Medals of Honor.
798 By an act of Congress, approved December 21, 1861, the Secretary of the Navy is authorized to cause two hundred "Medals of Honor" to be prepared, with suitable emblematic devices, to be bestowed upon such petty officers, others of inferior rating, and marines, as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other commendable qualities during the present war. Medals have accordingly been prepared, and each consists of a star of five rays, in bronze, with a device emblematic of the Union crushing the monster Rebellion — the star itself sustained, as a means of wearing it as intended, by the flukes of an anchor. The following rules are to be observed concerning it :
- It is to be worn suspended from the left breast by a ribbon of the same pattern as that which will be found attached on its presentation, showing all blue at top for half an inch downwards, and thirteen vertical stripes, alternately red and white, for eight-tenths of an inch, or the rest of its length to the ring of the anchor.
- The name of the recipient is to be engraved on the back of the medal.
- The names of all those upon whom the Navy Department may be pleased to confer that medal shill be publicly made known, and a registry thereof kept in the Department.
- The medal shall only be awarded to those petty officers, and others indicated, who shall have evinced in battle some signal act of valor or devotion to their country ; and nothing save such conduct, coupled with good general qualities in the service, shall be held to establish a sufficient claim to it.
- In order to enable the Department to discriminate fairly and properly in the premises, Commanding Officers, in recommending parties for the medal, are to state minutely the grounds of their recommendation, precisely what the deeds of valor or devotion were, and the circumstances attending them; and they are also to state the impressions made by the parties of to their general public worth.
- Every person selected for the medal shall receive it publicly, from the bands of the senior officer present in command, before the crew to which he belongs, and at the instance of a general order from the Navy Department stating the cause of his special distinction.
- Any one who, after having received the medal, shall again perform an act which, if he had not received the distinction, would have entitled him to it, shall have the authority conferred upon him by the Department to wear a bar attached to the ribbon by which the medal is suspended ; and for every additional act of the kind an additional bar shall be added.
- To preserve pure this "Medal of Honor," it is to distinctly understood that if any person on whom it shall have been conferred be subsequently convicted of treason, cowardice, felony, or any infamous crime, or if he be accused of any such offense, and do not, after a reasonable time, surrender himself to be tried therefor, his name shall forthwith be erased from the registry above mentioned by a general order from the Secretary of the Navy, who alone is to be the judge of the circumstances demanding the expulsion.
- An act of Congress, approved July 16, 1862, further directs that seamen distinguishing themselves in battle, or by extraordinary heroism in the line of their profession, may be promoted to forward warrant officers, or acting master's mates, as they may be best qualified, upon the recommendation of their Commanding Officer, approved by the Flag Officer and the Department ; and that, upon such promotion, they shall receive a gratuity of one hundred dollars, and a "Medal of Honor."
- In all cases of selections as above authorized, Commanding Officers are to communicate the names of the individuals without delay, in order that the Department may take prompt action with regard to them ; and if the selection involve promotion, as contemplated by the act of Congress just mentioned, those officers are to be particular in stating whether it should be that of a forward warrant officer, or to that of an acting master's mate, together with their reasons therefor. Special attention to clauses 5 and 9 of these instructions is enjoined upon all Commanding Officers.