General Order No. 131

Navy Department,
Washington, June 18, 1869.

[Economizing the Use of Coal]

It is very desirable that strict economy should prevail in the U. S. Naval service with regard to the use of coal. This item is becoming a great expense to the Government, and the Department considers that those vessels which are provided with full sail-power should not use their steam, except under the most urgent circumstances.

Commanders of fleets, squadrons, and of vessels, are therefore directed to do all their cruising under sail alone, which will not only have the effect to economize coal and save expense, but will aksi instruct the young officers of the Navy in the most important duties of their profession.

The Department has ordered all the vessels of the Navy to be fitted with full sail-power, and squadrons will be supplied with them as fast as they can be fitted at the different yards. When this is accomplished, the Department can see no reason why our vessels cannot do all their cruising under sail; and officers who fail to economize in this respect, will be closely questioned with regard to their reasons for such failure. It is not expected that the vessels now abroad, having no sail-power, can get along without the aid of steam, but sail must be used under all circumstances where it can be done to the greatest advantage.

Regulations, soon to be issued, will determine the number of times it will be desirable to get up steam for the purpose of turning the engines.

Commanders of fleets and squadrons will make a special report whenever steam is so raised or if it is not done will state the reason why. They will also make a special report to the Department of any extraordinary occasion when steam has been raised on board the vessels under their command.

They will state the number of hours' steaming from the time the fires were lighted until they were hauled, the number of tons of coal consumed and the distance run, state and direction of the wind, and what sail, if any, was set.

Commanders are not to make dispatch an excuse for using coal except under the most urgent circumstances.

They must not be surprised, if they fail to carry out the spirit of this order, if the coal comsumed [sic] is charged to their account.

A.E. Borie,
Secretary of the Navy.