APPEAL from the District Court for Massachusetts.
The steamer Siren was captured in the harbor of Charleston in attempting to violate the blockade of that port, in February, 1865, by the steamer Gladiolus, belonging to the navy of the United States. She was placed in charge of a prize master and crew, and ordered to the port of Boston for adjudication. On her way she was obliged to put into the port of New York for coal, and, in proceeding thence through the narrow passage which leads to Long Island Sound, known as Hurlgate, she ran into and sank the sloop Harper, loaded with iron, and bound from New York to Providence, Rhode Island. The collision was regarded by this court, on the evidence, as the fault of the Siren.
On the arrival of the steamer at Boston, a libel in prize was filed against her, and no claim having been presented, she was, in April following, condemned as lawful prize, and sold. The proceeds of the sale were deposited with the assistant treasurer of the United States, in compliance with the act of Congress, where they now remain, subject to the order of the court.
In these proceedings the owners of the sloop Harper, and the owners of her cargo, intervened by petition, asserting a claim upon the vessel and her proceeds, for the damages sustained by the collision, and praying that their claim might be allowed and paid out of the proceeds.
The District Court held that the intervention could not be allowed, and dismissed the petitions; and hence the present appeals.
Mr. Ashton, Assistant Attorney-General Of the United States, argued the case fully, upon principles and authority, maintaining the correctness of the decree below upon several specific grounds, resolvable into these two general ones:
1st. That to allow the intervention would be, in substance, to allow the citizen to implead the government, which, he asserted, was universally repugnant to settled principles; and,
2d. That the question as to a claim upon a prize ship, created after capture, was not within the jurisdiction of a prize court, which, he contended, can deal only with the question of prize or no prize.
Mr. Causten Browne, contra.
Mr. Justice FIELD delivered the opinion of the court.