Mr. Welles to Mr. Seward

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 8th instant, transmitting one from Sir Frederick Bruce asking to be informed whether the flags represented on plate No. 1 (transmitted) are those officially authorized by the United States government as the signal flags to be used on board American ships of war.

The plate referred to is headed “American marine signal flags,” designed and patented by H. J. Rogers of Baltimore, United States of America, and arranged for communicating by the “commercial code.”

In reply, I have the honor to say that the book from which this plate is taken is authorized by the Navy Department to be placed on board of United States vessels of war, to enable the commanders to communicate by signal with such merchant vessels as may have it on board.

The Navy Department has not authorized the adoption of the commercial or any other code of signals adapted to the use of the mercantile marine, as all matters relating to commerce are under the control of the Secretary of the Treasury.

Transmitted herewith is a copy of a communication from this department on the same subject, dated 21st September, 1866.

The letter of Sir Frederick Bruce is herewith returned.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.