May 27 - Testimony of Bennett F. Gwynn
B. F. GWYNN, for the accused, Samuel A. Mudd. By MR. EWING:
Q. State your full name.
A. Bennett F. Gwynn.
Q. Commonly called Ben. Gwynn?
A. Sometimes I am called Ben. Gwynn.
Q. Will you state whether, during last summer, in company with Captain White from Tennessee, Captain Perry, Lieutenant Perry, Andrew Gwynn, and George Gwynn, or either of them, you were about Dr. Samuel A. Mudd’s house for several days?
A. I was not. I do not know any of the parties named; and I never heard of them, except Andrew Gwynn and George Gwynn.
Q. Were you with your brothers, Andrew Gwynn and George Gwynn, about Dr. Mudd’s house last year?
A. No, sir.
Q. For any time?
A. I have not been in Dr. Mudd’s house since about the 1st of November, 1861. I have not been on his place, or nearer his place than church, since about the 6th of November, 1861.
Q. State what occurred in 1861, when you were in the neighborhood of Dr. Mudd’s house.
A. I was there with my brother, Andrew J. Gwynn, and Mr. Jerry Dyer. About that time, General Sickles came over into Maryland, arresting almost everybody. I was threatened with arrest; told I was to be arrested; and I went out of the neighborhood a while to avoid it. I went down into Charles County; staid about among friends there for a week or so, as almost everybody else was doing. There was a good deal of running about that time.
Q. Go on, and tell all about it.
ASSISTANT JUDGE ADVOCATE BINGHAM objected to the question. What occurred in 1861 was not in issue.
MR. EWING said the prosecution had called four or five witnesses to prove that several persons, among whom was the witness now on the stand, had been concealed in the neighborhood of Dr. Mudd’s house for a week, and that their meals were brought to them by him or his servants; and had attempted to show that those persons were in the Confederate service, and that Dr. Mudd was guilty of treason in assisting them to secrete themselves; and had stated that that occurrence took place last year or the year before. To prove by this witness and others that no such thing occurred last year or the year before might not be regarded as a complete answer to the allegation; and hence it was proposed now to show that the transaction referred to took place in 1861, at the beginning of the war, at a time of general terror in the community, and that some of the persons alleged to have been concealed there were not there. To withhold from the accused the right to prove this would be denying to him a most legitimate line of defence.
ASSISTANT JUDGE ADVOCATE BINGHAM replied that the Government had introduced no testimony in regard to any such transaction in 1861, and hence the testimony now proposed to be introduced was irrelevant and immaterial. If the witness should swear falsely as to that, it would not be legal perjury, because it was a matter not in issue. The witness could be inquired of as to the time when it was stated he had been there, but not as to what occurred in 1861.
The COMMISSION sustained the objection.
Q. [By MR. EWING.] Where did you, and the party who were with you near Dr. Mudd’s, sleep?
A. We slept in the pines near the spring.
Q. What did you sleep on?
A. We had some counterpanes.
Q. Where were they furnished from?
A. From Dr. Mudd’s.
Q. Where did you get your meals?
A. I think Dr. Mudd brought them.
Q. How long were you there?
A. Four or five days.
Q. State the circumstances of your being there, and what occurred when you were there.
A. As I said before, I left my neighborhood and went down there, and staid around in the neighborhood,—part of the time at his place, and part of the time elsewhere. He fed us there, gave us something to eat, and had some bed-clothing brought out of the house. That was all.
Q. Were you and the party with you in the house while there?
A. Part of the time, we were at the house.
A. Almost every day, I think, for a while.
Q. Where were your horses kept?
A. I do not know.
Q. Who attended to them?
A. I do not know.
Q. Was it a servant of Dr. Mudd?
A. I do not know. I suppose so.
Q. Do you know where John H. Surratt was at that time?
A. I think he was at St. Charles College then.
Q. Do you whether there were any charges against the party that were there?
A. I do not. I came up to Washington from the 5th to the 10th of November to give myself up. I was tired of being away. I came up here, and I think they said there were no charges against me, or something of that sort; and I took the oath, and went home.
Q. Did you learn whether or not there were or had been any charges against you?
A. I think they said there were none filed there.
Q. What induced the party to sleep in the pines?
A. I did it to avoid an arrest.
Q. What reason had you for supposing that you were to be arrested?
A. Almost everybody was being arrested down there, and I thought I should be too. It was understood that I was to be arrested, and I went down there.
Q. Have you seen Surratt in Charles County since?
A. I have not. I have seen him in Prince George’s County. I will state here that it was not in November I slept in the pines. It was in August, 1861, we slept in the pines; and it was November I came to Washington.
Q. How long was your party about the house then?
A. Four or five days. That was the time I spoke of being in the woods there. It was in the latter part of August, or the first of September.
Q. You spoke of Andrew J. Gwynn being with you there.
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Can you state where he has been since?
A. He has been South ever since, I have understood.
Q. What relation is he to you?
A. A brother.
Q Where was his home before he went South?
A. Prince George’s County.
Q. Where your home is?
A. No, sir: seven or eight miles off.
Q. Have you been living in Prince George’s County ever since?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you know whether Andrew J. Gwynn has been in that county, in Charles or Prince George’s County, since 1861?
A. I do not
Q. Have you ever heard of his being there?
A. I heard that he was over at one time; but I do not know it: I did not see him.
Q. At what time was that?
A. Some time during last winter, I think.
Q. Have you never heard of his being there since or before, after he went South?
A. No, sir.
Q. What time in 1861 did he go South?
A. In August.
Q. Do you know Albion Brooke?
A. I think so. I think he is a nephew of Jerry Dyer.
Q. State whether or not he was at Dr. Mudd’s house during that time.
A. Yes, sir: several times I saw him there.
Q. While the party was sleeping in the pines?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you know John H. Surratt?
A. Yes, sir.
By the JUDGE ADVOCATE:
Q. You say that all the matters to which you depose occurred in the fall of 1861?
A. In the latter part of August or the first part of September, 1861.
Q. You spoke of the universality of these arrests; was it not understood that they were confined to persons who were suspected of disloyal practices?
A. It was generally members of volunteer companies down there that were arrested.
Q. What kind of companies? Were they organized for the defence of the United States?
A. They were commissioned by Governor Hicks, of the State of Maryland.
Q. Upon what ground did you suppose you would be arrested?
A. I was captain of a cavalry company down there.
Q. Organized for what purpose?
A. It was called the home guard for the purpose of protection of the neighborhood.
Q. Against whom?
A. At that time there was a good deal of dissatisfaction amongst the blacks, and the persons of the neighborhood thought it would be a good plan to organize a company. Companies were organizing all through the counties. I petitioned Governor Hicks, and he gave me a commission.
Q. Was it not understood that these were State organizations, and intended to stand by the State in any disloyal position it might take against the Government?
A. That was my impression of them.
Q. And you were a captain of one of those companies?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. You felt, therefore, that it was likely you would be arrested?
A. I do not know that I did from that. Some of the members of my company were arrested, and I understood there was an order for my arrest; and I left.
Q. You slept there in the pines for the sole purpose of escaping that arrest?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Dr. Mudd, I suppose, fully concurred in your sentiments, and in the sentiment which pervaded the local military organization of which you speak?
A. I do not know. I hardly recollect what his sentiments were at the time, except politically.
Q. Did he know very well why you were hiding in the pines, and why he was feeding you?
A. Yes: he knew that.
By MR. EWING:
Q. When was the company of which you were captain organized?
A. I think, in the fall or winter of 1860.
Q. In what county was that company organized?
A. Prince George’s.
Q. Was it in the winter of 1859-60, 1860-61?
A. It was organized, I think, in 1860, the fall or winter of 1860. Before the end of 1860 it was organized.
Q. Was it organized before or after the election of Mr. Lincoln?
A. I do not know. I think we commenced getting it up before that time; but I do not know that it was fully organized until after that time.
Q. How far was the company organized from Dr. Mudd’s place?
A. About eight or ten miles.
Q. Do you know whether Dr. Mudd was a member of any of the volunteer companies?
A. I think he was.
Q. What company?
A. I do not know the name of it. It was a company gotten up in Bryantown, I think.
Q. Who was the captain of it?
A. That I do not know.
Q. Are you sure that he was a member of a company?
A. I think he was. I do not know it to my knowledge for a fact.