The Atalanta - 16 U.S. 409 (1818)
U.S. Supreme Court
The Atalanta, 16 U.S. 3 Wheat. 409 409 (1818)
16 U.S. (3 Wheat.) 409
A neutral cargo found on board an armed enemy's vessel is not liable to, condemnation as prize of war.
A question of proprietary interest. Further proof ordered.
This ship, being a British armed vessel, was captured in the year 1814, on a voyage from Bordeaux to
Pensacola, by the sloop of war Wasp, and sent into Savannah, in Georgia, where she was libeled and condemned in the district court as prize of war. The cargo, which was claimed for M. Foussat, a merchant domiciled at Bourdeaux, was also condemned. On appeal to the circuit court as to the cargo further proof was ordered, and restitution decreed to the claimant. The cause was then brought by appeal to this Court.
The vessel was owned by Messrs. Barclay, Salkeld & Co. of Liverpool, who were also owners of large cotton plantations near Pensacola. She sailed from Liverpool on 14 August, 1814, for Bordeaux, laden with a cargo, part of which, about equal in value to the cargo subsequently taken in at Bordeaux, belonged to the owners of the ship, and the documentary evidence showed that her ultimate destination was Pensacola or the Havana. A few days after the arrival of the vessel at Bordeaux she was chartered by the claimant, who then had a vessel of his own lying unemployed in that port, and the cargo claimed was put on board in September, 1814. One Pritchard, who sailed in the vessel, was a British subject, and according to some of the testimony acted as supercargo. At the time of the capture, the master and Pritchard were taken out of the vessel and carried on board the Wasp, which ship has never since been heard of, and is supposed to have been lost at sea. The proceedings in the district court were extremely irregular; no examinations of the prisoners on the standing interrogatories having been taken, and witnesses having been examined in the first instance,
who neither belonged to the captured nor the capturing vessel. The further proof produced by the claimant in the court below consisted of an affidavit of the claimant swearing to the property in himself and a certificate of two royal notaries at Bordeaux that the copy of a letter from the claimant to Vincent Ramez, the consignee at Pensacola, dated 28 August, 1814, and stating the object of the adventure was truly extracted from the claimant's letter book.