United States v. Fuller - 160 U.S. 593 (1896)


U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Fuller, 160 U.S. 593 (1896)

United States v. Fuller

No. 805

Submitted January 9, 1896

Decided January 20, 1896

160 U.S. 593

Syllabus

Mates are petty officers, and as such are entitled to rations or commutation therefor.

This was a petition for a commutation of rations alleged to be due to claimant as a mate in the Navy.

The petitioner alleged his appointment as mate on March 4, 1870, and that from March 20, 1888, until August 12, 1891, he was attached to the receiving ship Vermont at the Navy Yard in Brooklyn; that, under sections 1579 and 1585 of the Revised Statutes, he was entitled to rations while so serving, or to the commutation price thereof, but that the same had been refused him, and he therefore prayed judgment in the sum of $380.

The Court of Claims found the following facts:

1. The claimant, a mate in the United States Navy, was attached to and served on the United States receiving ship Vermont from March 20, 1888, to August 14, 1891.

2.During his said service he was not allowed a ration, nor commutation therefor.

3. Mates have not been regarded as petty officers by the Treasury Department, nor by the Navy Department, prior to the adoption of the Navy regulations of 1893.

4. From the year 1799, master's mates in the United States Navy were warrant officers, except when acting under temporary and probationary appointments. Warrants were issued to them after at least one year's sea service under a probationary appointment. No such warrants were, however, issued after 1843, and in 1847 a regulation of the Navy Department forbade commanding officers to make such probationary appointments.

On October 7, 1863, the Secretary of the Navy issued the following circular:

Page 160 U. S. 594

"Seamen enlisted in the naval service may hereafter, as formerly, be advanced to the rating of master's mate, and such rating may be bestowed by the commander of a squadron, subject to the approval of the department, or by the commander of a vessel, with the previous sanction of the department."

"Seamen so rated will be entitled to the same pay, rank, and privileges as appointed or warranted master's mates, but will not be released by their rating from the obligations of their enlistment, and may be disrated by the order or with the sanction of the department. They will not, while rated as master's mates, be considered as subject to trial by a summary court-martial, nor be disrated by transfer, as in the case of petty officers."

"Seamen rated as master's mates will not be discharged with that rating, and will be considered as disrated to seamen upon the expiration of their enlistment, but upon their immediate reenlistment, the rating of master's mate may be considered as renewed. The acceptance of such renewed rating will be considered as a renunciation of any claim to additional pay for reenlistment. All ratings of master's mates made by order of the commander of a squadron, and all such ratings renewed by reenlistment, will be reported to the department as early as practicable."

Upon these facts, the court held as a conclusion of law that the claimant was entitled to recover the sum of $372.60, for which judgment was entered, and the government appealed.



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