United States v. Redgrave
116 U.S. 474 (1886)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Redgrave, 116 U.S. 474 (1886)

United States v. Redgrave

Submitted January 6, 1886

Decided January 25, 1886

116 U.S. 474


Cadet engineers who had finished their four years' course at the Naval Academy, had passed their final academic examinations, and had received their diplomas before the passage of the Act of August 5, 1882, 22 Stat. 284, became graduates, and were not made naval cadets by that act.

The provision in the Act of August 5, 1882, 22 Stat. 284, for the discharge of surplus naval cadet graduates was prospective only, and did not apply to the classes of 1881, and 1882.

The facts of the case brought here by this appeal, as found by the Court of Claims, were in substance as follows:

In 1877, the appellee, who was the claimant below, entered the Naval Academy as a cadet engineer, and on June 10, 1881, received a certificate signed by its officers that he had completed the prescribed course of study at the Academy and had successfully passed the required examination before the academic board. He was on the same date detached from the Academy and ordered to report for duty on board the U.S. practice steamer Mayflower. On August 30, 1881, he was detached from the Mayflower and ordered to proceed home on waiting orders. On October 28, 1881, he was ordered to proceed to the navy yard at League Island for duty on board the United States Steamship Essex. On April 16, 1883, he reported to the Superintendent of the Naval Academy in pursuance of orders for examination which assumed that the Act of Congress of August 5, 1882, operated upon him as a naval cadet, requiring a six years' course before graduation and a final examination at its conclusion. On June 23, 1883, he was detached from the Naval Academy on waiting orders. On June 26, 1883, the Secretary of the Navy addressed to him a letter in which it was recited that he had successfully completed his six years' course at the Naval Academy and had received a certificate of graduation by the academic board, but

"not being required to fill any vacancy in the naval service happening

Page 116 U. S. 475

during the year preceding your graduation, you are hereby honorably discharged from the 30th of June, 1883, with one year's sea pay, as prescribed by law for cadet midshipmen, in accordance with the provisions of the Act of Congress approved August 5, 1882."

From August 5, 1882, to June 30, 1883, the claimant was paid $769.86 for service in the navy during that period. If paid during the same period as a graduated cadet engineer, he would have been entitled to receive $796.71.

Since then, the claimant has received no pay, and has been held by the Navy Department and the accounting officers of the Treasury to be out of the naval service. After leaving the Academy, the claimant and all his classmates were classified on the official navy register issued in July, 1881, as having "graduated," and up to August 5, 1882, they were regularly paid as such at the rates prescribed by section 1556 of the Revised Statutes, viz., $1,000 at sea, $800 on shore duty, and $600 on leave or waiting orders. In the same manner, the cadet engineers who completed their four-years course in 1878, 1879, and 1880 were all regularly classified in the succeeding navy registers as having graduated in those years, respectively, and prior to August 5, 1882, they were all uniformly paid as such.

The regulations prescribing the qualifications for appointment of cadet engineers fixed a higher average age by two years for cadet engineers entering the Academy than was required by law for cadet midshipmen so entering. After completing the four-years course, cadet engineers were permanently detached from the Academy and were never required to return to that institution. They remained in active service at sea or upon other duty two or three years or longer, until vacancies occurred in the grade of assistant engineer, when they were ordered singly or in groups for examination for promotion under the provisions of section 1392 of the Revised Statutes before a board of engineer officers which held its sessions at Philadelphia.

The last two years of the academic course of cadet midshipmen were spent "at sea in other than practice ships." After

Page 116 U. S. 476

four years at the Academy, they were temporarily detached from that institution by orders from the Navy Department, and were sent to sea singly or in squads. On shipboard, they performed such active duties as were assigned to them. At the end of the two years, they were required to return and did return to the Naval Academy, where they were subjected to a "final graduating examination" before the academic board. If successful at such examination, they received appointments as midshipmen, and were thereafter classified in the navy register as having "graduated" at that date, and they were never so designated either in the navy register or elsewhere until after they had passed such examination at the end of the six-years course.

The provisions of the Act of August 5, 1882, being the Naval Appropriation Act, 22 Stat. 284, c. 391, which apply to the case, are as follows:

"For the pay of the Navy, for the active list, namely: . . . sixty-nine chief engineers, one hundred past assistant engineers, thirty-five assistant engineers, seventy-three cadet engineers (graduates), . . . one hundred and two cadet engineers, one hundred and thirty cadet midshipmen (not graduates), in all four million forty-eight thousand three hundred dollars, provided that hereafter there shall be no appointments of cadet midshipmen or cadet engineers at the Naval Academy, but in lieu thereof naval cadets shall be appointed from each congressional district and at large, as now provided by law for cadet midshipmen, and all the undergraduates at the Naval Academy shall hereafter be designated and called 'Naval Cadets.' And from those who successfully complete the six-years course, appointments shall hereafter be made as it is necessary to fill vacancies in the lower grades of the line and engineer corps of the Navy and of the Marine Corps, and provided further that no greater number of appointments into these grades shall be made each year than shall equal the number of vacancies which has occurred in the same grades during the preceding year, and such appointments to be made from the graduates of the year at the conclusion of their six-years course in the order of merit, as determined by the

Page 116 U. S. 477

academic board of the Naval Academy, the assignment to the various corps to be made by the Secretary of the Navy upon the recommendation of the academic board. But nothing herein contained shall reduce the number of appointments from such graduates below ten in each year, nor deprive of such appointment any graduate who may complete the six-years course during the year eighteen hundred and eighty-two. And if there be a surplus of graduates, those who do not receive such appointment shall be given a certificate of graduation, an honorable discharge, and one year's sea pay, as now provided by law for cadet midshipmen. . . ."

"That the pay of naval cadets shall be that now allowed by law to cadet midshipmen, and as much of the money hereby appropriated as may be necessary during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1883, shall be expended for that purpose. . . ."

"That no officer now in the service shall be reduced in rank or deprived of his commission by reason of any provision of this act reducing the number of officers in the several staff corps, provided that no further appointments of cadet engineers shall be made by the Secretary of the Navy under section three of the act of eighteen hundred and seventy-four."

The Court of Claims, following its previous decision in the case of Leopold v. United States, 18 Ct.Cl. 546, affirmed the following propositions of law:

"1st. Cadet engineers who had finished their four-years course at the Naval Academy, passed their final academic examinations, and received their diplomas before the passage of the Act of August 5, 1882, 22 Stat. 285, became graduates, and are not made naval cadets by that act. They are therefore entitled to pay provided by the Revised Statutes, section 1556, page 268."

"2d. The provision in the Act of August 5, 1882, for the discharge of surplus naval cadet graduates is prospective only, and does not apply to the classes of 1881 and 1882."

Judgment was accordingly rendered in favor of the claimant, from which this appeal is prosecuted by the United States.

Page 116 U. S. 478

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