Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Geelong Advertiser–The Eureka Massacre

Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer Wednesday 6 December 1854 p. 4.
[From a Correspondent.] 

To the Editor of the Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer. 

I will not tell you of the occurrences from Thursday last, further than informing you that ------ was shot at for attempting from the troopers, two carbines were discharged at him, one bullet grazed his hand, and injured his fingers, the other struck him somewhere in the body, when -------- jumped in the air, uttered a shriek and fell, scrambled up again, and disappeared amongst the tents. I see in the paper this circumstance alluded to, and it is quite correct. Friday you know all about, I will pass that over, and give you a faint outline of what passed under my own eves. 

During Saturday, there was a great deal of gloom, among the most orderly, who, complained much at the parade of soldiery, and the same cause excited a great deal of exaspiration in the minds of more enthu- siastic persons, who declared that all parties ought to show themselves, and declare whe- ther they were for, or against the diggers. 

Then came a notice from the Camp, that all lights were to be extinguished after eight o'clock, within half a mile from the Camp. At this time it was reported that there two thousand organised men at the Eureka barricade. I was sitting in my tent, and several neighbours dropped in to talk over affairs, and we sat down to tea, when a musket was heard to go off and the bullet whizzed closed by us, I douced the light, and we crept out on our hands and knees, and looked about Between the Camp and the Barricade there was a fire we had not seen before, and occsionlly lights appeared to be hoisted, like signals, which attracted the attention of a good many, some of whom said that they new other lights like return signals. It grew late, I and R------ lay down in our clothes, according to our practice for a week past, and warn out with perpetual alarms, excitement and fatigue, fall fast asleep. 

I didn't wake up till 6 o'clock on Sunday morning. The first thing that I saw was a number of diggers enclosed in a sort of hollow square, many of them were wounded, the blood dripping from them as they walked, some were walking lame, pricked on by the bayonets of the sol- diers bringing up the rear. The soldiers were much excited, and the troopers madly so, flourishing their swords and shouting out, " We have waked up Joe ! and others replied, "and sent Joe to sleep again." The diggers standard was carried by in triumph to the Camp, waved about in the air, then pitched from one to another, thrown down, and trampled on. 

The scene was awful—two and threes gathered together, and all felt stupified—I went with R-----to the barricade, the tents all around were in a blaze; I was about to go inside when a cry was raised that the troopers were coming again. They did come with carts to take away the bodies—I counted fifteen dead, one of them was C------ , a fine well educated man, and a great favorite; I recognised two others, but the spectacle was so ghastly that I felt a loathing at the remembrance. They all lay in a small space with their faces upwards, looking like lead ; several of them were still heaving, and at every rise of their breasts, the blood spouted out of their wounds, or just bubbled out and trickled away. One man, a stout chested fine fellow, apparently about forty years old lay with a pike beside him, he had three contusions in the head, three strokes across the brow, a bayonet wound in the throat under the ear, and other wounds in the body—I counted fifteen wounds in that single carcase. Some were bringing handkerchiefs, others bed furniture, and matting to cover up the faces of the dead. 

O ! God, Sir, it was a sight for a sabbath morn that I humbly implore Heaven may never be seen again.—Poor women crying for absent husbands, and children frightened into quietness. I, Sir, wright disinterestedly, but I hope my feelings rose from a true principle, and when I looked at that scene, my soul revolted at such means being so cruelly used by a Government to sustain the law. A little terrier sat on the breast of the man I spoke of and kept up a continuous howl, it was removed but always returned again to the same spot, and when his master's body was huddled with the other corpses into the cart, the little dog jumped in after him, and lying again on his dead master's breast began howling again. ------ was dead there also, and ------- , who escaped said that he was shot in the side by a trooper, when he offered his sword, as he was lying on the ground wounded, he expired directly ; another was lying dead just inside the barricade where he seemed to have crawled. Some of the bodies may have been removed I counted fifteen. 

A poor woman and her children were standing outside a tent, she said that the troopers had surrounded the tent and pierced it with their swords. She, her husband, and children were ordered out by the troopers, and were inspected in their night clothes outside, whilst the troopers searched the tent. Mr Haslam was roused from sleep by a volley of bullets fired through his tent, he rushed out, and was shot down by a trooper, and handcuffed. He lay there for two hours bleeding from a wound in his breast until his friends sent for a blacksmith who forced off the handcuffs with a hammer and cold chisel. 

When I last heard of Mr. Haslam a surgeon was attending him, and probing for the ball. R----- from Canada escaped the carnage, but is dead since from the wounds. R------ has affected his escape. V------- is reported to be amongst the wounded. One man by the road was seen yesterday trailing along, he said he could not last much longer, and his brother was shot alongside of him. All I spoke to, were of one opinion, that it was a cowardly massacre. 

There were only about a hundred and seventy diggers, and they were opposed to nearly six hundred military. I hope all is over, but fear not, for amongst many, the feeling is not of intimidation, but a cry cry for vengeance, and an opportunity to meet the soldiers with equal numbers. There is an awful list of casualties yet to come in, and when uncertainty is made certain, and relatives and friends know the worst, there will be gaps that cannot be filled up. I have little knowledge of the gold fields but I fear that the massacre at Eureka is only a skirmish. 

I bid farewell to the Gold Fields, and if what I have seen is a specimen of the government of Victoria the sooner I am out of it the better for myself and family. Sir, I am horrified at what I witnessed, and I did not see the worst of it. I could not breathe the blood tainted air of the diggings, and I have left them for ever. You may rely upon this simple statement, and submit it if you approve of it to your readers.

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