In 1852, a group that wanted to control the transportation business over the Central American peninsula established the City of Greytown in what is now Nicaragua. At the same time, the United States sponsored a competing transportation company partly owned by Nicaraguans. Hostilities between the companies came to a head when a Greytown mob threatened the American diplomat to Central America and injured him with a bottle. In response, the U.S. Secretary of the Navy sent Captain Hollins (defendant) to Greytown to collect compensation for damages done to the property of the U.S. supported company and an apology for the harm to the diplomat. Greytown officials did not comply with Captain Hollins’s request, and Hollins reacted by bombing and burning down the city. An American owner of property that was burned during the onslaught (plaintiff) sued Hollins. Hollins contended that his actions were defensible, because he was following orders.