The Florida - 101 U.S. 37 (1897)
U.S. Supreme Court
The Florida, 101 U.S. 37 (1897)
101 U.S. 37
On the night of Oct. 7, 1864, the rebel steamer Florida was captured in the port of Bahia, Brazil, by the United States Steamer Wachusett and brought thence to Hampton Roads, where, by a collision, she was sunk. The United States disavowed the act of the captain of the Wachuaett in making the capture. He libeled the Florida as a prize of war. Held that the libel was properly dismissed.
On the night of the 7th of October, 1864, the United States steamer Wachusett, under the command of Commander Collins, captured the rebel steamer Florida in the port of Bahia, in the Empire of Brazil. The Florida had gone there to supply herself with provisions and for the repair of her
engine. She was anchored under cover of a Brazilian vessel of war, on the side next to the shore, and Commander Collins was notified that if he attacked her he would be fired upon by a neighboring fort and by the war vessels of the empire then present. The commander, availing himself of the darkness of the night, approached and fired upon the Florida, received her surrender, attached a hawser to her extending from his vessel and towed her out to sea. He was pursued by a Brazilian war vessel, but escaped with his prize by superior speed. The steamers reached the United States at Hampton Roads. There the Florida was sunk by a collision, and lies where she went down. The American consul at Bahia was on board of the Wachusett at the time of the attack and incited it and participated in the seizure. He returned to the United States with Commander Collins.
The Brazilian government demanded the return of the vessel and other reparation by the United States. The latter disavowed the capture, and the matter was amicably adjusted.
The commander libeled the Florida as prize of war. The court below dismissed the case, and he appealed to this Court.