Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/139

This page has been validated.
Provisional Congress.

President's Instructions to Private Armed Vessels.

1. The tenor of your commission, under the act of Congress entitled "An Act recognizing the existence of war between the United States and the Confederate States, and concerning letters of marque, prizes, and prize goods," a copy of which is hereto annexed, will be kept constantly in your view. The high seas, referred to in your commissions, you will understand generally to refer to low water mark, but with the exception of the space within one league or three miles from the shore of countries at peace both with the United States and the Confederate States. You may, nevertheless, execute your commission within that distance of the shore of a nation at war with the United States, and even on the waters within the jurisdiction of such nation, if permitted to do so.

2. You are to pay the strictest regard to the rights of neutral powers and the usages of civilized nations; and in all your proceedings toward neutral vessels you are to give them as little molestation or interruption as will consist with the right of ascertaining their neutral character and of detaining and bringing them in for regular adjudication in the proper cases. You are particularly to avoid even the appearance of using force or seduction with a view to deprive such vessels of their crews or of their passengers other than persons in the military service of the enemy.

3. Toward enemy vessels and their crews you are to proceed, in exercising the rights of war, with all the justice and humanity which characterize this Government and its citizens.

4. The master and one or more of the principal persons belonging to the captured vessels are to be sent, as soon after the capture as may be, to the judge or judges of the proper court in the Confederate States, to be examined upon oath touching the interest or property of the captured vessel and her lading, and at the same time are to be delivered to the judge or judges all papers, charterparties, bills of lading, letters, and other documents and writings found on board, the said papers to be proved by affidavit of the commander of the capturing vessel or some other person present at the capture, to be produced as they were received, without fraud, addition, subduction, or embezzlement.