War of the Rebellion: Serial 100 Page 0654

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Page 654
OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA. Chapter LIX.

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 genetlemen. 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 hospitaly by me 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 judment 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 bof 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 substantilly 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 aksed if I could put them in care of some person, at this expense, until the communication from Cedar Keys to New Orleans was opened. I told thim 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 then 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 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 feel 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 gentlemen who held them in possession coudl 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 S when he surrendered himself. But not so with the private effects of an individual, which I understood this to be. There being no duty on



Page 654
OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA. Chapter LIX.