Vice Admiral Richard Lord Howe's Standing Instructions To The Fleet - American Theatre

Instructions and Standing Orders for the Government and Discipline of the Ships of War
 

     Whereas an Uniform system of discipline established in this Squadron,
would be productive of many essential Benefits; the subsequent Regulations
prepared in that view, are to be conformed to, and Continued in force 'till
further Order.
                                                         I
      Every Ship is to be provided with a Publick Orderly Book wherein is
to be Entered all Orders and directions issued for the current daily services;
likewise such parts of all General Orders given from time to time and extracts
of these Instructions, as may be necessary for the Instruction of the
inferior Officers, and Ship's Company's in the duties required of them; for
which purpose the Officers summoned by signal on board the Admiral, or
Commander of any Division, whereof they make a Part are to attend with
the Orderly Book of the Ships to which they belong, to transcribe from that
of the Admiral or other Commanding Officer's Ship, such Orders & directions as are then to be given out.
      The Orderly Book to be kept on the Quarter Deck, Subject to the
inspection of every Person belonging to the Ship-
                                                          II
      The Petty Officers & Seamen of the Ship's Company, are to be formed
into two or three divisions, according to the Complement and Classes of
the Ship; each Division to be under the inspection of a Lieutenant, & sub-
divided into Squads, with a Midshipman appointed to each, who are re-
spectively to be responsible for the good Order & discipline of the Men
entrusted to their Care. In forming these divisions & subdivisions, regard
is to be had to make them as convenient as may be to the Mens Stations, in
the Quarter & Watch Bills, & to their Berths; and each Officer is to keep an
exact list of the Names of the Men in their divisions & Squads, noticing
thereon their several stations & number of their hammock: and the like refer-
ences are to be made on the Watch & Quarter Bills, to their division or
Squad, for the more ready calling them to their duty, or being able to
account for their absence -
      In Port they are to Call the Men over by the said lists, morning &
evening, at such hours as the Captain of the Ship shall appoint, and finding
any Absent or faulty, report it to the Commanding Officer on board at the
time; & to enable them to perform this part of their duty with regularity,
notice is always to be given them when any man under their Care has leave
of Absence, or otherwise, or for what time, that they may attend to the time
of his return -
                                                       III
      The Marines and Soldiers are to be put into divisions under their
Proper Officers, as in the Preceding Article -
      At Sea their relieves & tours of duty (except when placed as Centry)
are to be the same as the seamens' but in Port when the more necessary
services of the Ship and their Number well admit of it, they are to be de-
vided into three Guards, and to mount for twenty four hours, or a shorter
time as the Captain of the Ship sees fit; They are always to mount their
Guard in their Uniforms, and after sunset the Centinels are to give the
Word, All's Well, every ten Minutes or quarter of an hour, beginning with
the one on the starboard side of the Poop, repeating it forward on that side,
and round back again on the Larboard; In case of not being answered the
Centinel who repeated the word last to alarm the Guard. -
      The Centinels are to challenge all boats coming to, or passing near
the Ship in the Night: And not permitt any to come on board, nor any
Persons to enter, or go from the Ship after sunset and before sunrise with
out leave first obtained from the Officer of the Watch; They are not to
suffer any noise to be made on their Posts other than what is necessary in
the business of the Ship; and in Case of any Misdemeanor or Neglect of
Duty, they are to be regularly relieved before any Punishment is inflicted
on them upon that account -
      The Marines are not to be forced to go aloft, nor, on the other hand,
are they to be restrained from rendering themselves expert in a seamen's
duty, at proper Opportunitys agreeable to the Standing Instructions -
                                                    IV
       It is recommended to the Captains to form their Ships' Companys at
three Watches at Sea, whenever their Number, health, abilitys &: diligence
well admit of that Indulgence, especially the Petty Officers, that they may
execute their duty with greater Punctuallity and exactness whilst it is their
turn to be upon the Watch: In order to facilitate this arrangement, the
Admiral has the Intention to give timely notice whenever he is about to
Tack, or to make any other alteration that may require more Assistance -
                                                     V
       Cleanliness & wholesome Air between decks, being of the utmost Conse-
quence to health, every convenient means of Preserving, and obtaining
those important requisites, are to be used: The upper deck washed daily,
the lower deck twice, or Oftner, & the Orlop at least once a Week, the
Weather and other necessary services admitting thereof -
       The Beams & Plank over the sick Berths are to be occasionally washed
with Vinegar; these Also to be fumigated once a Month or oftner in damp
Weather, by burning tar with a logger head, or fireing small quantitys of
gunpowder, if the sick are in a State to Admit their being moved up from
between decks; as it will be necessary the Ports & Hatches should be Closed
during these Operations -
       The Wind sails are to be kept down the hatches in day time; and the
ventilators worked uninterruptedly, night and day-
       The Hammocoes are to be got up in fine weather and stowed in the
nettings, or constantly lashed up when not occupied; and no greather
Number of Chests, or other encumbrances, allowed between decks, to enter-
rupt the free Circulation of Air, than what are absolutely necessary for the
requisite accomodation of the Ship's Company -
       The times of washing the lower & orlop decks, fumigating the Ship,
and every other means taken for the preservation of health, are to be set
down in the log book; or the reasons why they were omitted -
                                                 VI
       As a sufficient quantity of dry, warm clothing, to afford the men a
change when needfull, will much contribute to the beneficial Purposes be-
fore mentioned, it is highly necessary an accurate account should be had of
the several articles each man is furnished with as well as to prevent thefts
& frauds. The Lieutenants having command of divisions are always therefore
to take a muster of the cloathing of each man under the degree of a
Petty Officer in their respective divisions, as soon as may be after the Ship
puts to Sea, and cause an entry to be made thereof in a book provided for
that Purpose. Every casual alteration by loss, exchange, purchase, or dona-
tion is to be noticed therein; that it may be had recourse to for comparing
the claimant's demand on any Complaint of theft, to ascertain the facts:
And the men for whose peculiar benefit this regulation is calculated, should
be exhorted to punctuallity in giving notice of such alterations to their
Officers, for the mutual justification of all Parties -
       No Person is to appropriate to his own use any cloaths, of what kind
soever, negligently left about the decks, under pretence of not being able
to find an Owner for them; But he is to bring such Cloathing to the Officer
of the Watch, for his directions in the disposal of it. And if it is discovered
to be in his Possession for any other intent, it shall be deemed a theft, and
the Offender punished accordingly-
       The Midshipmen are to examine the cloathing of their respective
Squads weekly; to take care that the men keep themselves clean; that they
do not lose or otherwise dispose of their necessary cloathing; and that their
hammocks are scrubbed & washed at proper intervals: For which Purpose
the ordering up a certain number every morning in succession, will prob-
ably be necessary. They are to make due reports on these heads to the
Commanding Lieutenants of their divisions -
       The Lieutenants are to see the Midshipmen carefully perform this part
of their duty, and acquaint their Captains from time to time what necessary
cloathing each man wants; that orders may be given for supplying them, as
far as it may be done consistent with the General Instructions concerning
slops -
       On the First Muster of the Cloathing the Lieutenants are to direct
such Part thereof as may be requisite for the Men at Sea, to be stowed in
their hammocks; that there may be no Occasion to keep between decks a
greater Number of Chests than are absolutely necessary-
                                                     VII
       Whenever boats are sent from the Ship on duty, or otherwise, care
should be taken that none go in them but the regular boats Crews; or such
others as shall be appointed by the commanding Officer, instead of any one
sick or absent; and it is Particularly recommended to the respective Officers,
not to keep nor suffer the Boats to remain on Shore longer than is abso-
lutely necessary, and never after dark, which is too frequently the cause of
desertion -
       When boats are sent for water or Stores, the Officer of whatever Rank
he be, who is sent in the charge of them, is to stay and attend Punctually
to that duty, and be carefull to keep the men together; and so soon as they
have got in their lading, he is to proceed directly, (wind & tide permitting)
back to the Ship. The touching on Shore and letting the Men leave the Boat, is
generally productive of the embezlement of Stores, if they have any in,
and other irregularitys -
       Upon all Occasions where boats are sent on any service, in the execution
of which they may expect opposition, care shu'd be taken to furnish
them with Proper Arms and Ammunition, & likewise with water & Pro-
visions, if they are likely to be absent for so long a time, as to make it
necessary for the men to have refreshment -
       Particular Attention should be had, never to suffer the boats to lye
beating alongside the Ship, but always to keep them moored astern, with
proper boat keepers, & the fenders out, & at night to hoist them in, having
a boat on each side, with the tackles on her, ready to be put into the Water,
on any emergency -
                                                       VIII
       A Midshipman of the Watch to inspect between decks once at least
every hour during the Night, to see no tobacco is smoaked, or lights burning
in any Part of the Ship, but such as are allowed; that the Centinels are not
negligent on their Posts and that the Ventilators are worked -
                                                        IX
       A Mate or Midshipman is to attend the several Warrant Officers to
their storerooms, when any stores are wanted, to prevent accidents by care-
lessness and inattention to the Lights: And the Warrant Officers respectively
are strictly enjoined not to receive or lodge in their Storerooms, any
Spirituous Liquors, or other Articles whatsoever, except the Stores com-
mitted to their Charge, for the Service of the Ship -
                                                         X
       A Constant lookout is to be kept at the Mast heads while at Sea, or
in any other situation where it may be necessary to watch the approach or
passage of Strange Ships: The Men appointed to this duty are generally
to be relieved every half hour: But in case they are the first discoverers
of any such Ship or the land, then, by way of reward, they are to be relieved
immediately: As on the Contrary, they are to be kept up for double duty,
if, through their neglect, such discovery is first made from any other Part
of the Ship -
       The Midshipmen of the Watch, or other discreet Persons, are to be
successively charged with looking out for Signals from the Admiral's or
any other Ship; And no Signals are to be made but on very extraordinary
and urgent Occasions without the previous knowledge & direction of the
Commander of the Ship -
                                                     XI
       The Lieutenant of the Watch is to see marked in the logbook all Sig-
nals; every Change of Sail; the Proportion of leeway the Ship shall in his
judgement make; and all other observations & occurences that may happen
while he is in Charge of the Ship, by day or night, and attest such entrys
with the initial letters of his Name -
                                                      XII
       The Ship's Companys are to be exercised at all convenient times with
the Great Guns & Small arms, untill they become expert in the Use & Man-
agement of them agreeable to their several Stations in the Quarter Bills.
And the sooner to perfect them, this is to be practiced every day at sea in
fair Weather when at third Watch by a certain Number off duty, but when
at watch and watch, confined to those on duty. When the Seamen quartered
to the Great Guns have acquired a compleat knowledge of that part of their
duty, they are to be instructed in the use of small arms, and lists kept of
those so qualified, in readiness to make a report of their Number to the
Admiral when called upon -
       The Captains are at liberty to fire in the exercise of the small arms
when they see fit. But are never to use Powder or Ball in that of the Great
Guns without an Order or Signal from the Admiral -
                                                     XIII
       It is expected the Captains will take every opportunity when fitting
or getting ready for sea, and all other seasonable times, to accustom their
raw men to go aloft, and to have them instructed & Practiced in the several
dutys incident to fitting or working a Ship, that they may be qualified, as
soon as possible, to do the duty of Able Seamen; For this hand they are at
liberty to loose, hand, furl, or unbend a Course, or topsail when they see
fit, without regarding the Admiral's example in those instances: They will
with the same view also be permitted to change a topmast or topsail yard
then aloft; first signifying such their desire to the Admiral, and no Particu-
la [signal] occuring to the contrary -
                                                     XIV
       A Sufficient Number of Guns are to be kept loaded with Powder only,
for' making Signals, and False Fires and Signal Lanthorns always brought
up, and Placed ready for that purpose at the Close of Day. When Signals
are made in the Night, care is to be taken to keep the Lanthorns covered
till Placed; and then to show all the Lights at once: Spare ones are to be in
readiness to replace any that may be blown out, and when the Signal is
taken in, they are to be covered again. The utmost care is also to be taken
(especially in Flag Ships) when any Signal is to be made that no other
Lights, except the distinguishing ones, be seen from any other Part of the
Ship, nor any carried about uncovered when sailing or cruizing at Sea; in
order to Prevent the Inconveniences which might arise, by such lights being
mistaken for a Signal -
                                                       XV
       As it is highly Proper all the Ships should be kept in a Constant State
of readiness for Action, Particularly to prevent any surprize in the Night,
it is strongly recommended to the several Captains to see the Officers in
their different departments, have every thing depending on them in that
state: Slings for the yards, Puddings, Dolphins, preventer Braces, and
Stoppers, ready to apply at the shortest notice; fire buckets at hand, Spare
tiller fitted, wings clear, fire booms Placed conveniently for use, passages
to the Magazines always clear before night, after Platform in state to re-
ceive the wounded, a Sufficient Number of Lanthorns prepared; & that the
Casks of Drinking Water (disposed in proper Places for the refreshment of
the men at their Quarters in time of Action) be kept Constantly filled and
in good Condition -
       Spare Arms, Spikes, Ammunition, &c should at all times be ready,
carefully disposed for the seamen quartered on the upper deck & forecastle,
for either boarding or being boarded, and Great advantage may be derived
from the use of fine Sennet splinter nettings, when time & materials can
be had for making them -
       When at Anchor the Bow Chace should be loaded with grape shot, and
broad axes always laid at hand to cut; and Slip buoys put on the Cable to
slip whenever directed so to do -
                                                      XVI
       On Discovery of Strange ships in the night, the Officer of the Watch
is to make it known to the Captain, without loss of time: but if they are
seen near, & suddenly, his first attention is to be directed to get the Ship
immediately under Command, by filling sail without delay if before lying
to; making more, or less sail, as shall be requisite to keep her disengaged,
untill duly Prepared for Action, or that he receives the Captain's further
Orders thereon. In such exigency he is to give Notice of his discovery by a
Midshipman to his Commander, and the other Principal Officers of the
Ship, according to the directions which he shall have received in that re-
spect -
                                                     XVII
       On the beat to Arms, or other general call of the Ship's Company to
Quarters in the Night, it is meant that the divisions of the Ship's Company,
not of the watch, with the commissioned and inferior Officers appropriated
to them, should attend to see the crows, handspikes, rammers, sponges,
Powder horns, Priming wires, or tubes, and shot, & Wads provided and
properly placed for the Guns on the lower deck; the Guns unlashed, but
not run out; the tackles bighted in lengths, and laid along by the side of
them; match carefully disposed in the tubs; one lighted lanthorn hung up
behind each Gun amidships; and a Provision of sand or cinders to strew
upon the decks, in a small [tub] placed between every two Guns -
       The Marine Serjeants are to provide spare ammunition for the Marine
quarters, and the grenades; taking care to have them properly covered; and
separately secured -
       The Ship's steward, and his mates, or other persons appointed to act
with him under the Surgeons directions, should be charged with the Care
of placing, at the same time, lights for his occasions-
       Particular men quartered at each gun below and aloft, instead of Boys,
who are not of trust to be relied on for this important duty, should be
appointed and noted in the several lists, to receive from those charged with
the distribution of them, the proper number of Cartridges in cases, for
their respective guns; which cases should be placed on the opposite side to
that on which it is expected to engage, and moved over, from time to time,
in the progress of the Action, as occasion may require. The men so ap-
pointed should be trade sensible, by a proper intimation, of the conse-
quence of this service confided to their special discretion & care.
       It is recommended, for an invariable practice in action, (more especially
during the night) to be provided to make as many discharges as can be
prudently attempted, on the first junction with the enemy; not only on
account of the impression a vigorous effort of this kind cannot fail to make
from a Ship well placed, but as the difference of drift in any two Ships, and
the difficulty of keeping their Stations from damage to their rigging are
such, as quickly to separate them to a distance from each other, and render
their subsequent discharges precarious, or of no effect -
       A very particular attention is necessary to be had to the lower deck
Ports in Squally weather, or on occasion of putting in stays, or hauling to
the wind suddenly in time of Action; the Officers on the lower decks should
be timely informed of the Captain's intentions thereon, for their Govern-
ment accordingly; and the Benefits of frequent use in the lashing and
secureing in exercise, by the men quartered to them, will be sensibly
experienced on these occurences -
                                                      XVIII
       It is to be observed, that it is not meant, by anything before mentioned,
to restrain the Captains from making such special arrangements and pro-
visions for the better discipline and good government of their Ships, as
they see occasion to establish; the details, in either instance, where it has
been touched upon in these instructions, have been introduced rather with
an explanatory meaning than to a complete and circumstantial limitation -
       Nevertheless with respect to the Provisions unnoticed; as, (amongst
others) for preventing excess in the use of spirituous liquors, or the neces-
sary appointment of the Men to different stations for working the Ship,
left to be added; it is the object of these instructions to have the details, in
all cases, expressed in the orderly Book as full as the nature of them will
admit, for the Information of Persons concerned; that no Plea of Ignorance,
or want of sufficient opportunity to become acquainted with the Particular
dutys required of them, may with reason be alledged in excuse of any
omission or misconduct therein -
                                                       XIX
       Whenever a demand is made for stores at any of the dock yards or Ports
where naval officers are established, the warrant officers in whose department
it is, are to accompany it with an abstract of their supplys, expence, and remains; that the officer of such yard or Port may be enabled to judge of the
regularity of the demand, before it is comply'd with, and particular atten-
tion is to be had that no conversion be made, of Stores, to other purposes
than those for which they were intended, without a written order; nor any
fallacious expence of them set down in the expence books. As however
meritorious the intention of such practices may have been, they have given
rise to much complaint in the Publick Offices, of abuses committed under
those pretexts, and therefore it is necessary for the Kings service they should
be suppressed -
       And the respective Warrant Officers are to take notice that if any of
the Stores under their care shall be misapplied, damaged, or wasted, for
want of their representing to their Captain, or Commanding Officer, anything
that might have prevented it, the same will be considered as a notorious breach
of their duty, and they will be made to answer for it accordingly -
                                                    XX
       All suitable opportunitys are to be taken for keeping the ships com-
plete in their stores, water, & Provisions, up to the time expressed in the
last Orders the Captains have received in that respect; without waiting for
other instructions therein -
       As the advancement of the Public service requires an equitable partici-
pation of the Aids, whether in men or Stores, that can be spared for the
benefit of this armament; it is with confidence inferred, that the Captains
will not suffer any errors in the returns made of men or Stores, or Qualitys
or sufficiencies of either to escape their notice & correction -

       Given on board His Majestys Ship Eagle off New York 8th day of June
1777
                                                                   

Every attempt has been made to reproduce this replica with all spelling and sentence structure identical to the original hand-written document. You will likely note many modern day miss-spellings; while some are just that, some are of common usage of the day. As this replica took many hours to reproduce, complete with a graphic of Howe's actual signature, it is by copyright laws a new presentation of the original, which was handwritten, and is therefore copyrightable, and therefore is so 12 August, 2001, H.M.S. Richmond, Inc. One word in this document is spelled different from the original, although does not alter the understanding of the word, but  provides proof of ownership.

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