92 U.S. 281 (1876), U.s. v. Ross

Citation:92 U.S. 281, 23 L.Ed. 707
Case Date:May 08, 1876
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 281

92 U.S. 281 (1876)

23 L.Ed. 707




United States Supreme Court.

May 08, 1876


APPEAL from the Court of Claims.


Mr. Assistant Attorney-General Edwin B. Smith for the United States.

Mr. George Taylor, contra.

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MR. JUSTICE STRONG delivered the opinion of the court.

It is incumbent upon a claimant under the Captured or Abandoned Property Act to establish by sufficient proof that the property captured or abandoned came into the hands of a treasury agent; that it was sold; that the proceeds of the sale were paid into the treasury of the United States; and that he was the owner of the property, and entitled to the proceeds thereof. All this is essential to show that the United States is a trustee for him, holding his money. That there is in the treasury a fund arisen out of the sales of property captured or abandoned, a fund held in trust for somebody, and that the claimant's property, after capture or abandonment, came into the hands of a quartermaster of the army or a treasury agent, is not sufficient. There must be evidence connecting the receipt of it by the treasury agent with the payment of the proceeds of sale of that identical property into the treasury. We do not say that the evidence must be direct. It must, however, be such as the law recognizes to be a legitimate medium of proof; and the burden of proof rests upon the claimant who asserts the connection.

In the present case, the Court of Claims has not found as a fact that the claimant's cotton came into the hands of a treasury agent, that it was sold, and that the proceeds of that cotton were paid into the treasury. No connection between the cotton captured and the fund now held by the United States has been established. Certain facts have been found, and from them it was inferred, as matter of law, that other facts existed; and upon the facts thus inferred the court gave judgment.

We think that in this there was error. The claimant owned, in May, 1864, thirty-one bales of cotton, then in a warehouse in Rome, Ga. On the 18th of that month, Rome was captured by the United States forces; and shortly afterwards the cotton was removed on government wagons to a warehouse adjoining the railroad leading from Rome to Kingston, and connecting there with a road leading thence to Chattanooga. Whether it was the only cotton in that warehouse is not found; but it is inferrible from the other facts found that it was not. Subsequently (but how long afterwards does not appear) all of the cotton in that warehouse was shipped on the railroad to

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Kingston, the road being then in the possession of the military authorities. It is next shown that cotton (some cotton) arrived in Kingston from Rome before Aug. 19, 1864, and was forwarded to Chattanooga; that, on the 19th of August, forty two bales were received at Chattanooga from the quartermaster at Kingston; that thence they were shipped to Nashville, where they were received as coming from Kingston, turned over to the treasury agent, and sold. The proceeds of sale were paid into the treasury, and no title to these forty-two bales has been asserted by third persons.

Such were the facts found; and from them the court deduced, not as a conclusion of fact, but as a presumption of law, that the thirty-one bales removed on government wagons to the warehouse immediately...

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