The Cotton Plant - 77 U.S. 577 (1870)
U.S. Supreme Court
The Cotton Plant, 77 U.S. 10 Wall. 577 577 (1870)
The Cotton Plant
77 U.S. (10 Wall.) 577
A capture made within the State of North Carolina on the Roanoke River, 130 miles from its mouth, by a naval force detached from two steamers that had proceeded up the river, one about 80 miles and the other about 100, where they stopped in consequence of the crookedness of the stream and apprehensions of low water, held to be a capture upon "inland waters" of the United States as that phrase is used in the Act of Congress of July 2, 1864, 13 Stat. at Large 377, and therefore not to be regarded as maritime prize.
An Act of Congress of July 2, 1864, passed during the late rebellion, enacts that "no property seized or taken upon any of the inland waters of the United States by the naval forces thereof shall be regarded as maritime prize," and directs that all property so seized or taken shall be promptly delivered to the officers of the courts, to be dealt with in a way which the act prescribes.
The capture which was the subject of this libel took place on the 10th day of May, 1865, in North Carolina at the mouth of Quankey Creek on the Roanoke River about half a mile
below Halifax and about 130 miles above Plymouth, which lies at the mouth of the river, where the river falls into Albemarle Sound, the river at that point being narrow and shallow. An expedition consisting of the United States steamers Ioscoe and Valley City, with a picket launch, went up the Roanoke River. The Ioscoe proceeded to Hamilton, which was 50 miles from the place of capture, the Valley City went up the river to a point 32 miles from the place of capture, both vessels stopping at the places where they did on account of the winding course of the stream and from fear of getting aground. An officer and six men were placed on the picket launch, attended by an armed crew from the Ioscoe. The launch, with these crews, proceeded up the river to the place of capture, and there seized the steamer with her cargo then on board, cotton chiefly, and putting on her some other cotton that they brought from a barn on land, recently landed from this same steamer and put in the barn for temporary safekeeping until reladed, sent her to Philadelphia, where she was libeled in the district court and condemned, as already mentioned.
Her owners appealed to this Court. There was no allegation of any breach of blockade.