Regulations for the government of the United States Navy (1865)

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Section IV.


787 Desertion being an offence of the gravest character, every possible endeavor must be made by the officers of the Navy to check it, as well as absence without leave, or straggling, and to apprehend promptly all persons who may desert or so absent themselves. In each case descriptive lists, signed by the commanding officer, showing on their face the amount of reward offered are to be distributed among the police of the place, but not without the permission of the local authorities. (Form No. 4 ) 788 A reward not exceeding twenty dollars may be offered for the recovery of a deserter, and a reward not exceeding ten dollars may be offered for the recovery of a straggler, but in neither case is it to be paid until the delinquent is actually delivered on board the vessel, or at the place on short; where he belongs, and from which he deserted or went without authority. If, however, the vessel should have departed from the port at which the offence occurred, then the delivery of the delinquent to the Commanding naval officer thereat is to be regarded as equivalent to his delivery on board of her. Any reward which may be paid for the apprehension and delivery of a deserter or straggler is at once to be charged to his account.

789 In addition to the reward above authorized to be paid for the apprehension and delivery of deserters and stragglers, there may be paid a reasonable amount to cover such expenses attending their lodgment, subsistence, and traveling as may appear to have been fairly incurred ; and this amount, entered separately, is also to be charged against them. No claim, however, for loss of time, or for subsistence, that may be made by any person apprehending and delivering a deserter or straggler, is to be entertained.

790 A reward for the apprehension of an officer is not to be offered unless specially authorized by the Navy Department, or, on a foreign station, by the Commander-in-Chief of a squadron.

791 Absence without leave, and with a manifest intention not to return, is always to be regarded as desertion. Absence without leave, coupled with a probability that the party does not intend to remain permanently away, is, at first, to be regarded as straggling, and, at the expiration of ten days, if the party still remains absent, as desertion. In either case the Commanding Officer, on informing himself of the facts attending it, is, primarily, to decide the point of intention, and to cause the party to be entered on the log and marked on the books of the Paymaster as above indicated.

792 The wages due a deserter are to be regarded as forfeited to the United States ; or, if in debt to the government, the proceeds of his effects left on board are to be applied to liquidate it, and the balance, if any, is to be accounted for to the Fourth Auditor of the Treasury by the Paymaster. If not so in debt, the whole of said proceeds are to be so accounted for.

793 The letter R, marked against a person's name on the books of the Paymaster, is to signify desertion, and no application to the Department for its removal will be entertained unless the Department is furnished with sufficient evidence, either direct or circumstantial, that, in reality, there was no intention to desert.

794 If the account of any person returning or delivered on board with an R already appearing against his name has not actually been transmitted to the Fourth Auditor, the Commander of a squadron, or of a vessel acting singly, may have it removed if he is satisfied upon explanation that it ought not in justice to remain, in which case the party is to be re-credited with the wages that were due him when the R was placed against his name, and credited with the proceeds that may have resulted from the sale of his effects left on board, or, if he was in debt, with any balance of them that may appear in his favor ; but under no circumstances is any allowance of wages to be made to him for the time of his unauthorized absence.

795 Should desertions occur from a vessel in a port of the United States, her commanding officer, before sailing, is to transmit to the Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting a list and description of the deserters, and a duplicate of the same, with a statement of the reward offered in each case, to the Commanding Officer of the station, if there be one at the place, and if not, to the commanding officer of the station nearest to it, in order that he may receive such deserters if apprehended and have the reward offered for them paid.

796 If a deserter from any vessel of the navy shall take refuge on board of a foreign vessel-of-war. the senior officer present in command shall make a formal request for his delivery ; but if this be refused, he is not to resort to force for his recovery, yet he is, however, to report the case and circumstances immediately to the Navy Department.

797 In case of shipwreck, or any other circumstance except capture by an enemy, whereby any person belonging to a vessel of the Navy shall become unavoidably separated from the command, it shall be his duty to proceed at once to the nearest ship, squadron, or staUon, and report himself to the officer in command. In the event of failure to do this, he will be regarded as a deserter, and no claim for wages will be allowed unless he shall prove, to the satisfaction of the Department, that he was prevented by circumstances beyond his control.

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