Political struggles

Events Leading to the Eureka Stockade

Argus 20 April 1853, 4/3: [EDITORIAL]:


When we lately asserted that a section of six hundred and forty acres of land at Mount Alexander had lately been made over, at the upset price, to a private friend, and even possibly to this very day a partner, of Mr. La Trobe, we were met by a degree of unbelief not very complementary [sic] to a journal which speaks the truth, "impugn it whoso list." The hangers-on of the Executive were, of course, ready with their excuses, and presuming upon our then having no official returns to refer to, they boldly asserted that the land in question had been alienated long before an ounce of gold had ever been found at Mount Alexander. It is in this impudent way that public acts of the deepest iniquity are constantly excused; either audacious denial is resorted to, or some tricky tissue of absurdity is vamped up, which shall serve to turn aside the full force of public indignation. In many instances, indeed, the act is so flagrant as to lead to disbelief from the extremity of its turpitude, and people become incredulous from the very magnitude of the offence.

Since we first alluded to this affair, however, a return relative to the waste lands of the colony has been issued from the Government printing office, in accordance with an address from Mr. O’Shanassy on the 24th August. It was laid upon the table and ordered to be printed on 23rd December, and it was circulated at the latter end of April, having been delayed all this time; we firmly believe, that such deeds as this might be hidden as long as possible; if possible till the Lieutenant-Governor had performed the last act of his ignoble rule. In one of these returns we find it duly recorded that William Barker applied for 1280 acres of land near Mount Alexander, and that he was allowed 640 acres at the upset price. To show how true it is that this alienation of the public property took place before the discovery of gold in that immediate neighborhood, we may mention that, although it is still wisely, or rather craftily, concealed at what precise date this claim was "allowed," the "application" to purchase was not made till the 22nd of May, 1852, and at that time the escorts were bringing gold from Mount Alexander at rates varying from 20,000 to 30,000 ounces a week.

Thus, although to this day the digger is a wanderer upon the earth, the squatter gets his section of land, which may one day turn out richly auriferous, at the upset price of one pound per acre. One man is allowed to steal a horse, while another may not look over the hedge. While the miner cannot, at any price, purchase the land on which to grow a cabbage for himself, or a bundle of green-stuff for his horse, the squatter-friend of the Governor has six hundred and forty acres virtually given to him.

And to make matters worse, if that were possible, this act is illegal, according to the strict letter of the law, as it is monstrous in the grossness of its favoritism and its practical injustice. According to the whole tenor of the Orders in Council, no sale can be legally made to the squatter, till after the issue of the leases. The leases never have been issued; and, as we have always said, since this attempt at a wholesale robbery was first promulgated, we do not believe that they ever will be. In the face of this, however, Mr. Barker gets his land, while the digger able and willing to pay, probably, twenty times the price, looks on and wishes; till hope deferred makes the heart sick, and he "knocks down" his earnings at the public-house under the benign patronage of the "drunkard’s friend," the president of the Church of England Temperance Association!

Geelong Advertiser 28 October 1854, 4/4-5: [Ballarat correspondent]:

My military knowledge being somewhat deficient, I am unable to furnish you with details clothed in technical language, of the operations of the allied forces here present. But I may say that the allied force consists of about 400 soldiers, some 100 or 150 mounted, and perhaps an equal number of foot police. An irregular contingent named specials, though called on, has not yet made its appearance; and it is more than likely that their assistance will not be required, as the "enemy" is not to be found at present in any number. The allied force is at present engaged in looking out for the best camping ground outside of the township. A place situated between the township and the Black Hill has been considered well adapted for the purpose, being such that the camp, in the event of a surprise, can easily have the necessary assistance promptly rendered, and, at the same time, the situation chosen renders a surprise a matter of a somewhat difficult nature. It may not be uncared for that a fine bird’s eye view of the various diggings is commanded from the same point, so that if peace be maintained, the heroes may at their leisure, study the picturesque and if hostilities begin, the artillery on the road from town may do the state some service. The plan of the campaign, in so far as may be guessed at by one of the uninitiated, seems to consist in harrassing [sic ? obsolete form] the enemy by sending out detachments of horse and foot on the ground on the flat, where they are thought to be posted, and where, now and then, a few stragglers are caught, who are not in possession of documents to prove that they belong to the allied force. To-day I saw them return, after a remarkably brilliant affair, having succeeded in capturing no less than four of the unlicensed, with whom they returned without loss, notwithstanding a severe fire kept up, in which the Joe Joe’s [sic] flew about in a sufficiently alarming style. I regret to say that, while on this service, one man (a private) was badly wetted in the left leg, but a glass of brandy and a change of stockings having been obtained, he is progressing favourably. Taking into account the dangerous duty performed, the numbers engaged—some ten horse and twenty foot police, perhaps—and the successful result, the affair may be considered as auguring well for a speedy and honorable termination of hostilities, or at all events a return of the status ante bellum.

Several notes have been interchanged by the parties engaged in the contest and ambassadors are almost hourly having audiences at the Camp. The latest interview was on he part of the watch and clock-makers here, who enquired, as reported, if it would be necessary for them to keep Melbourne time. It was most politely intimated to them that Ballarat time was good enough, provided they were not too fast.

With the exception of a few of the troops suffering from a tremulous and unsteady motion in the evening, a throbbing of the temples and feverish symptoms in the morning, the combined forces are in the enjoyment of good health. The greatest precautions are taken to prevent a surprise; sentries are placed around the camp in all directions, and unless by giving the counter sign no one can gain admittance during the night, or in fact I may say from an early hour in the evening.

This practice has been attended with good results, inasmuch as it has prevented Correspondents from obtaining a confirmation or refutation of the thousand and one rumours in circulation during the evenings. Naturally enough, such animals run to the Camp for the latest authentic information; but as naturally now are they afraid to trust themselves to the tender mercies of every clodhopper armed with authority to fire at all who don’t give the "Open sesame." If you could pick up some one who has "been amang them takin’ notes" during a civil war, or the like, it might be well to have him engaged so that he could fill my place in the event of my pursuit after knowledge bringing me into too intimate acquaintance with some of the outposts.

But a truce to this. What in the name of common sense has brought so great a force here? Our late riotous proceedings; but they are passed and gone—for once, from being the most orderly of the gold fields we became the most unruly; to suppose that we did so from mere wantonness is absurd; we must have had a cause or a semblance of a reason; want of force in the shape of military was neither the cause nor the reason; and yet that is forwarded with all haste as if it were.

We ask for bread, and we get a stone; we demand, in a rough and disorderly way, no doubt, to have some regard paid to our miserable condition, and the military and police are sent to enquire into the facts. It is ridiculous. The deed was done, and with the exception of a little wholesome agitation, the whole field has again sunk into that state of quietism which has made us proverbial; our past might have gone guarantee for our future, after the one startling demonstration. It cannot be that there is any foundation for the prevailing rumour that the old 30s. per month license fee is to be re-established, and that the whole available force of the Colony is to be kept here until we are cowed into submission to pay it. Such is the version of the latest dispatches, "on good authority." If such are really Sir Charles’ intentions I much fear that he has over-calculated both his power and our endurance. Times are not so pregnant with sunshire [sic] that he requires another cloud to dim the political horizon. I would much rather believe in another report given out, that his Excellency is about to revisit us and personally investigate the whole matter; such a proceeding on his part would be productive of the greatest possible good.

We are precluded the ordinary privilege of commenting on passing events here, as the matter is under judicial investigation, and perhaps it may be as well that we should all cool down somewhat, left [sic] we prejudge many who are in the hands of the law.

With the exception of Joeing the force here when they pass along the road, or having a yarn about the next thing likely to turn up, we are as quiet as we ever were, and were it not that the papers are full of the affair, and that we are anxiously awaiting the result of your Circuit Court, the whole matter before this would have ceased to be a nine days’ wonder. Mrs Hanmer gave a benefit last night in aid of the Defence Fund; there was a very large house and the benefit for the fund will be so literally. Mrs Hanmer’s liberality and characteristic style of acting in the piece of the evening (the Stranger) which she has made her own, were fully appreciated.

Mr Hetherington, of the Royal, intends following the example set, and give a benefit to aid in compensating those who suffered from their proximity to the Eureka Hotel on the 17th.

Mr Clarke, of the Queen’s, I believe will soon follow in their wake.

The only fear we correspondents have is that in another week we must fall back on fatal accidents and minor rushes to eke out a decentish letter. All excitement about late affairs must come from town in future—already it is anxiously looked for.

We have splendid summer weather—the water begins to get scarce.

Geelong Advertiser 30 October 1854, 4/5-6: [Ballarat correspondent]:

I wish that some member of the Legislative Council would move for the official correspondence regarding the late burning and rioting. Unless very uncalled for language had been used, I cannot see why so many soldiers and police came to be sent up here.

We require no dragooning to compel us to fall back into our former state of order; long before the first detachment arrived, we had, so far as we were concerned, forgotten the whole transaction, and the present display of force can serve no good purpose. For the apprehension of those who were ring-leaders, our old force alone was quite sufficient, the present numbers (by some estimated at 1500,) can do no more for the simplest of reasons, there is nothing else required of them; unless perhaps their presence is essential to a thorough investigation of the last six months doings at the camp here. It is given out that we are to have many of them sent back again immediately; I hope so, as they are perfectly useless here, and may be of service at their old quarters.

Somehow or other, you townsfolks appear to have got it into your heads, that the whole field is in open rebellion, or at least was so very lately; such is not the case; for once—for a moment only, under the strongest excitement, we forgot our habitual reverence for order, and set the laws at defiance; the burning of the Eureka Hotel, was neithermore nor less than this—it was the act of men driven to the last stage of endurance, under a system of misrule, which professed to be constitutional government, and from whose power nothing short of what was done, or something similar, could have relieved them; anything less would have failed to ensure public attention for one moment; the press, local and general, reiterated that something was wrong; but it is said the observations were too vague. Why were they not more specific?—Just because there is a beautiful libel law under which vagueness alone was safe.

Imagine for a moment that the Press occupied, for the violation of this same libel law, a position similar to that of those committed for participating in the late fire, would it have had any sympathy under the difficulty, and while rendering the colony service? Not a particle. I have more than once given to the flame facts which would have brought out many of the things now complained of, but then the law of libel hung over my head. Moreover, when such vantage ground is held as those who administer the laws on the gold fields occupy, it is no easy task for a private individual to unravel the whole plot and prove the facts.

A glance at the report of the late general sessions here would lead to strong suspicion that there was a screw loose in the Camp, for unless such was the case how could Sweeney —? Confound that law of libel, I hope I have not run foul of it as it is.

But as we are to have an investigation by his Excellency in person I hear, all these matters will soon become known, and if the public are invited to lay their complaints before him in an open Court, I doubt not but that the first consequence will be astonishment that we were not driven to rebellion ere now. When, or in what direction his Excellency may arrive here is variously reported. Some go so far as to say that he has been for four or five days already in the Camp looking into matters. If so, he must have been very busy within doors, as he has not been seen publicly as yet. License-hunting still goes on: a few are taken from time to time, but they cost too much. One of the troopers the other day, while out on this duty, met with an accident which might have terminated fatally; his horse’s foot got into one of the numerous holes around, and of course both came to the ground, and rolled and struggled there for some time: the man had to be conveyed to the Camp in a cart.

Every corner of the Camp is taken up in attempting to accommodate the men and horses now poured in on us: the men are shoved away anywhere under cover, and the horses are tied to a fence. For a good many nights, between patrolling outside the Camp and keeping the remainder of the force under arms, but little rest was given to either man or beast; from what I hear, the collection of such a force at this place, may lead to some harm among themselves, as neither the men nor the officers pull well together. A part of the military, as I said before, is camped between the township and the Black Hill; I see that they are making a road, or something of that sort, from the one eminence to the other; by such arrangements, in case of emergency, the support of the one party can be relied on by the other.

Late this evening, we were informed that Messrs Fletcher and Macintyre were to appear in Melbourne next month; this new arrangement if far from satisfactory to the diggers; they cannot be made to see how it is necessary to take them from Ballarat for trial, (Macintyre was committed to take his trial here at first, then it was altered to Geelong, and now comes Melbourne.) ....

Arrests of supposed ringleaders in the late burning are being made almost daily. A few manage to escape committal; but as the police are making pretty hard swearing, that [scilicet the continuance of arrests] is no difficult task. I fear that some really innocent men, from their inability to prove their non-participation in the act will be suffering before all is over. It is said that Sir Charles must have incendiaries and the police are determined to find some with whom the charge can be made to rest.

Argus 20 November 1854, 4/6-7: [EDITORIAL]:



THE DEATH of James Scobie has at length been brought home to Bentley and his accomplices. The trial took place on Saturday, and, after a searching investigation, the jury acquitted Mrs. Bentley, and returned a verdict of manslaughter against the prisoners Bentley, Farrell, and Hance. Before sentence was pronounced they each made indirect confession of their participation in the deed, so that all doubt on that score is entirely removed.

From the evidence adduced on the trial it would appear that the current version of this lamentable affair is substantially correct. Scobie and Martin had been spending the evening in merriment at a neighbor’s tent, and were returning after midnight to their own dwelling, when, on passing the Eureka Hotel, and observing it lighted, they proposed to call and have "another glass,"—that "other glass" which has so often led to the most disastrous results, and which, in this instance, cost one of the unfortunate men his life! Scobie knocked at the door and made known his object, but was told to go away. A pane of glass was broken, it does not appear by whom; but it was stated by one witness that the pane was already cracked, and it seems quite probable that it may have fallen out with the shaking of the door. It was sworn by one witness, that Scobie used improper language to Mrs. Bentley, who told him to make off. The order was complied with, and the two men proceeded homewards.

Shortly after, Bentley and his wife, along with Farrell, Hance, Duncan, and Mooney, who were all connected with the establishment, went out after the two men who had annoyed them. In passing Mrs. Walsh’s tent, Bentley snatched up a spade. Mooney, according to his own confession, threw Martin down; but he immediately got up and ran off. Scobie was now surrounded, and was charged by Mrs. Bentley with breaking her windows. This he denied. The charge was reiterated, accompanied with a blow from Farrell, which knocked him down. In this position, the unfortunate man appears to have been kicked to death by Farrell and Hance. Bentley stood beside the body with the spade in his hand; but there was no evidence that he inflicted a blow with it. On returning, one of them was heard saying, "That is the way to serve those sweeps."

The evidence of the witnesses for the Crown was very strong against the prisoners, particularly that of Mrs. Walsh and Mooney. Its tendency was to shew that the object of the attack upon the unfortunate digger was to revenge the insult offered to Mrs. Bentley, and the injury done to the premises; and that, though there was no apparent intention of murdering him, they held his life cheap, and were utterly reckless in their proceedings. The length to which they were prepared to go was evinced by having a murderous weapon with them at all; the blows inflicted were so heavy as to be heard in several tents at some distance from the spot; the fatal character of the result must have been evident to its perpetrators, when the grating of the man’s teeth suggested the idea of murder to a witness who had been aroused by the blows; and yet they returned to the hotel exulting over their atrocity, as if the life of the unfortunate digger had been of no more value than that of a dog. We say that such was the impression of the case which the evidence was calculated to produce. When asking Mooney to keep quiet on the subject, Bentley spoke as if he were fully satisfied that the authorities would be indifferent about the matter. Participating habitually in the same conviction, and carrying it with them in their pursuit of the "two drunken diggers," the prisoners had lost all sense of the sacredness of life, and never dreamt of being called to account for any consequences to which their violence might lead. Taking this view of the case, it seemed at one time during the trial as if "murder" were the only verdict which would satisfy the ends of justice.

The evidence of the medical gentleman who examined the body of the deceased was the only material qualification of this result. According to his statement, no wound had been inflicted by the spade; nor were any of the wounds apparently of a serious nature. Indeed, he seemed to treat the cause of death as a very light affair, and was disposed to think that it might have resulted from a fall, or from some trifling blow.

It does not lie within our province to criticise the professional accuracy of this gentleman’s evidence; but we feel it our duty to animadvert upon the singular manner in which it was given. He was placed in the witness-box to report upon certain facts, not to enlighten the Court with his theory of the transaction. The counsel for the prisoners improved upon Dr. Carr’s statements, and endeavored to shew that the fact of a blow being inflicted before or after a meal made the difference between murder and manslaughter,—a view of the subject which met with the unqualified reprobation of the judge. The tenor of Dr. Carr’s evidence was such as to render additional medical testimony exceedingly desirable; but, strange to say, though the surgeon who assisted Dr. Carr in his examination of the body was called, not a single question was put to him. This is an unusual course in any case, and looked singularly so in a case which hinged so completely upon the medical evidence. We do not know how to account for the neglect; for it would be gratuitous injustice to the Attorney-General to attribute it to dereliction of duty on his part. The evidence, softened down as it thus was, would not have justified a verdict of murder; for on this shewing, the blows were not of that deadly nature that evinced a murderous intent on the part of the persons who inflicted them.

On the whole, both the verdict and the sentence must be admitted to be satisfactory. Public justice has overtaken the guilty parties; and, in their conviction, the administration of the law has at length been vindicated. It now appears that the popular demonstration against Bentley was founded on truth, the charges made against the authorities at Ballaarat appear to have been equally well grounded. All this points a moral which does not require to be distinctly applied in order to be felt.

Geelong Advertiser 22 November 1854, 4/3-5.


Nov. 20th, 1854.

Yesterday evening it reached here, that Bentley, Farrel, and Hance, had been sentenced to three years each on the roads of the Colony.

That the report is correct, there is no doubt entertained, although there are sundry hard names given to Melbourne Justice for having lately arrived at a singularly strict decision, and for having in the present instance, come so far short of the deservings of the accused. While on all hands, it is a cause of rejoicing that we are now morally vindicated in the eyes of the world for our late manifestation of popular indignation, there is still a spirit of discontent at the leniency of the sentence. As we are not yet in possession of a detailed account of the trial, it may be premature to form our opinions on the matter, but rest assured that ere long we will tell openly what we think of the whole transaction. I understand that the next Public Meeting is to be held on the 22nd inst., and that this subject is to form a chief point for consideration.

The coming meeting is to end the agitation consequent on the late crying grievances; immediately after we are to enter on an agitation having for its object, removal of all our disabilities, and the obtainment of each and every of our rights.

It is certainly a heavy work under the circumstances, but still we do not despair, being fully aware that not only all the gold fields are on our side, but that the sympathies of the seaboard population are with us.

It will be our own fault, if from haste, we select men unfit to lead us in this important movement. But there is one hope always remaining to us that the absolute justness of our appeal will command respect and attention however inadequate the generalship. I do not overlook the fact that we have many good and able leaders, but it admits of doubt whether their assistance, or that of others less rightly but more impudently qualified be accepted. Owing to Bentley’s conviction, it is considered that the prisoners implicated in the burning of the Hotel are now likely to come off safe; of course, I refer to some of them in particular, who are less prepared than the others with evidence to disprove the charge of aiding and abetting in the destruction; some of them would have been acquitted in any case, unless there be a general infatuation about all Melbourne Juries.

At the next meeting it is said that the diggers are about to burn all their licences, and in future to cease taking out any such documents; I am not aware of any law which will be broken by this act of burning, although I fear that soon after, if the Government will persist in the matter, {that} the prisoners will be numbered by thousands. And yet, perhaps, and more likely, there will be no prisoners[,] owing{,} to the abandonment of the license system—at all events His Excellency should give orders to the various locan [local] authorities how to act in the emergency.

His Excellency came among us with a high name as a diplomatist, and I am sure that before his departure from us, his right to the honor will be fairly tried.

Many of the present leaders are determined to "trick and tie," with the government to any length; and there is no doubt that by a few constitutional moves, the government could be easily checkmated.

Geelong Advertiser 28 November 1854, 4/3-4:


Nov. 20th, 1851.

If coming events cast their shadows before something future may be guessed at from the fact that in the end of last week, a determination was come to on Eureka, that not only would no more licenses be taken out, but that the current ones should be committed to the flames. This was acted on, and the parties pledged either to aid each other in positive resistance if necessary, or to delivering of themselves as fellow offenders, in any case any single one should be taken prisoner. These men deliberately sallied forth, and threw themselves in the way of the police, who were license hunters. Whatever may have been the cause, not one of these men was required to produce his license, and in the evening the police after having marched up the hill and down again, and got no license wanting diggers, returned to the Camp.

Argus 29 November 1854, 4/6:


Tuesday, 28th November, 1854.

A number of military arrived here last night, by the Shandon steamer [from Melbourne], and after refreshing themselves, being reinforced by the company of the 40th stationed here, and by the mounted police, and being provided with about twenty horse-carts, started en route for Ballaarat, about twelve o’clock at night. The reason of this unusual display of armed men marching through our streets at dead of night, appears to be an apprehension of fresh disturbances at Ballaarat. The latest and most reliable intelligence from that locality points to a rapidly-extending dissatisfaction among the diggers generally to the very questionable motives that actuate a few of their leading men at these monster meetings, and to the almost certain collision, at an early period, between them and the Government. The rapidly-extending dissatisfaction has been too long existing, and its causes are too well known to require further notice just now. But it would seem that a new reason for increasing this dissatisfaction is to be brought before the monster meeting to-morrow, at which the outbreak is contemplated; and as the minds of the people are sufficiently inflamed already, this fresh and most unjust argument ought to be denounced at once. If the population of Ballaarat wish to enlist the sympathies of their brother diggers, and the colonists in general, and if they desire to have justice to themselves, they must set the example of acting justly, or at least they must shew that they can act with reason and justice. According to my information, it would appear that the deputation who waited upon Sir Charles Hotham to "demand"—as our local papers have it—the release of the three rioters, M’Intyre, Fletcher, and Westerby, are to be there to deliver their report of His Excellency’s reply to their demand. That reply being adverse to the wishes of the people who sent them, is expected to lead to some serious demonstration of popular feeling. Should this be the case, the Ballaarat people who are guilty of such an act must stand before the public as the destroyers of law and order; encouragers of crime; promoters of anarchy, and in every respect worse than the very bad Government they have had so much cause to complain of. On what grounds could Sir Charles Hotham have liberated these men, without at the same time releasing Bentley and his associates, and many other criminals? There are some reasons for believing that one of the three men was really innocent of the offence, but he was tried fairly, in a court of justice, convicted by an impartial jury, and sentenced by a judge, against whom the only ground of complaint I have yet heard in regard to the case was, that he inflicted too lenient a sentence. The general opinion was, that the rioters would be imprisoned for thre, or at least two years. The fact of the rioters being excited by the misconduct of the Government officials was no excuse for their destroying private property, and thereby injuring men who were strangers to them, and in no way connected either with Government or the crime of Bentley. But it was certainly a strong reason for not inflicting upon them the extreme punishment allowed by the law; and the very jury that tried them did not forget this claim upon their sympathy; and any one who will attempt to say that the judge who sentenced them did not act upon the recommendation of the jury, must have a very faint idea indeed of the crime of arson, and of all the horrors that would attend the general introduction of so atrocious a crime amongst us. Still, in spite of all this, there would be no harm done by the diggers fairly and temperately urging the Lieutenant-Governor to release their prisoner comrades; but to meet his refusal to such request with any further violence, and to defy the laws, must only stamp them as a set of foolish men, and must lead eventually to delaying the attainment of that great boon for which we ought all to be unanimously contending—the right to govern ourselves.

The motives that actuate some of the gentlemen who take the lead at Ballaarat are supposed by many to be very doubtful; and the ability of others to lead the people over whom they have assumed this responsibility clear of difficulties is very freely questioned. It is generally conceded that the majority of these leaders are acting to the best of their judgment for the good of the diggers, and for the future happiness of themselves and their families. But it is also hinted that there are a few wild adventurers, who have neither character nor property to lose, who miss no opportunity of pouring the oil of their ambition on to the crackling faggots lighted up by their more temperate fellows. As to the ability of some of those whose good intentions are not called in question, I am afraid they too often forget, in directing their friends to an object to be gained, to point out the dangers and obstacles that lie in the way; and it is not till they have proceeded too far to recede with credit to themselves, that they find the road they have chosen to be impracticable.

It is most sincerely to be hoped that no collision of a serious nature may occur; but to prevent this, as well as to check the evils attending one, should it take place, much will depend upon the men sent up by the Government in charge of the military and police. They must be possessed of firmness, determination, and ability, so as to be able to avert an impending danger, or clear themselves of one in which they get involved, without comprimising the character of the Government, or unnecessarily irritating the feelings of the people.

Geelong Advertiser 30 November 1854, 4/3-4:


[Monday] November 27th.

There is no lack of excitement here at present, between rumours of the arrest of our delegates in town—committals at the police office—committee meetings—more "monster nuggets"—land sales, and the like we have our hands full. There is no need of inventing a fresh outbreak here, to prove that we are still alive.

In reference to the reported outbreak, I can only say that at present we are as quiet as need be, and that if the new military force on the road had been spared the trouble of marching up here it would just have been as well—an unnecessary display of such force may tend in no inconsiderable degree to hasten on what all must deplore—a collision.

Instead of attempting to redress the grievances, or at least intimating that such a step is probable, we are to be coerced into obedience,—the step is unwise, independent of our physical force, which I do not for a moment desire to lay stress on, our moral force. The perfect justness of our demands is sufficient to ensure success with any moderately rational government. However, if there is no move made to right us, but by the bayonet, then the very crisis which all are presumed to be anxious to stave off will come, and but too soon. What can be hoped for? Every day confirms us in the opinion that the whole system of government requires revision. Mr Colonial Secretary Foster gave out from his seat in the Council, if I remember aright, that our late Police Magistrate was dismissed, or at least suspended, about the time that the Board of Investigation began its labours here. It appears from a question put subsequently to the same gentleman by Mr Fawkner, that it was after the investigation that he was dismissed; moreover, in the interim, he was signing his name as Police Magistrate to official documents. There certainly appears to be some trickery in the matter. To Mr Fawkner’s last question concerning Ballarat, it was replied that Sergeant-Major Milne also was dismissed. How stands the case? Why this very day, in the earlier stage of the proceedings at the Police Court, this worthy took his accustomed place! Such double dealing is far from the safest way to conciliate rebels, as they are pleased to term us; and if we cannot repose confidence in J.V.F. Foster as a man of truth, which he is not, nor as a member of the Executive, which he is, what are we to do? In what direction should we turn? Men say that with such a truth-denying system in power we can hope for nothing but oppression. Had we but a responsible Government, we might constitutionally alter matters; but we cannot. A few men whom accident, not merit, placed in high places, entrenched behind prerogative, the constitution, and similar shadows, tyrannise over men, many of whom are as much their superiors in intelligence as they are their inferiors in deceit, impurity, recklessness, unstatesmanlike policy, and unconstitutional Government. This country was once saved from ruin, and must be so again by the same means. This Augean stable must be cleansed, and then the young Hercules, the digger, shall have doubly earned renown, having accomplished his second labour. Heaven help him, his is no easy task.

[Tuesday] November 28th.

Some troopers have arrived this evening, and I hear that the military will arrive to-night or early to-morrow morning, in time for the monster meeting. There is about the usual amount of Joeing, as a greeting to the new arrivals, and unless an odd question as to the ordinary duties of the concentrated force when they can be as well spared now, the arrival passes over unnoticed.

To-night, the complimentary dinner to J.M. Tarleton, Esq. [the American Consul], comes off in the Victoria Hotel, on the Red Line. From the preparations made I have no doubt that the affair will be well managed. I hope, before closing to-morrow morning, to be able to forward an account. The summer weather has again returned, but as yet, it is not so oppressively hot as it was some ten days ago.

It is rumoured that some 3,000 diggers are to be present at our monster meeting from Creswick. If so, the opinions expressed will be more those of the Western Gold Fields than of Ballarat alone. A note from our deputation in town, which has just come to hand, intimates the probability of the martyrs being released, and on the ground tomorrow, by the hour of meeting. The result of the deputation to His Excellency is looked forward to with much interest.

[Wednesday] Nov. 29th 4, a.m.

Ere many minutes the sun shall have risen on a day fraught with interest, pregnant with the destiny of Victoria, and consequently of Australasia. Yesterday evening, about six o’clock, the detachment of the 40th arrived here from Melbourne, via Geelong; on nearing the diggings they left the carts which had carried them up, and marched in with fixed bayonets along the line of road. To say the least of this it was an ill advised proceedare [sic]. Their arrival was greeted with the usual amount of Joeing, but nothing else. At seven o’clock, as I was proceeding to the complimentary dinner to Mr Tarleton, I met some thirty troopers, coming, I believe, from Melbourne via Bacchus Marsh. At the time I saw them they were receiving the usual salute (Joe, Joe), but on arriving near the new road some stones were thrown at them. When they had reached the bridge near the camp, they turned and made a charge, cutting right and left among the multitude, not only on the road, but following them among the tents. A few persons who had revolvers on them fired, and eventually hunted them to the camp.

In the melee I believe several of the troopers were more or less hurt as were many diggers. Had not the troopers made off as soon as they did they would have suffered severely, as not a few of the people present had gone to fetch fire-arms, with which they soon arrived, but the troopers were gone.

I understand that one trooper has had his jaw broken, and that there are many badly hurt. More than one digger bears marks of the swords of the troopers, and several have their persons and clothes cut and pierced with sabre and bullet marks. The first shot has been fired—the first blood drawn, but the end is not yet.

About the same time a detachment of military were set on near Eureka; some of their arms wrested from them, and the baggage and ammunition conveyances intercepted. One man, a Captain Young (I believe an American), who had charge of some of the baggage, was cruelly beaten with sticks when trying to save it. He lies in a precarious state at Bath’s.

Such are the facts which I have been able to glean since I left the dinner. They may not be correct to the letter, though I know they are substantially correct.

During the dinner, just before the cloth was removed, Messrs. Reed [i.e., Resident Commissioner Rede] & Hackett [the Police Magistrate], who had come to the dinner, were called away, "owing to pressing business at the camp," and soon after Mr. Tarleton was sent for to see Young at Bath’s.

Yesterday the Government had many friends here—to-day it will have fewer. Arms are being prepared all night for to-day’s use—bullets have been cast by hundreds since last evening—quiet men have been excited, and those who were already excited are now past cure.

It is reported that there are orders from town to prevent any meeting to-day, as advertised for. If such be the case, then leave a space in your next for a narration of bloodshed and temporary anarchy. The spirit of resistance is abroad, the camp bristles with the bayonets of sentries, and the diggers are quietly but doggedly preparing for a solemn day if necessary.

I have been about all night, and find the preparation universal.

I enclose lists of land sales, &c., though for the remainder of the sale I can hardly promise that I can furnish them, owing to the overwhelming interest of other matters.

If anything extraordinary happens, you may look out for a late express—be prepared for such a contingency in your columns. The Diggers’ Committee is at present sitting permanently—night and day.

6 a.m.

The report of fire-arms is to be heard in all directions. Not even in the olden time—long, long ago—of the diggings was the sun hailed with such a salute.

Argus 30 November 1854, 5/3:


Wednesday, November 29, 1854.

To produce a little excitement a very few words only are necessary, and I can assure you that your leader heading of yesterday has caused no little consternation in many places, although we of "the Pivot" look upon it as a very diabolical hoax perpetrated upon the Government, the Public, and the Press. "Government by Artillery," "Serious Riots at Ballaarat," "Two magistrates seized as hostages by the diggers," ejaculated two gentlemen on reading the Melbourne papers yesterday afternoon, the same gentlemen having left Ballaarat that very morning. "Well, I’ll be hanged if it isn’t worth the expense of the journey to come to Geelong to hear of what is going on up where we are." On further conversation, it transpired that these gentlemen had found everything quiet and peaceable all over those portions of Ballaarat near their respective homes on the morning of the day after the news of the serious riots had reached Melbourne. There was some little exciting conversation now and then about the measures to be proposed and adopted at the great meeting of this day, but nothing really taking place that might alarm the most timid female. Judge of their surprise then on finding, within a few hours after leaving Ballaarat, a large body of military and police, with some field-pieces, on their way to quell a rebellion at Ballaarat! I certainly am inclined to think the whole affair a most disgraceful, as it may be a most injurious, hoax. If it is so, no effort should be spared to trace the author or authors. They cannot possibly be friends either of the Government or of the diggers. They must be mischief makers of the very worst character. The arrival of the armed force on the diggings on the same day that the great meeting is to take place may precipitate the very catastrophe that was so much to be dreaded. However, it is to be hoped that the digging community will see that the Government has been duped by some one, and that they will abstain from any acts of violence, seeing that misstatements have led to the re-appearance of the military among them.

Of course the troubled state of affairs at the diggings, and throughout the colony generally, is the subject of conversation in every man’s mouth, and I am quite sure that there is but one widespread opinion as to the cause of all the mischief. If you ask one man his opinion as to when matters will mend, his reply will be, "when Foster is dismissed." Ask another his opinion of the cause, he will say, "Foster and his mob." If any man insinuates that Sir Charles Hotham is to blame (and there are very few who do), he is immediately met by the remark, "it is all Foster’s doing, Hotham’s hands are tied, he cannot help himself." "Why does he not dismiss Foster?" "Why does not the Legislature interfere?" "Why do the people not demand the dismissal of the present Executive?" are questions asked five hundred times a day. The public appear still to have much hope in Sir Charles, as a man of sterling honesty and good intentions, and would willingly afford him a fair trial, and give him all their support, were not the approaches barricaded by Foster and Co.’s "patent blinding materials."

Geelong Advertiser 1 December 1854, 4/1.

The latest intelligence from Ballarat, as detailed in our correspondent’s letter, is of a pacific nature. Great excitement had prevailed, and preparations were made by the diggers to meet any turn of affairs that might present itself, but fortunately the result shows that peace and quietness reigned paramount, showing that although for a moment they had adopted a line of conduct which no true lover of his country could approve of, cool reflection has led to wiser modes of seeking the redress of grievances.

Tranquility once more prevails at Ballarat, and now is the time for the Executive to do what they could not consistently think of doing while active rebellion existed,—suspend at once from office all officials at Ballarat, against whom charges have been made. Those who have been proved to be untrustworthy, such as the coadjutors of Mr Dawes at Scobie’s inquest, should be at once dismissed, and requested not to remain at Ballarat.

It is the opinion of many that no concession whatever shall be made to the diggers while they commit acts and assume a position at variance with the true interests of society; it is urged that, yielding to their demands now would only tempt them on to further extravagancies (sic), that, having once taken power, they would not stop short at the mere redress of their present wrongs, but would straightway urge unreasonable demands. But those who argue thus do not know the Ballarat diggers. They are, as a body, hardworking, well-disposed characters—they are gentle-men in the original and true signification of the word. It is true that they were roused to indignation as any other community of gentle-men would be by the murder of one of their fraternity, and the suspicion (since proved to be well founded) that the slayers of their fellow-digger were protected by those whom they paid to preserve law, order, and justice intact in their community. It may be truly said, with regard to the burning of Bentley’s Hotel, that they rioted to preserve order; they grievously outraged the law, in order that the law might be administered with purity.

Once more Ballarat is quiet, long may it remain so; and may the government speedily take advantage of this state of things to rectify all proved abuses, such as a corrupt magistracy, under which the Ballarat diggers have hitherto groaned.

Argus 1 December 1854, 4/3-5: [EDITORIAL]:

Friday, 1st December, 1854.


In another portion of this paper will be found accounts, from different sources, of the course of events on the above gold-field during the last few days. These have been eventful days, not for that gold-field only, or for the gold-fields generally; not merely in the effect their occurrences might have on any particular line of public policy, but in their relation to our future colonial history.

The burning of the Eureka Hotel, the trial of Bentley and his fellow criminals, the conviction and sentence of the rioters, and the interview between the deputation and the Lieutenant-Governor, have constituted a chain of events of universal interest. A very large proportion of the colonists have themselves been residents on the gold-fields, and have experienced the evils of the semi-military government there administered, and the remainder have been made acquainted with the state of matters at the diggings, by those who have witnessed them. Even the least informed and most careless of the people of Victoria, have by these events been led to the conviction that the diggers have had much to bear, and that they have hitherto borne with exemplary patience, injuries and indignities to which British citizens have been rarely, if ever, before exposed. Public feeling has been all but universally with the diggers. Their wrongs have been acknowledged; their resentment sympathised in; and their resolution to obtain redress approved. The intelligence, the patriotism, the warmer sympathies of the whole people were arrayed on the side of the diggers. While the burning of the Eureka Hotel was condemned as a rash and inconsiderate action, the hope was entertained that the occurrence might give additional earnestness to the enquiry which has been instituted, and lead to real and permanent good. The Lieutenant-Governor, the Council, the people were on the side of the injured. Right was on the same side, and the doom of misgovernment was regarded as imminent.

But the miners should always bear in mind that, numerous as they may be, important as they are as our leading industrial class, they are not the sole inhabitants of this colony. There are vast numbers of colonists who are not diggers, and never intend to be. There is a public opinion exclusive of that evolved upon the gold-fields, and not very immediately influenced by the exciting speeches in which it is the fashion to address them. Now, if the diggers are sincerely anxious for reforms, it is important that they should continue to carry public opinion with them. They may be powerful as an isolated body, but they will be a great deal more powerful if they continue to enjoy the sympathy and co-operation of those not directly within the pale of their influences.

And, appealing in plain, intelligent language, to plain intelligent men, we would ask whether they think that public opinion will go with them into such deeds as those narrated in another column? A waggon upset in the dark night, the soldiery, who have never yet struck a blow or fired a shot against the diggers, beaten with their own arms, a driver brutally maltreated and a poor drummer shot through the thigh—are these deeds which will enlist the sympathies of an intelligent people? Is the maiming of a drummer-boy a worthy triumph for a large mass of a British population, who wish to occupy a creditable position in the eyes of the world? Surely not! Surely they must see that they are acting under evil advice!

Their success in obtaining a redress of their grievances depends, in a great measure, on the degree of the general conviction that they are right, — not merely in the objects they aim at, but in the means through which they seek to secure them. If the voice of the diggers "demanding" a redress of their wrongs were re-echoed by the whole people, the position of the Lieutenant-Governor would be incalculably strengthened; and so truly national a demonstration of opinion would warrant his adoption of the most decisive measures of reform. The people of Victoria will, in many respects, bear comparison with any population of the same numbers in the British Empire, and their protest against wrong, and their call for justice, will eventually be listened to with respect, wherever the English language is spoken.

The events to which we have alluded will, however, tend very much to weaken the position of the diggers. The cowardly assault made by thousands on one waggon, and the cruelties inflicted on its defenceless attendants, will be heard of with shame and indignation wherever the narrative is read. The measures adopted by the Government in sending up a military force to Ballaarat may have been right or wrong; but surely the soldiers themselves were innocent of offence against the diggers or any other class of colonists. The reported injury sustained by them brings discredit, not on those immediately concerned in the outrage only, but on the whole colony. We sincerely trust that such report will yet prove to have been exaggerated. Collisions between the people of England and the army have been exceedingly rare in modern history, and the demeanor of the soldiers has been, almost without exception, most creditable to them. While they have been, like Englishmen, true to their colors, they have been patient of the injuries and insults to which they have been subjected by highly excited multitudes.

But this event is greatly calculated to separate the diggers from the rest of the community. No one will wish to identify himself with such an action as this. It will be put forth as a plea in justification of the arbitrary rule hitherto in force at the gold-fields. The question will be asked, "does not such an assault as this constitute prima facie evidence of the necessity of such decided, and perhaps severe, measures of restraint as those complained of?" Many will think of the wounded waggoner and drummer, and forget those wrongs of the diggers, which it is yet the interest and the earnest desire of all to see redressed without delay. Men will refuse to aid a movement already stained with such uncalled-for violence; and the freemen of Europe and America will read with sorrow of such deeds.

But what we feel principally concerned in, is the fear that this may be but the first act in a very dreadful tragedy. The feelings of the soldiery cannot but be excited by the late attack upon them, and if they be unfortunately called upon to act, the collision may prove a very fatal one. We should not be doing justice to the diggers if we did not warn them, that there is already a very large section of society which is beginning to hold opinions towards them, at which they might probably be somewhat startled. By such persons it is believed that the Government having several times had to succumb to the diggers, the latter will presume upon such triumphs again and again, till an example must be made. A good deal of this feeling upon the part of the diggers has peeped out lately. It exhibited itself in the "demand" made upon the Lieutenant-Governor for the release of the participators in the Eureka affair. Now it must be evident to intelligent men that there is a point at which Government must make a stand. Opinions will differ as to where this may be, but every one must know, that unless a point be established somewhere, and maintained, Executive authority becomes a laughing-stock, and the community sinks into anarchy and confusion.

We come forward, then, with a few words of friendly advice; and solemnly warn those to whom they are addressed, that if rejected, a day or two hence they and the whole colony may have reason to regret their rejection. We wish to avert, if possible, the "example" to which we have alluded. But the deeds which we this day record cannot—must not—be repeated. The orderly and well-disposed should not only continue to abstain from encouraging such deeds, but they should use their moral force and use it energetically and perseveringly, to prevent their more excitable neighbors from resorting to them. The diggers must see and feel the soundness of the advice now tendered. They must know that no greater evil could befal [sic] the mining community than its settled alienation from the other classes of colonial society, yet such must be the certain effect of a repetition of the scenes to which we have adverted.

Argus 2 December 1854, 5/1:


The accounts from Ballaarat yesterday are rather favorable, and much more peace-like than were expected. There is [sic] still, nevertheless, strong reasons for fearing a serious riot, unless those who have the diggers’ interests really at heart exert themselves to prevent it. The appearance of the military at Ballaarat will doubtless be offensive; but surely the diggers know well enough that the military are not their own masters, that they must obey orders, and march wherever they may be sent. To insult or annoy them,then, is foolish and unjust. They cannot, like the diggers themselves, retaliate, without getting themselves into disgrace, and laying themselves open to punishment. It is reported here that a great many of the soldiers are suffering from the shameful attack made upon them on Monday night by the mob, and that one of them has died of a shot-wound received during the melee.

Argus 2 December 1854, 5/1-2:


Per Express.


Thursday [30 November], 11 p.m.—In great haste I forward you the proceedings of this morning, and considering them of the greatest importance, I send them by a special messenger.

At 10 a.m. Messrs. Commissioners Rede and Johnson, with their troop of mounted and foot police, with drawn swords and fixed bayonets, demanded from the diggers their licenses. The diggers, on their appearance, assembled in masses, many with arms, to resist the enforcement of this most obnoxious tax. Mr. Commissioner Rede attempted to reason the point with the diggers. He told them he MUST do his duty, having received instructions from the highest authority to that effect, and do it he would. He drew their attention to what their own deputation had told them yesterday, viz., that if they memorialised the Lieutenant-Governor they would get their rights, and that moreover Mr. Fawkner had been selected as one of the number to inquire into the grievances of the gold-fields. (Three cheers for Fawkner.) The cry of the diggers was "We will not have drawn swords or fixed bayonets." "Where is the Governor?" "Send up Sir Charles Hotham." "We want justice, and we WILL have it."

Upon this Mr. Commissioner Rede declared he was determined to collect the licenses. "We haven’t got them; we can’t give them." "We have burnt them." Mr. Commissioner Rede: "My lads, I must read the riot act." The cry was "Read it, read it." He read it. The scene of confusion and excitement which occurred in the new road at this moment, eye-witnesses alone can depict.

A moment of silence being obtained, Mr. Rede being evidently confused, and Mr. Johnson "sheepish," the former said, "The licenses must be shewn; we must apprehend all who have not their licenses." One great universal cry then arose, "To the Camp, boys, to the Camp!" For some distance the diggers followed towards the Camp the retrograding military force, when suddenly there was a shout of "Not to the Camp, boys, not to the Camp; back to our own ground on Bakery Hill."

During this period the detachment of the 40th and 12th had formed near the bridge.

Of the diggers, some went to the Eureka, some to the Red Hill, where they hoisted their flag—"The Southern Cross"—while the Commissioners and commanding officers were holding a consultation on the new road, evidently nonplussed as to what were the intentions of the diggers, and what they were next to do. At length the military and police formed themselves into divisions on the Bakery Hill, throwing out their "light bobs" as sharpshooters behind the heaps surrounding the holes. The position being thus taken up, Mr. Johnson asked what he was to do if, in the collecting of the licenses, and the apprehension of the unlicensed, violence were used. The answer from the officer in command of the police was, "If a man raises his hand to strike, or throws a stone, shoot him on the spot." These were the orders given to the police. An unfortunate man, riding, not being licensed, was taken prisoner to the Camp under the guard of two troopers, with orders from their officer, if he made any attempt to escape, to blow his brains out.

All this took up some time, of course, and the grand review having taken place on Bakery Hill, the Government force, for some reason which, though both an ear and eye witness, I cannot understand, retired towards the Camp, but not in peace, for hundreds of diggers had equipped themselves with revolvers and with weapons of all kinds, both offensive and defensive. Scattered shots were heard about this time, and one man having "scaled" his piece was pursued by a party of the police, who, acting under orders, fired on him amongst the tents, but luckily missed, but eventually captured him.

Throughout the whole of this eventful morning, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., there was one universal unanimous cry—"We will not pay the license. We WILL have our rights."

I may state that the whole of the Camp was barricaded with sand-bags, trusses of hay, &c., and parties of soldiers and police posted behind these defences. No-one was allowed to approach, but even in the main road were told to "move on."

At 5 p.m. we were aroused by reiterated shoutings and firing, which we discovered to proceed from the diggers’ stronghold, Bakery Hill. On going there I found a large number of diggers assembled, formed in line, giving in their names in rotation in order to become members of the Reform League. All were armed. The sailors were placed in a division by themselves. Parties were going through the manual exercise under the superintendence of an old soldier, and every one present gave strong evidence that they were unanimous and determined.

A meeting will take place at 4 a.m. to-morrow morning.

7 p.m.—An outbreak has taken place on Creswick’s Creek, and a part of the police has ben sent there from this place, the result of which I will mention in my next; but I have not one moment to spare.

You may rely upon receiving the earliest information from me. I have seen personally, or heard ALL I have sent you to-day. It is impossible to depend upon the numerous reports hourly circulated and brought down to Melbourne by interested parties.

A strong party of diggers have occupied the road to Melbourne to rescue the prisoners.

I believe seven prisoners are taken; several wounded on both sides, but no deaths. The driver of the American waggon is rallying.

Argus 2 December 1854, 5/2:


From the statement made in the Legislative Council yesterday by the Colonial Secretary, it will be seen that a collision had taken place between the rioters and the military, although happily without loss of life on either side. The state of things on the diggings has indeed become most critical, and any hour may bring us intelligence of the most serious nature. The Government is thoroughly aroused, and is concentrating the whole military and police force of the colony at Ballaarat. All the available men of the 40th and 12th regiments have left town for that locality. A body of 500 rank and file of the former regiment, with their band, were marched out yesterday afternoon under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Valliant, and the whole of the officers of the regiment. They took with them four field-pieces, two six and two twelve pounders. All the officers and men of the 12th regiment, with the exception of Captain Vereker, and the necessary guard, have left for the same place. They number about three hundred. Twenty-four men-of-war’s men and about twenty marines from H.M. ship Electra have also been sent off. Fifty horse and about the same number of foot police were to be despatched yesterday afternoon. A large number of baggage and ammunition waggons were sent with the military. We also hear that Sir Robert Nickle, Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, and Colonel Macartney, Adjutant-General, intended to start for Ballaarat at three o’clock this morning. The amount of the force, military and police, to be assembled at these diggings will be little short of a thousand men.

Argus 2 December 1854, 5/2-3:

From the Correspondent of the Geelong Advertiser.

[Thursday] Nov. 30th.

Most happily yesterday [the 29th] passed over quietly. The meeting was held, and the subjoined resolutions were passed unanimously.

About mid-day a platform was erected, and the Australian flag, and it only, hoisted to attract attention. Messrs. Black, Kennedy, and Humffray arrived by the conveyances from Geelong immediately before the hour of meeting. After their arrival some time, proceedings began. Mr. T. Hayes having been voted into the chair, the deputation to town was called on to state how matters stood there. It was stated that the hands of His Excellency are so bound that he is comparatively powerless in so far as the extension of the franchise to the diggers, the more perfect unlocking of the lands, and the release of the prisoners, when demanded by the diggers.

Strong hopes, however, are entertained by the deputation that if a memorial be presented the prisoners will be immediately released. The appointment of a liberally-constituted commission is considered to be an event of importance, as the instructions of the commission are to rectify all that is wrong, as far as there is power vested in them or Sir Charles ....


(The resolutions have already appeared.)

Right Rev. Bishop Goold, and Rev. Mr. Downing, came from Melbourne yesterday. So urgent did they consider their business that, I understand, they had travelled all the night previous. After their arrival, Rev. Mr. Downing, and the Rev. Mr. Smith tried to persuade both the committee and the meeting to give up the intended burning of the licenses, but without avail. The amendment to resolution three had scarcely a favorer. If I understand aright, this deputation came up at the instigation of the Government, which wished them to use their influence and prevent the hurrying on of the crisis which nears, now that the licenses are burned. The number of licenses already burned is pretty large; the next license hunting day is the one on which all eyes are at present centred.

During the earlier portion of the meeting, and for some time, the military under arms were posted in the gully beneath the camp, and all the other force was under arms in the camp. The Rev. Mr. Smith and Mr. Kennedy went over, at the request of the committee, and wished the military to be withdrawn from the sight of the meeting, as there was no real use for the display, and that many felt irritated at such an open parade of power.

The meeting passed off quietly; there was a large number of persons fully armed, who kept up a running fire of small arms. The meeting dispersed with only a slight accident to a horse from a pistol ball.

A large body of police was marched up yesterday evening to the Camp, on Eureka, to watch it, as the night before there had been a complete rush made on it by the diggers there, and some violence committed.

We have, I believe (for I cannot arrive at correct official information), six soldiers and police in the hospital, some badly wounded, from the effects of Monday evening and night’s row. This does not include Captain Young, who was contractor for the conveyance of supplies from town, and who was so cruelly used as to render his life in imminent danger. In addition to all this sad list, must be added one soldier of the 12th, who has died of a gun-shot wound.

Many others, both officers and men, are seriously hurt, though not in the hospital. I have heard several versions of the origin of this quarrel. By to-morrow I hope to know the real state of the matter. This morning gives promise of proving a brickfielder; the dust is flying in all directions, under the influence of a strong hot wind.

In a second edition of the Geelong Advertiser, published at eleven o’clock yesterday, a letter of later date appears. The Ballaarat correspondence of our contemporary indicates somewhat of an animus which requires his description of the aspect of events to be read with some allowance. Perhaps it is impossible for one whose feelings are enlisted in behalf of one party in such a conflict to divest himself entirely of partizanship in recording its progress; and probably, no one who is at present on Ballaarat, could avoid, to some extent, identifying himself with one party or the other:—

Ballaarat, Two o’clock, [Thursday] November 30.

’Tis only ten hours since I closed my regular correspondence, but the events which have since transpired are so extraordinary as to demand an express, which I hope will arrive in time for to-morrow’s issue.

About eleven to-day, a body of police, horse and foot, left the Camp, under the command of Mr. Commissioner Johnstone. When they had neared the Eagle Saloon, on the New Road, the people began to "Joe" them; the party so calling were surrounded and asked for their licenses. Some had them, some had not. Those who had none bolted off and ran among the Gravel Pit holes. This fact was soon communicated to the Camp. Mr. Commissioner Rede and more force soon arrived. This gentleman got among the crowd and remonstrated with them; he said that unless they separated, he would read the Riot Act, which he soon after attempted to do, but did not read through. By this time the whole force of the Camp was out on the Flat, or on the slope leading to the township; some four or five prisoners were taken and marched off, whether for resistance or want of licenses, I know not. One man who was in charge, attempted to escape, he ran among the tents on the Flat, and both police and military were ordered by an inspector of police to fire on him, which they did. This happened among tents where women and children were congregated in large numbers. I do not hear of any deaths on either side, though some are wounded. About twelve o’clock the force was withdrawn, and as I write all is again quiet. From where I am writing, I see the soldiers under arms outside the camp. The police are all under arms in the camp, and the mess-room verandah is breast-worked with bags filled with earth and sand. Work is knocked off, and the whole population is talking over the events of the morning.

The Resident Commissioner rode up to Mr. Humffray, the Secretary of the League, and some others, and said, "See now the consequences of your agitation;" to which it was replied, "No, but see the consequences of impolitic coercion." I wish that our local authorities had but a little common sense. Was it right, was it politic to go on a license-hunting raid in such terms and under such exciting circumstances? Mr. Humffray personally warned the Lieutenant-Governor in town, and I have called his attention to the necessity of being prepared to act with judgment under the circumstances.

The Express waits—I must conclude by saying that rain has come on after the morning’s hot winds.

Argus 4 December 1854, 5/3:


1 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 2nd.

Since the departure of my express of yesterday much has occurred, although little has transpired. I may say that to-day has been the day of assembly; for the "chosen people" have been under arms from daylight till dark, going through their evolutions with an earnestness and patience not to be disregarded or looked-on as the effusion of a momentary excitement. We are standing here "on the brink of a great event." What the next forty-eight hours will bring forth, I feel, will form a page in the future history of Victoria. Manual labor, commerce, even "tippling" is disregarded. The latest news borne on the wings of an express has lost its relish among the inhabitants of Ballaarat. The tranquillity of this day has been absolutely agonising. I am now writing amidst the reports and flashes of a thousand stand of arms. Every one is excited and confused. I wish the crisis were over; this suspense is fearful. You must excuse the incoherence of this report,—the events of the last three days have worn me out. An attempt was made this morning, on the part of the [Government] Camp, to swear in special constables. Had they made use of their common sense, they would not have added ridicule to the hatred already existing, and still accumulating. The pageantry of war has been shifted. Bath’s Hotel and the vicinity of the Camp were the rendezvous of the unarmed. On that side might be seen the Government officials and their staff, with the scarlet shirts and white caps of the cavalry standing out in bold relief against the more sombre hues in the background of straw trusses and old sandbags. Picture to yourself the scene, on the opposite (the Bakery) hill. There might be seen 2000 men, the bone and sinew of the colony, under arms of every description, from the Irish pike of the last century to the revolver of yesterday,—from the rifle of Manton to the cheap Birmingham fowling-piece,—from the djerid of the Arab and the cutlass of "Jack Tar" to the ploughshare and the reaping-hook. Let the intelligent minds of the colony well consider who and what have made two thousand British subjects swear allegiance on their bended knees to the flag of their own choosing, and which absorbs nationalities,—"The Southern Cross."

A report reached me this morning, that a company (300) of the German Rifles were on their road as auxiliaries to the diggers.

The Commissioners, on finding that they could get no "specials" from among the unarmed gossips around Bath’s Hotel, proceeded to disperse them, and cleared all the space between the Camp and the Gravel Pits. Such was the result of to-day’s warfare.

In the course of my wanderings, "languid and sick at heart," I thought that it would be some relaxation to try to obtain an entrance into the Camp. I applied for admittance, for the purpose of finding out the escort returns. My reception was a policeman in a blue shirt, with red pipings, bringing his musket to the "port," and denying admission to any civilian under whatever name, or whatever pretext. I told him my mission, but having learnt from history the force of the British bayonets I retreated—not with the honors of war.

Among other doings connected with this important day I must add this piece of intelligence, prefacing it with the remark that all banking and gold-buying is suspended. A party of diggers, whose authority is endorsed by the committee of the Reform League, have been making a tour of the stores demanding their firearms, giving them as an acknowledgement a draft at five days after sight on the aforesaid committee. The arms, I believe, in almost every case have been "delivered to order."

An impromptu meeting was held yesterday at Creswick’s Creek, when the following resolutions were moved and seconded unanimously.

Moved by Mr. Black, seconded by Mr. Kennedy—

1. That this meeting expresses its sympathy with the step taken by the inhabitants of Ballaarat to obtain the release of their fellow-diggers, M’Intyre, Fletcher, and Westerby, from an unjust imprisonment, as well as with the movement made yesterday against the Gold Commission, by the destruction of the diggers’ licenses; and pledges itself to co-operate with them in their efforts to place the management of the gold-fields on a just and firm basis, and to free it from the charge of dishonor and corruption.

Proposed by Mr. Nolan, seconded by Mr. Reynolds—

2. This meeting regarding the past proceedings of the Executive of this colony in their management of the gold-fields, and feeling it is also an act of great injustice for the Government to keep back their proper rights as citizens, now welcome the foundation of the "Reform League," and are prepared to support such a movement, with a view to establish their rights and liberties as a free people.

About 2000 were assembled; many licenses were destroyed,—some burnt, some torn. 150 men arrived, armed, here from the Creek. Detachments have been sent from time to time during the day, as they perfected themselves in their temporary drill. About 500, it is supposed, have arrived.

With regard to future events, which will probably be of the utmost importance, I shall spare neither time nor expense, in order that you may obtain the first information.

Argus 4 December 1854, 5/1:



Monday [4th December], 3 a.m.

At the above hour a gentleman arrived at this office who had ridden through express, leaving Ballaarat at half-past one yesterday. He brings us the following disastrous report:


At four a.m. this morning (Sunday) the troopers advanced on the right of the Warraneep Gulley, and another division on the left of the Eureka line, encompassing the camp of the diggers. A shout was raised, and after a sharp firing of about twenty minutes the troopers called to the soldiers, who were advancing, that it was all over.

The camp of the diggers was constructed of piles of slabs collected from the neighboring holes.

I enclose the official return, as known at 9 a.m. To-morrow you shall have the real truth. I do not believe that the loss of the military, to say nothing of the wounded, is considerably more than acknowledged.

Ballaarat, December 3rd, 1854.—Sir,—I have the honor to inform you that the casualties on the part of the military, are, 1 private of 12th regiment killed, two privates of 40th killed. Captain Wise, 40th, is dangerously wounded; Lieutenant Paul, 12th, seriously wounded. Several privates of 40th and 12th more or less wounded. No official return has yet been made, but the correspondent of the Argus can have it to-morrow, by applying at the Camp.

One hundred and twenty-five prisoners made, but the casualties on the part of the insurgents are not known.

I have the honor to be, Sir,
Resident Commissioner.

In the case of Captain Wise, amputation is considered necessary, he having received two wounds in the leg. This is but the beginning of the end. The reporter of the Ballaarat Times has been taken, and his life was with difficulty saved from the hands of the infuriated soldiers. A colored man, recognised by a soldier, would have been shot at the Camp had it not been for the officers. Nearly all the ringleaders are taken.

Fifteen are lying dead in the Eureka Camp. Sixteen are dangerously wounded.

A German has received five different wounds.

The Eureka Camp, as well as the stores and tents in the neighborhood, have been burnt to the ground, and considerable loss of property has ensued thereby.

A former reporter for the M. M. Herald, a Mr. Haslam, was shot in the shoulder by the troopers.

The London Hotel is the chief repository for the dead and wounded. The troopers swept the diggings, and are making several captures now at the moment of writing.

The most harrowing and heartrending scenes amongst the women and children I have witnessed through this dreadful morning. Many innocent persons have suffered, and many are prisoners who were there at the time of the skirmish, but took no active part.

10 a.m. Several waggons containing wounded and confiscated property have passed on their way to the Camp. At present every one is as if stunned, and but few are to be seen about.

The flag of the diggers, "The Southern Cross," as well as the "Union Jack," which they had to hoist underneath, were captured by the foot police.

Had the diggers fired longer the loss to the military would have been immense, and they [i.e. the diggers], as it was, acted with a precision and regularity admired even by the officers of the military.

Report says that only a small division of the diggers were attacked this morning, merely a guard of relief enough to protect the "Eureka Camp." Of the rest, some were off duty, but the majority were in the bush, and guarding the roads to Melbourne and Geelong.

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