Statement of David L. Yulee
respecting certain baggage
which he placed in the keeping of
Mr. M. A. Williams, at Waldo
Subscribed and sworn to before
J. W. Johnson, Captain,
Third USCT and Provost-Marshal
June 16, 1865
The circumstances attending my connection with the care of this baggage were the following:

On the evening of Wednesday (I think it was), May 24, I left Gainesville (where I had been for several days) for my
home, and reached there a little before sundown. Upon arriving there I found two strange gentlemen who were made
known to me as Captains Van Benthuysen (being brothers and of like rank). They were entire strangers to me. I had
never seen them nor heard their name before. They informed me they were officers from Virginia, belonging to a party
which had made their way to that region, and which had separated the day before in the neighborhood of my house. I
never saw any of the rest of the party nor did I know any of them; but I inferred there were none among them of equal
rank with these two gentlemen. I know no reason why these gentlemen should have come to my house, except that my
service at Washington had made me more known to the general public than others in Eastern Florida, and when they
found themselves in the same part of the State, came to me. They had been received with proper hospitality by my
household, and when I reached home it gave me pleasure to extend the welcome to them, as strangers, gentlemen, and
travelers. Upon learning from them that they had made their way to Florida with the purpose and expectation of reaching
Texas from the coast, I at once said to them that in my judgment their duty was to report themselves at once to the
proper officer in Florida, take their parole, return home to their families, and resume the duties of civil life. That I
considered the idea of any further protraction of the military struggle an absurdity, for that the forces under General
Smith could have no hope of maintaining themselves against the large Union armies liberated by the surrender of the
Confederate forces east of the Mississippi. That in my judgment pacification and reunion was the duty of the day for all
good men and good citizens. Such was substantially my discourse to them, although, of course, more in elaboration
than here given. I told them I was going back to Gainesville very early the next morning, and would take them there with
me, if they so pleased, whence they could proceed to
Jacksonville to report themselves at headquarters of the
department and obtain transportation home. They informed me they would adopt this course. Captain Van Benthuysen
(the elder) said he had with him two blooded mares which he had purchased from persons in the Kentucky brigade when
they were breaking up, and which he was desirous to keep. He asked if I could put them in care of some person, at his
expense, until the communication from Cedar Keys to New Orleans was opened. I told him that I would direct them to be
taken care of at my place, without expense to him, until he could send for them. He also said that they had more
baggage than they could take with them in the present condition of the roads, and asked permission to leave some of it
with me to be forwarded to New Orleans at same time with the horses, to which, of course, I assented. They had
presented to my family various articles of personal convenience, &c., no longer needed by them when they broke up
camp, and this, beside their gentlemanly and intelligent character, had attracted my kind feelings toward them, and I felt
pleasure in serving them. I afterward had reason to believe that this baggage comprised some of the personal private
effects of Mr. Davis, but I did not regard this as making any difference in the propriety of my giving them shelter and
care, as a temporary deposit, until by the opening of communication with New Orleans the gentleman who held them in
possession could provide for them. Public archives I would have considered property which was subject to capture, and
which the officer in charge of them should properly under the convention turn over to the United States Government
when he surrendered himself. But not so with the private affects of an individual, which I understood this to be. There
being no duty on the part of Captain Van Benthuysen to surrender them, there could be no reason why I should refuse
to him what seemed only a part of the duty of hospitality to a gentleman when once received as a guest in my house.

But there were other considerations which might have been sufficient to determine me. Mr. Davis and myself had been
associated for many years in public life at Washington, generally sympathizing in our political sentiments. During that
time I had contracted a personal friendship for him and admiration of his abilities, and had also been the recipient of
personal kindnesses from him. Steadily through two or three years of the late war his Government, through its officials at
Richmond and in Florida, had pursued me and the interests I represented with a spirit, as I thought, of vindictiveness,
and I had been led, with regret, to believe, from what was communicated to me by one of the delegation from this State,
that he participated with them in hostile feeling toward me. But he had formerly been my personal friend; I regarded him
to be a man of much nobleness of character, was still attached to him, and he was fallen into misfortune and danger.
The only demand made upon me was that, as the person who had charge of some baggage of his was unable to take it
along with him, I would give it house room until it could be forwarded, with his horses, to New Orleans. The gentleman
upon whom Mr. D misfortune had devolved the duty of its preservation was a stranger in the country and devolved the
duty of its preservation was a stranger in the country and had no other resource than appeal to my kindness. It would
have been unjust to my memories of an ancient friend and ungenerous toward a fallen great man, as well as exposing
me to the imputation of a eventful sentiment, that I should refuse to take charge for a short time, as the agent of
another, of some of his private effects thus accidentally, without his design or my expectation, thrown under my roof, in a
region of country where I was perhaps the only citizen who knew him personally, and had enjoyed his hospitality and
frequently also his friendly service and aid in former days. It would have been repugnant to my nature to reject the
request for this slight service under the circumstances, and I could not have refused if even the application had been
made directly in behalf Mr Davis, and as from himself. But such was not the case. It was as the agent of Captain V that I
undertook to give place and care to a deposit of his baggage (*some of which belonged to another) until
communications with his place of residence were open. It was a service I was willing to do any gentleman, and the
circumstance that some of the articles were the private effects of an old friend could not, of course, diminish my
willingness, I, however told Captain V that I would soon take my family to Kentucky on a visit to their relatives and that I
would place them in the custody of some friend, where they might be convenient to be reached by him when he wished
to take them.

I spent only one night at home, and took the gentlemen with me before breakfast the next morning to Gainesville, where
I was that morning arrested under General Gillmore's order. This arrest leading me to expect that I would be carried
immediately to Washington, and being unwilling to leave my family here without a protector, I determined to send them at
once to Kentucky to the parental roof of Mrs. Yulee during my captivity, and directed this baggage to be placed in
charge of the agent at Waldo, whose care of them I afterward requested.

After my arrest I very well perceived that the circumstance, if exposed without explanation, was liable to complicate my
case and injure the prospect of a frank consideration of my true relations to the Confederate movement by the
authorities who had caused my arrest. But I consider it would be craven in me then to change my position, and although
I think that under the circumstances it would have been considerate and proper in Captain V to have relieved me by
withdrawing his request I would not and did not suggest it to him. Nor having rejected the acquaintance of these two
gentlemen, nor refused the temporary charge they committed to me, the circumstances concerning themselves and their
deposit remained their property, for them to communicate or not as suited their interest and pleasure. I had no right to
use my knowledge nor to impart it, unless in answer to direct inquiry demanding direct answer. Especially was this so
after my becoming a prisoner, as it would have exposed me to the imputation of seeking personal favor and relief by
making myself an informer. No question was ever put to me here which required or authorized me to communicate my
knowledge.

The two gentlemen named above came to
Jacksonville, reported themselves immediately upon their arrival, took their
parole, and remained in the place about two weeks.

It is, perhaps, proper for me to add, in order to exclude any impression that any property of Mr. Davis came to me by
design of the owner, and as his agent, that I have never received any communication of any nature whatever, political or
otherwise, from Mr. Davis since we parted in Washington in February 1861, except one brief letter in that year declining
to grant a military appointment to which I had specially recommended a citizen of the State. I also add that Mr. Williams,
in whose charge the baggage was found, knew nothing of the ownership or contents of the baggage. This whole agency
was under my direction. I will also add that Captain V told me he was ignorant of the contents of the baggage. I was,
therefore, entirely ignorant of the nature of the contents and remained so until what I have learned here; but from the
circumstances I was fully impressed with the belief that it was altogether the private perfect effects of Mr. Davis.

D. L. Yulee.


Contents of baggage certified by Ed. W. Denny, Lieutenant and Aide-de-Camp
Inventory of private property of Jefferson Davis captured at Waldo, Fla, June 15, 1865, and forwarded to headquarters
Department of the South, at Hilton Head, S. C., in charge of Capt. O. E. Bryant, assistant provost-marshal of
Jacksonville, Fla.: First, one leather trunk containing the following articles, viz: Three woolen coats, 1 linen duster, 3
pairs pants, 3 woolen vests, 1 woolen tippet, 1 small dressing case, 2 towels, 1 pistol-nine shooter, 1 case of
ammunition, 1 pair woolen socks, 1 silk undershirt, 2 pairs woolen drawers, 1 silk scarf (neck-tie), 1 pistol holster
(leather), 2 dressing robes, 8 linen shirts (dirty).

Second, one box marked "No. 1," containing the following named articles, viz: Fifteen pairs socks, 5 undershirts, 3 pairs
drawers 1 double-barreled revolver, with molds, ammunition, &c; quantity of smoking and plug tobacco, case ornaments
of brass; brush, comb, and razor-strap; 1 pair of boots, gaiters, and slippers (worked); 2 toothbrushes; 1 pistol-case,
furnished; 1 pair of holsters with pistols enclosed, 2 full packages metallic cartridges.

Transferred from trunk to box No. 2 for convenience in packing: Two pair lace shoes, 1 pair boots, 1 pair gauntlets, 2
pair socks, 1 roll court-plaster [Editor: cloth coated with an adhesive substance and used to cover cuts or scratches on
the skin.], 1 woolen shirt, 1 pair drawers, 1 package of important papers, &c., 1 small bundle containing eye glasses, a
plain ring, &c.

Third, one box marked "No. 2," containing the following articles, viz: Private correspondence and miscellaneous papers,
blank envelopes, and note paper, $20,000 rebel money, 6 boxes cigars, portraits of Davis, wife and General Lee, 2
photographs of a rebel major-general, 1 portfolio.

I certify, on honor, that the above is a correct and complete inventory of the contents of the trunk and two boxes
forwarded to department headquarters.  

Finding the baggage (Captain O. E. Bryant)
Office Provost-Marshal,
Jacksonville, Fla., June 16, 1865.

Capt. S. L. McHenry,
Assistant Adjutant-General, District of Florida:

Sir: I have the honor to report the capture, at Waldo, Fla., of Jefferson Davis' private trunk and two chests containing
important papers, with horses and wagons used by his followers in attempting to escape from the country.

In obedience to your orders I proceeded to Gainesville with eight men of my company, where I ascertained that on the
24th ultimo a party of eleven men had encamped in the woods near Archer. Learning that Jeff. Davis had been
captured, they separated; some went to Mr. Yulee's, near where they left an ambulance containing one trunk and two
chests, and three saddle horses. Others went to a Mr. Edward Hale's, remaining there several days, and left with him
one wagon, with mules and three saddle-horses. They represented themselves as members of Jeff. Davis' personal
staff, and that as he had been captured they had abandoned the attempt to leave the country, and should deliver
themselves up to the U. S. Authorities for transportation to their homes. Capt. Watson Van Benthuysen appeared to be
the leader or principal of this portion of the party. I immediately proceeded to Mr. Yulee's, which place I reached
Tuesday evening, met Mrs. Yulee, claimed and received the hospitality of the house, and ascertained from her that the
ambulance and horses were there, but that the trunk and chests had been removed. I asked her to state frankly where I
might find them. After a moment's reflection she said that they were the private effects of Mr. Davis, and she had
received them that she might deliver them to Mrs. Davis, who was an esteemed friend; that Mr. Yulee had given them in
charge to a Mr. Meader to deliver to a Mr. Williams, at Waldo, for safe-keeping, and that these parties being agents on
the Florida Railroad and friends of Mr. Yulee, had no suspicion of the nature of the property entrusted to them. I at once
started on my return to Waldo. On my way I received the property left in charge of Mr. Hale. He represented that Captain
Van Benthuysen and one other came to his place, claimed his hospitality, staid a few days, and left the horses with him
to sell as their private property. Thursday morning I sought Mr. Williams, at Waldo, and found the trunk and chests in a
store-room adjoining his house, unguarded by even a lock. I respectfully deliver them to you for your disposition. I have
also to deliver a French rifle musket, a most murderous weapon, which I have received from Mrs. Yulee as the private
property of Jefferson Davis.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
O. E. Bryant
Captain Co. D,
34th USCT and Asst. Pro. Mar.

The Correspondence (in report of I. Vogdes, Brigadier -General of Volunteers)
The general description of the contents of the packages referred to above as of special importance is as follows: The
manuscript opinions of Davis' cabinet (excepting Trenholm) on the terms of agreement between Generals Sherman and
Johnston on the 18th of April. A key to the cipher used by the rebel Government, with explanatory letter. A letter from
Eugene Musson, with indorsement by J. P. Benjamin. A letter signed E. G. Booth, dated Wilmington, N. C., March 14. A
letter of condolence from D. L. Yulee to Mr. Davis.
Like us on Facebook
Custom Search
David Levy Yulee
Jefferson Davis
General Israel Vogdes
General Q. A. Gillmore
Head of
Department of the South
Circular on Territory to
State
Levy Citizenship Part 3
U. S. War Department
Bureau of Military Justice
Moses Levy and David
Yulee Biography
Levy Seminole War
Resolution
Fight between Florida
Judicary and CSA over
Florida Railroad
Levy Citizenship Part 1
Speech on Escaped St.
Augustine Slaves
Speech on Leaving the U.
S. Senate
Levy Citizenship Part 2
Statement on Jefferson
Davis' baggage
1843 Legislative Issues