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Secretary of the Navy Announces the Death of Admiral Dewey: General Order No. 258, 17 January 1917

General Order No. 258
Navy Department, Washington, 17 January 1917.

It is with feeling of genuine grief that the Secretary of the Navy announces the death at 5.56 p.m. yesterday at his residence in Washington of The Admiral of the Navy.

The career of George Dewey "ran in full current to the end." Vermont was his mother State and there was always in his character something of the granite of his native hills. Dewey was under fire with Farragut in the Mississippi River, and bore himself gallantly throughout the War between the States.

The battle in Manila Bay on 1 May 1898, made him the foremost naval officer since Farragut and victor of the first American sea fight with a foreign foe since the War of 1812.

"Gentlemen, a higher power than we has won this battle to-day," the commodore said to his captains at the conclusion of the battle when it had been learned that the victory, one of the most decisive in our history, had been one without the loss of a single American seaman. In peace, in war; in sickness, in health; in victory and in conflict, and in every relation of life Admiral Dewey invariably exhibited the virtues of the patriot and the Christian.

His whole life, 62 years of which, were spent in the Navy, was full honorable achievement, and his service in peace has been hardly less distinguished than his laurels in war. As president of the General Board of the Navy since its inception he has played a leading part in making the Nation ready for war on the seas. The same statesmanlike qualities which he exhibited in handling the international situation at Manila after the battle of 1 May 1898, he has shown as the head of this board of naval experts.

In recognition of his victory in Manila Bay the then commodore was advanced one grade to that of rear admiral, and in addition received the thanks of Congress. Later by special act of Congress he was promoted to be The Admiral of the Navy, a rank never held by an American naval officer previously, although two, Porter and Farragut, were rewarded with the rank of full Admiral. He was placed by Congress on the active list until such time as he might see fit to apply for retirement. But his active spirit could not rest. He never folded his hands. He chose to die on the bridge, even until the Pilot came aboard his life craft who should take him across the bar. He died one of the foremost figures of modern times.

The flag will be displayed at half-mast at all navy yards and stations, and on board all ships in commission until after the funeral shall have taken place, and 19 minute guns will fire at noon on the day of the funeral from each navy yard and from the senior ship present afloat.

All officers of the Navy and Marine Corps will wear the badge of mourning with the uniform for 30 days.

The Navy Department, by executive order will be closed on Saturday, 20 January 1917.

Josephus Daniels,
Secretary of the Navy

Published:Fri Feb 06 14:35:29 EST 2015