General Order No. 9

Navy Department,
April 2, 1863.

[To Be Observed in the Navy of the United States in Relation to Paroles]

RULES

To be observed in the Navy of the United States in relation to Paroles.

1. Paroling must always take place by the interchange of signed duplicates of a written document, in which the names and rank of the persons paroled are correctly and distinctly stated. Any one who intentionally misstates his rank forfeits the benefit of his parole, and is liable to punishment.

2. None but commissioned officers can give the parole for themselves and their command, and no inferior officer can give a parole without the authority of his superior, if within reach.

3. No paroling of entire bodies of men after a battle or capture, and no dismissal of large numbers of prisoners with a general declaration that they are paroled, is permitted, or will be considered of any value.

4. An officer who shall give a parole for himself or his command without referring to his superior, when it is in his power to do so, will be considered as "giving aid and comfort to the enemy," and may be considered as a deserter, and be punished accordingly.

5. For the officer, the pledging of his parole is an individual act; and no wholesale paroling by an officer for a number of inferiors in rank, in violation of Article 1, is permitted, or will be considered valid.

6. No non-commissioned or warranted officer, or seaman, or private marine, or other person belonging to the Navy, can give his parole except through an officer. Individual paroles not given through an officer are not only void, but make the individuals giving them amenable to punishment as deserters. The only admissible exception is when individuals, properly separated from their commanders, have suffered long confinement without the possibility of being paroled through an officer.

7. No prisoner of war can be forced by the hostile government to pledge his parole, and any threats or ill-treatment to force the giving of the parole is contrary to the law of war.

8. No prisoner of war can enter into engagements inconsistent with his character and duties as a citizen and a subject of his State. He can only bind himself not to bear arms against his captor for a limited period, or until he is exchanged, and this only with the stipulated or implied consent of his own government. If the engagement which he makes is not approved by his government, he is bound to return and surrender himself as a prisoner of war. His own government cannot, at the same time, disown his engagement and refuse his return as a prisoner.

9. No one can pledge his parole that he will never bear arms against the government of his captors, nor that he will not bear arms against any other enemy of his government not at the time the ally of his captors. Such agreements have reference only to the existing enemy and his existing allies, and the existing war, and not to future belligerents.

10. While the pledging of the military parole is a voluntary act of the individual, the capturing power is not obliged to grant it.

11. Paroles not authorized by the common law of war are not valid until approved by the government of the individual so pledging his parole.

12. The pledging of any unauthorized military parole is a military offence, punishable under the common law of war.

These rules will be read at General Muster on board of every vessel of the Navy, and will be hereafter strictly observed and enforced.

Gideon Welles,
Secretary of the Navy.