File No. 451.11B74/38

The Ambassador in France (Sharp) to the Secretary of State


942. Have obtained preliminary copy of prize court’s decision declaring capture Dacia valid, main points of which are as follows:

French cruiser captured Dacia which declared she was bound from Norfolk to Rotterdam, while papers showed cargo to be from Texas for Bremen. Although Breitung claims sale was made to him in normal course of his mercantile business and not with intent to avoid consequences of war, yet vessel was previous to and at moment of outbreak of hostilities plying between ports of Germany and Gulf of Mexico, and manifestly remained thereafter at Port Arthur, Texas, to avoid capture. On December 9, 1914, E. von Novelty and Company made contract with Tom B. Owens to transport cargo of 11,000 bales of cotton from Galveston to Bremen, per Dacia, and agreeing that said vessel would be under American register and flag. On December 10 and 12 Owens sold to Harold von Luistow [Linstow] of Bremen 11,000 bales of cotton to be transported on Dacia. Vessel was sold to Von Novelly and transferred to Edward Breitung. Even on the supposition of the reality of Dacia transfer she had not only continued to trade with enemy as in the past, but also at time of capture was on voyage for which chartered while still under German flag. Decision advances arguments to show that transfer of vessel under neutral flag was with object of trade with enemy and to avoid capture.

Text and translation will be forwarded by steamer sailing from England 18th instant.1

  1. Not printed.