If the ws cache is empty, that means the repository hasn't successfully started up (it hasn't been successfully initialized, as the system area is always created first, hence the == 1 check).
We have several unit tests that validate the initial content behavior, so I suspect that something else is wrong here.
Are there any other warning/errors in the startup logs ? Do this still occur if you remove the "transactionMode" attribute ?
Just one warning
WARN [main] org.infinispan.transaction.lookup.GenericTransactionManagerLookup: ISPN000104: Falling back to DummyTransactionManager from Infinispan
But indeed, if I remove the transactionMode attribute the issue is gone.