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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Deposition of William Haslan concerning the movements of British troops
Haslan, William
December 06, 1778
Volume 13, Pages 332-334

[From Executive Letter Book.]

23d Decr.

Last night were seen off this Bar upwards of a hundred ships, which it is probable may make an attempt on this Town.

Savannah in Georgia, Sunday 6th Decr. 1778.

The examination of William Haslan, a No. Carolinian, late belonging to the Transport ship called the Neptune, of which one McDougald is commander, as follows:

The examined says he arrived in the said ship last Sunday afternoon at Tybee, having been out from Sandy Hook, that day was

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three weeks, that the said ship was one of a fleet consisting of about twenty sail, which were lying at Sandy Hook, ready to sail, that a violent storm having come on, the ship Neptune and another ship parted with their anchors, and were obliged to put to sea. That after they came out that Capt. McDougald issued his orders, which were to proceed to Tybee in Georgia, and there remain for 48 hours, and if the rest of the fleet did not arrive in that time, then to proceed to St. Mary's, and there wait till the fleet should arrive at Georgia. That he understood the Army on board the said Transports consisted of about 5000 men, and thinks they would be ready to sail the day next after he came away. That they were to come under the convoy of the Phoebus, a 40 Gun ship, the Vigilance, a large floating Battery; a row Galley and one or two sloops of War. That the army was mostly composed of refugees from America, and that Genl. Skinner commanded a part of it called the Jersey Volunteers, but that there are among them three Battalions of British regulars belonging, as the examinant was informed, to the seventy first Regiment. That the Neptune has on board her upwards of 100 men besides fourteen mariners who have chiefly their families with them, and say they are come to winter in Georgia. That they are called the Jersey Volunteers, and are under the command of Col. Allen, who has large possessions either in Jersey or Pennsylvania. That the Neptune is of no force but Musqueteers, that they have had very bad weather, since they put to sea, and were near being lost as they came into Tybee. That they saw nothing at sea, since they left Sandy Hook, but one small vessel which they took to be a privateer, two days before they came in. That there was a large fleet with about 10,000 men on board, left New York about three weeks before the Neptune came away bound, as the examinant understood, for Virginia, but he saw or heard nothing of them since. That he heard no talk lately of any thing coming against South Carolina, but that it wasthe common talk that the 5000 men before mentioned were coming to winter in Savannah. That last night and the night before he heard a number of large Guns fire out at sea, and takes it to be some of the fleet. That he had not lately before he came away been up at New York, but saw a petition down at Staten Island, signed, as it was said, by 5000 men belonging to the Jerseys, praying to be taken into the British service. That he heard
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no other news but that it was the common report. That the orders now were to burn and destroy all who would not submit.

The above sworn to before me, the day above written.

Additional Notes for Electronic Version: The first sentence of this document, dated December 23, is a postscript to a letter from Benjamin Lincoln and Richard Caswell (csr13-0401), and not a part of the deposition.