War of the Rebellion: Serial 115 Page 1012 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

I, George Jansen one of the steward's men of steamer Orizaba, do swear that on the morning of the 4th of November, 1861, somewhere bettween the hours of 11 a. m. and 12 m., I was in the dining saloon and saw Mr. Calhoun Benham coming out of his state-room, Numbers 20, having a roll of documents or papers of some kind in his hand and also a ackage. The roll of paper was about two feet long and between two and three inches in diameter. He passed along the saloon to state room Numbers 13, occupied by Mr. J. S. Stockwell and dMr. Joswph L. Brent. The head steward, A. C. Hormenz, told me to go on deck and see if the sasid documents were thrown overboard, stating at the ssame time that the port window of the state-room occupied by said Benham was over the guard and that he culd not throw them overboard from it, and this from my own observation I know to be correct as I afterward examined the prot window of said state-room and found it to be over the guard which was several feet in width. I then went on deck in compliance with the steward's instructins, and fro the purpose of obtaining a good view of the port of state-room Numbers 13 went upon that part of the deck immediately over it, leaned over the railing and saw immediately afterward the same roll that I had seen Mr. Calhoun Benham enter said state-room with thrown overboard from the said port. I went and informed General Sumner of this fact and then went immediately back to my former position at the railing and saw a large black book thrown out of the said port by Mr. Joswph Brent, from the fact of his putting his head out of the window and looking around at the time he threw the book overboard. A few minutes after I saw a package thrown out from the said port. At a short interval I ssaw a package thrown out and shortly afterward anothe package appearing to contain small books or papers and tied up in a cloth handkerchief, and in a few minutes afterward saw a larger package appearing to contain letters or papers of some kind and tied up in a towel. Lieutenant J. J. Upham was standing at the railing at the time this last package was thrown overboard and I pointed it out to him.


Sworn to and subscribed before me this 4th day of November, 1861 there being no civil officer present competent to adminsiter oaths.


Lieutenant-Colonel third Artillery.


Bay of Panama, November 5, 1861.


Commanding Troops, Steamship Orizaba.

SIR: In obesdience to the command of Brigadier-General Sumner communicated by you to me I proceeded yesterday with the junior officer of the day, Lieutenant Dandy, to take possession of the papers of Messrs. Gwin, Benham and Brent, passengers on board this steamer. Upon iforming these gentlemen of my object they each in turn protested against it and demanded my authority in writing. I then presented the following order:

STEAMSHIP ORIZABA, November 4, 1861.

The officer of the day, Captain Judd, will immediately seize all the papers belonging to Messrs. Gwin, Benham and Brent, prisoners of state.


Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.