General Order
[Rules for Naval Communication]


GENERAL ORDER

1. All applications for the action of the Department by persons in the naval service, of whatever character, must be forwarded through the usual naval channels, or they will not be entitled to consideration.

2. Discussions of military or naval movements by officers in the presence of the crew or their attendants, should be carefully avoided.

3. All communications liable to publication, relevant to military or naval operations, or containing information of any kind that can be used by the public enemy, are forbidden.

4. Publications relating to private transactions, or having in view the praise or censure of any person in the naval service, are prohibited.

5. Written testimonials of the general or particular conduct of officers and others, are only to be given by their commanding officer; and in case of commanding officers themselves, by the commander of the squadron. All such are to be addressed officially to the Secretary of the Navy, and forwarded to the Department for record and use.

6. Testimonials, in writing or otherwise, between the officers themselves relative to the performance of their duties, or from inferiors to superiors, are prohibited.

7. In all matters liable to undergo judicial investigation, by court martial or otherwise, officers and others will be careful not to prejudge the case, or commit themselves by giving an oral or written opinion, until required to do so by the Department or Commander-in-Chief of the squadron.

8. Every commanding officer of a vessel-of-war, and every commander of a squadron, will take care that every transaction under their respective commands is carefully and promptly reported to the Secretary of the Navy, giving to every officer and man concerned the praise or censure justly due him.

9. In case of a collision between a vessel of the Navy and any other, which may lead to a claim against the Government for damages, the officer in command of the vessel of the Navy will transmit to the Department, as early as practicable, a full and particular report of the circumstances attending the collision, a report of survey of the damages, if practicable, and statements from the principal officers or petty officers who may have witnessed the occurrence.

10. Where officers are separated from the Flag Officer, and important or useful information is likely to be delayed by transmission through the latter, reports will be sent directly to the Department, and copies to the Commander-in-Chief.

Gideon Welles
[Secretary of the Navy]

Navy Department,
December 12, 1862