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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Deposition of Samuel Cooper concerning the destruction of Fort Johnston
Cooper, Samuel
August 07, 1775
Volume 10, Pages 130-131

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B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: No. Carolina. No. 222.]
Depositions about the burning of Fort Johnston.

Samuel Cooper Master of the Ship Unity belonging to Plymouth in the Kingdom of Great Britain being sworn on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, Deposeth and Saith,

That on or about the 17th day of July last he this Deponent together with Captain Cheeseman Master of the Brigantine Success coming in this Deponents boat from Wilmington to the Flatts in Cape Fear River it being the same day on which a certain Colonel Ashe sailed for Brunswick in Roger's Sloop, which had been pressed for the purpose of carrying him and a number of armed men. They overtook the said Sloop and a certain Mr Robinson as this Deponent hath heard and being informed then on board the said sloop, hailed this Deponent's boat and informed them that Colonel Ashe desired they would come alongside and drink some Toddy which they complied with. That while this Deponent and his Company were on board the said Sloop the persons appearing to be officers and part of the armed men then on board her in general avowed that their Expedition was with intent to take His Majesty's Fort Johnston and the said Robinson in the hearing of Col. Ashe and the other officers requested this Deponent's people in the Boat (being four in number) to hold themselves in readiness to assist in the glorious Enterprize or words to that effect and asked if they would go with them, his people replied they had fought for their King on board a Man of War and when they chose to fight it should be there again. This Deponent saith, that while they were drinking some Toddy, the said Robinson said he would give them a Toast and accordingly said Damnation to all Tories and that Tory the Governor, meaning the Governor of Fort Johnston, Captain Collet, and if you want fresh provisions we will send you his Quarters (meaning the Governors) up to the Flatts. This Deponent furthur saith that about midnight of the 17th aforesaid a certain Captain Smith brought a letter on board this Deponent's Ship and having procured a light this Deponent read the contents and found the substance thereof to be, that Colonel Ashe requested the Masters and Commanders of the Ships at the Flatts to assist him with what Boats, Men and Swivil Guns they could spare, in the glorious cause of liberty, which letter was signed John Ashe.

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And this Deponent further saith that on the 16th of the said month of July, this Deponent gave leave to his Mate Boatswain and Carpenter to go to Brunswick to see an old shipmate on board one of the Vessels then lately arrived from England, saith he was informed that on their return they were ordered by a person on board a small schooner full of armed men to bring too which they neglecting they were fired upon by some of the armed people and not bringing too were again fired at, they then thought it more safe to go alongside the Schooner, and severely reprehended them for so cowardly an act as firing on an unarmed Boat, the fellows excused themselves by saying they had no intention to hurt them but only to frighten them as they knew they were Englishmen and would be frightened at a flash in the pan, they then forced this Deponent's People to land the armed Men with their Boat.

(Signed) SAMl COOPER.