The Teresita - 72 U.S. 180 (1866)
U.S. Supreme Court
The Teresita, 72 U.S. 5 Wall. 180 180 (1866)
72 U.S. (5 Wall.) 180
1. A neutral vessel at anchor, completely laden with a neutral cargo, on the neutral side of a river dividing neutral from hostile water, washing a blockaded coast, was captured as being subject to just suspicion of an intent to break the blockade.
2. The captain of the vessel (who was however absent at the time of capture)
and the mate, being examined in preparatorio, testified that she was in neutral waters when captured. A stevedore, yet on board, that she had drifted to the place where she was taken under stress of weather, he not knowing whether when captured she was in neutral waters or not. Held that this preliminary testimony warranted restoration.
3. Further proof having been allowed, it appeared that the vessel, when captured, was a quarter or a half mile within the hostile waters, the mate admitting this fact but testifying that the vessel had drifted to the spot, its anchor and chain being too light, and he expressing as one reason for not returning to the former anchorage as soon as the wind became fair that the captain was in port (about 36 miles distant) with the ship's papers and that he did not like to move the vessel without orders, and as another that the ship was fully laden and ready to sail, and had been seen by two blockading men-of-war, which did not disturb her, and that he thought the vessel might safely remain where she was till the captain returned, the mate proposing also, if not captured, to return at once to the anchorage from which he had drifted. On this,
Held that the case for the captors was not improved by the further proof, and that with the restitution costs and expenses to be paid by the captors, was to be decreed.