any national ship of war taken from the enemy, and brought into port, shall be for every cannon mounted, carrying a ball of twenty‑four pounds or upwards, two hundred dollars; for every cannon carrying a ball of eighteen pounds, one hundred and fifty dollars; for every cannon carrying a ball of twelve pounds, one hundred dollars; and for every cannon carrying a ball of nine pounds, seventy‑five dollars; for every smaller cannon, fifty dollars; and for every officer and man taken on board, forty dollars; which sums are to be divided agreeably to the foregoing articles.
Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That, for the ships or goods belonging to the citizens of the United States, or to the citizens or subjects of any nation in amity with the United States, if retaken from the enemy within twenty‑four hours, the owners are to allow one‑eighth part of the whole value for salvage; if after twenty‑four hours and under forty‑eight, one‑fifth part thereof; if above that and under ninety‑six hours, one‑third part thereof; and if above that, one‑half; all of which is to be paid without any deduction whatsoever, agreeably to the articles heretofore mentioned.
Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, That every officer, seaman, or marine, disabled in the line of his duty, shall be entitled to receive for his own life, and the life of his wife, if a married man at the time of receiving the wound, one‑half his monthly pay.
Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That all the money accruing, or which has already accrued, from the sale of prizes, shall be and remain forever a fund for the payment of the half pay to the officers and seamen who may be entitled to receive the same; and if the said fund shall be insufficient for this purpose, the public faith is hereby pledged to make up the deficiency; but if it should be more than sufficient, the surplus shall be applied as Congress may hereafter direct by law, to the making of further provision for the comfort of the disabled officers, seamen, and marines, and for such as may not be disabled, who may merit by their bravery, or their long and faithful services, the gratitude of their country.
Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That the said fund shall be under the management and direction of the Secretary of the Navy, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of War, for the time being, who are hereby authorized to receive all such sums as the United States may be entitled to from the sales of prizes, and to invest the same, and the interest arising therefrom, in such of the six per cent. or other stock of the United States, as a majority of them from time to time shall determine to be the most advantageous; and it shall be the duty of the said commissioners to lay before Congress, every year, in the first week of their annual meeting, a minute and correct statement of their proceedings in relation to the management of said fund.
Sec. 11. And be it further enacted, That no rules or regulations, made by any commander‑in‑chief, or captain, in the service of the United States, for the stationing, designating of duty, and government of the fleet, or any of the crews of any ship of war, shall be at variance with this act, but shall be strictly conformable thereto; and that every commander‑in‑chief and captain, in making private rules and regulations, and designating the duty of his officers, shall keep in view also the custom and usage of the sea‑service most common to our nation.
Approved, March 2, 1799.