U.S. Secretary of the Navy’s General Order on Curbing Rampant Smuggling to the Enemy

July 29, 1813

Smuggling was common throughout the War of 1812 and, even with military intervention, continued throughout the duration of the war. 


The palpable and criminal intercourse, held with the enemy's forces, blockading and invading the waters and shores of the United States, is, in a Military view, an offence of so deep a dye, as to call for the vigilant interposition of all the Naval Officers of the United States. 

This intercourse is not only carried on, by foreigners, under the specious garb of friendly flags, who convey provisions, water, and succours of all kinds, (ostensibly destined for friendly ports, in the face, too, of a declared and rigorous blockade,) direct to the fleets and stations of the enemy, with constant intelligence of our Naval and Military force and preparation, and the means of continuing and conducting the invasion, to the greatest possible annoyance of the Country; but the same traffic, intercourse and intelligence, is carried on, with great subtlety and treachery, by profligate citizens, who, in vessels ostensibly navigating our own waters, from port to port, under cover of night, or other circumstances favouring their turpitude, find means to convey succours, or intelligence to the enemy, and elude the penalty of the law. This lawless traffic and intercourse, is also carried on, to a great extent, in craft, whose capacity exempts them from the regulations of the revenue laws, and from the vigilance, which vessels of greater capacity attract.

I am, therefore, commanded by the President of the United States, to enjoin and direct, all Naval commanding Officers, to exercise the strictest vigilance, and to stop & detain, all vessels, or craft, whatsoever, proceeding, or apparently intending to proceed, towards the enemy's vessels, within the waters, or hovering about the harbours of the United States; or towards any station, occupied by the enemy, within the jurisdiction of the United States, from which vessels, or craft, the enemy might derive succours or intelligence.

Wm. Jones

Navy Department

July 29th 1813