New York Times Article about Ship Senator

16 Feb

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November 19, 1863

The Case of the Ship Senator, Alleged to have been Scuttled by the Captain.; SUPERIOR COURT TRIAL TERM. Before Justice Robertson.

Edwin Walsh vs. The Washington Marine Insurance Company. — This action is brought to recover on an insurance policy on the ship Senator. The Senator sailed from this port, loaded with grain, and was lost at sea on the 27th of August, 1862, as is claimed by plaintiff, during a heavy gale. The ship was insured in five Companies. Only one, the Neptune, has paid the amount of its policy without contest. Suits are pending against the others. The defence allege that the vessel was so old and unseaworthy that she cropped to pieces; that she was not lost in a gale, but foundered in ordinary weather from weakness and being overloaded. The amount involved is over $35,000. The Captain of the Senator has been arrested, charged with scuttling the ship. The case has occupied the Court for several days. The evidence of well-known sea-captains, and of the plaintiff himself, was given at great length to show the seaworthiness of the vessel at the time of sailing. On the part of the defence the mates of the Senator were examined. The second mate, Mr. Thompson, testified that before sailing part of the cabin furniture, spare sails, cordage, &c., were sent ashore. That part of the lower hold was not stowed; that she commenced making water the evening of the first day out and on the fifth day she had five and a half feet of water in the hold. They had, in his opinion, no rough weather — nothing more than a good stiff breeze. On the fifth day the master of the ship asked Thompson to go among the men and frighten them in regard to the condition of the vessel. In consequence of what Thompson told them, the men went aft to the Captain and it was decided to abandon the vessel. At that time the weather was calm and pleasant. The first mate was also examined and testified that with the assistance of the Captain he had scuttled the ship, although in the protest he swore that she was lost through the stress of weather. The witnesses for the defence were subjected to a rigid and lengthy cross-examination by plaintiff’s counsel.

Testimony was afterward introduced by the plaintiff to discredit the evidence of Thompson, the second mate.

The case has excited an unusual degree of attention among seamen and stevedores during the week that it has occupied the Court.

Verdict for plaintiff for $5,243 61.

Elbridge T. Gerry and Wm.C. Noyes for plaintiff; Townsend Scudder and Wm.D. Booth for defendants.

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