Edward C. Wiggins to Lincoln & Herndon, 18 June 18581St Louis June 18th 1858Messrs[Messieurs] Lincoln & HerndonSpringfieldGents.[Gentlemen]
I will be in Springfield by the Monday train from this city with a witness or two— and if we can have the case called on the afternoon or tuesday morning, I shall be very glad–2 The high water keeps me so busy that I have but little time to spareYours TrulyE. C. Wiggins
Treas[Treasurer] W F. Co3
2Wiggins is referring to the case of Wiggins Ferry Co. v. Steamer Ocean Spray. In the course of his employment by the Wiggins Ferry Company, ferry boat captain John Trendley had encountered the Steamer Ocean Spray on April 22, 1858, floating on the Mississippi River, unoccupied and on fire. Trendley had towed the steamer to the Illinois shore and extinguished the fire, and the Wiggins Ferry Company retained Herndon & Lincoln to sue the Ocean Spray in admiralty for salvage rights to the steamer’s cargo.
On Monday, June 21, 1858, Lincoln & Herndon appeared in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois and requested that Judge Samuel H. Treat assign a commissioner to take and report on witness testimony in the case. Treat granted the request and the court heard testimony on Tuesday, June 22. Following the testimony, the court ruled that the plaintiffs did indeed salvage the ship, and ordered that the wreck be sold by the court marshal on August 25, 1858. The sale yielded $940, of which the Wiggins Ferry Company received one third after the deduction of court costs.
Libel, Document ID: 64820, Wiggins Ferry Co. v. Steamer Ocean Spray, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), https://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=137607;The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 21 June 1858, https://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1858-06-21; 22 June 1858, https://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1858-06-22; John J. Duff, A. Lincoln: Prairie Lawyer (New York: Rinehart, 1960), 240.
3No response to this letter has been located, nor further correspondence between Wiggins and Abraham Lincoln on the subject of this lawsuit.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).