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DEWEY v. UNITED STATES.

decided: May 28, 1900.

DEWEY
v.
UNITED STATES.



APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF CLAIMS.

Author: Harlan

[ 178 U.S. Page 511]

 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the court.

This was an action in the Court of Claims to recover bounty money earned by the plaintiff in error as the commanding officer of the American fleet at the naval battle of Manila on the 1st day of May, 1898.

The statute under which the action was brought is as follows: "Rev. Stat. § 4635. A bounty shall be paid by the United States for each person on board any ship or vessel of war belonging to an enemy at the commencement of an engagement, which is sunk or otherwise destroyed in such engagement by any ship or vessel belonging to the United States, or which it may be necessary to destroy in consequence of injuries sustained in action, of one hundred dollars, if the enemy's vessel was of inferior force, and of two hundred dollars if of equal or superior force, to be divided among the officers and crew in the same manner as prize money; and when the actual number of men on board any such vessel cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, it shall be estimated according to the complement allowed to vessels of its class in the navy of the United States; and there shall be paid as bounty to the captors of any vessel of war captured from an enemy, which they may be instructed to destroy, or which is immediately destroyed for the public interest, but not in consequence of injuries received in action, fifty dollars for every person who shall be on board at the time of such capture."

The mode in which bounty money earned under that section was to be divided is indicated by the following provisions relating to the distribution of prize money:

"§ 4631. All prize money adjudged to the captors shall be distributed in the following proportions:

"First. To the commanding officer of a fleet or squadron, one twentieth part of all prize-money awarded to any vessel or vessels under his immediate command.

[ 178 U.S. Page 512]

     "Second. To the commanding officer of a division of a fleet or squadron, on duty under the orders of the commander-in-chief of such fleet or squadron, a sum equal to one fiftieth part of any prize-money awarded to a vessel of such division for a capture made while under his command, such fiftieth part to be deducted from the moiety due to the United States, if there be such moiety, otherwise from the amount awarded to the captors; but such fiftieth part shall not be in addition to any share which may be due to the commander of the division, and which he may elect to receive, as commander of a single ship making or assisting in the capture.

"Third. To the fleet-captain, one-hundredth part of all prize-money awarded to any vessel or vessels of the fleet or squadron in which he is serving, except in a case where the capture is made by the vessel on board of which he is serving at the time of such capture; and in such case he shall share, in proportion to his pay, with the other officers and men on board such vessel.

"Fourth. To the commander of a single vessel, one tenth part of all the prize-money awarded to the vessel under his command, if such vessel at the time of the capture was under the command of the commanding officer of a fleet or squadron, or a division, and three twentieths if his vessel was acting independently of such superior officer.

"Fifth. After the foregoing deductions, the residue shall be distributed and proportioned among all others doing duty on board, including the fleet-captain, and borne upon the books of the ship, in proportion to their respective rates of pay in the service."

It may be here stated that the provisions for prize-money and bounty to the navy were repealed by an act of Congress approved March 3, 1899, which declares that "all provisions of law authorizing the distribution among captors of the whole or any portion of the proceeds of vessels, or any property hereafter captured, condemned as prize, or providing for the payment of bounty for the sinking or destruction of vessels of the enemy hereafter occurring in time of war, are hereby repealed." 30 Stat. 1004, 1007, c. 413, § 13.

[ 178 U.S. Page 513]

     The American vessels taking part in the battle were the Olympia, Baltimore, Boston, Raleigh, Concord, Petrel, McCulloch, Nanshan and Zafiro.

The number of officers and men on those vessels during the battle was 1836.

The Spanish vessels taking part in the battle were the Reina Cristina, Castilla, Don Juan de Austria, Don Antonio de Ulloa, General Lezo, Marquez del Duero, Argos, Velasco, Isla de Mindanao, Isla de Cuba, Isla de Luzon, Manila, and two torpedo boats. The Reina Cristina, Castilla, Don Antonio de Ulloa, General Lezo, Marquez del Duero, Argos, Velasco, Isla de Mindanao and the two torpedo boats were destroyed b the American vessels. The Don Juan de Austria, Isla de Cuba and Isla de Luzon were disabled and put out of action in the battle, and were captured; but they were subsequently floated and repaired by the United States and now constitute a part of the American navy. The Manila was captured in the same engagement.

No claim for bounty under section 4635 is made in the present action on account of the sinking of the Don Juan de Austria, Isla de Cuba and the Isla de Luzon, because proceedings are to be begun in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia to condemn those vessels as prize of war, the claimant reserving the right to make such claim hereafter, if it should be held that the vessels are not subject to condemnation in prize.

The total number of men on board the Spanish vessels during the battle of Manila was 2973. The total number on board the Spanish vessels destroyed was, at the commencement of the action, 1914.

The enemy's vessels were supported by land batteries and by mines and torpedoes in the entrance to Manila Bay and in the bay itself, and some of those ...


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