Navy Regulations for Ships Passing Washington's Tomb
Navy Regulations for Ceremonies for United States National Anniversaries and Memorial Day
"The ship was delayed by head-winds so that we did not reach Washington till late in May. We passed the frigate United States in the lower part of the Potomac. About 10 o'clock in the morning of a beautifully serene day, we passed Mount Vernon. Every one was on deck to look upon the dwelling where Washington had made his home. Mrs. Washington and others of the family could be distinguished in the portico which fronts the river. When opposite the house, by order of Captain Sever, the sails were lowered, the colors displayed half-masted, and a mourning salute of thirteen guns was fired as a mark of respect to the memory of Washington, whose life had so recently closed, and whose tomb was in our view. The general silence on board the ship and around us, except when broken by the cannon's sound, the echo and re-echo of that sound from the near and distant hills, as it died away in the distance, the whole ship's company uncovered and motionless, and the associations connected with the ceremony, seemed to make a deep impression upon all, as they did certainly upon me. When the salute was finished the sails were again set, the colors hoisted, and we proceeded up the river. The frigate New York had preceded us, without saluting, but we found her grounded on the bar at the entrance of the eastern branch of the Potomac, and the Congress, passing her, was the first ship of war that reached what has since become the Navy Yard at Washington. The frigates New York and United States joined us a few days afterwards."
"I am happy to have it in my power to say that I escaped in person and property all kind of injury and loss. The squadron lay at this place some days in its ascent and on its return, and yet I do not believe that during the whole time a single barge approached this shore. This distinguished forbearance I owe to the generous feelings of Commodore Gordon for a place which had once been the residence of my venerated Uncle. He expressed to one of the Alexandria commissioners, who was deputed to stipulate for the safety of the town, an anxious desire to visit this spot, but was so delicate as to declare his resolution not to do so, presuming that my official situation would render such a step peculiarly embarrassing & disagreeable to me. He further added that he would commit no act of hostility injurious to this place even though the militia should make their appearance on it. I have much reason to thank him for such sentiments & conduct, and should it ever be my good fortune to see him in peace here or elsewhere, I should be proud to give him proofs of my gratitude."
"Salutes on the 22nd of February, &c. On the anniversary of the declaration of independence of the Confederate States, and on the twenty-second day of February, the anniversary of the birth of Washington, a salute of twenty-one guns shall be fired at meridian from vessels in commission and navy yards." (Art. 25)
"Marine guard and band paraded; bell tolled and colors halfmasted at the beginning of the tolling of the bell. When opposite Washington's Tomb, buglers sound taps, marine guard present arms, and officers and men on deck stand at attention and salute. The colors will be mastheaded at the last note of taps which will also be the signal for 'carry on.' " (General Order No. 22, June 2, 1906)
31 March 1997