Chapter 56 [The Eureka Stockade, by Raffaello Carboni, 1855]

[Editor: This is a chapter from The Eureka Stockade by Raffaello Carboni. A glossary has been provided to explain various words and phrases that may be unfamiliar to modern readers.]


Remember this Sabbath Day (December third), to keep it holy.

I awoke. Sunday morning. It was full dawn, not daylight. A discharge of musketry — then a round from the bugle — the command “forward” — and another discharge of musketry was sharply kept on by the red-coats (some 300 strong) advancing on the gully west of the stockade, for a couple of minutes.

The shots whizzed by my tent. I jumped out of the stretcher and rushed to my chimney facing the stockade. The forces within could not muster above 150 diggers.

The shepherds’ holes inside the lower part of the stockade had been turned into rifle-pits, and were now occupied by Californians of the I.C. Rangers’ Brigade, some twenty or thirty in all, who had kept watch at the “out-posts” during the night.

Ross and his division northward, Thonen and his division southward, and both in front of the gully, under cover of the slabs, answered with such a smart fire, that the military who were now fully within range, did unmistakably appear to me to swerve from their ground: anyhow the command “forward” from Sergeant Harris was put a stop to. Here a lad was really courageous with his bugle. He took up boldly his stand to the left of the gully and in front: the red-coats “fell in” in their ranks to the right of this lad. The wounded on the ground behind must have numbered a dozen.

Another scene was going on east of the stockade. Vern floundered across the stockade eastward, and I lost sight of him. Curtain whilst making coolly for the holes, appeared to me to give directions to shoot at Vern; but a rush was instantly made in the same direction (Vern’s) and a whole pack cut for Warrenheip.*

There was, however, a brave American officer, who had the command of the rifle-pit men; he fought like a tiger; was shot in his thigh at the very onset, and yet, though hopping all the while, stuck to Captain Ross like a man. Should this notice be the means to ascertain his name, it should be written down in the margin at once.

The dragoons from south, the troopers from north, were trotting in full speed towards the stockade.

Peter Lalor, was now on the top of the first logged-up hole within the stockade, and by his decided gestures pointed to the men to retire among the holes. He was shot down in his left shoulder at this identical moment: it was a chance shot, I recollect it well.

A full discharge of musketry from the military, now mowed down all who had their heads above the barricades.

Ross was shot in the groin. Another shot struck Thonen exactly in the mouth, and felled him on the spot.

Those who suffered the most were the score of pikemen, who stood their ground from the time the whole division had been posted at the top, facing the Melbourne road from Ballaarat, in double file under the slabs, to stick the cavalry with their pikes.

The old command, “Charge!” was distinctly heard, and the red-coats rushed with fixed bayonets to storm the stockade. A few cuts, kicks and pulling down, and the job was done too quickly for their wonted ardour, for they actually thrust their bayonets on the body of the dead and wounded strewed about on the ground. A wild “hurrah!” burst out, and “the Southern Cross” was torn down, I should say, among their laughter, such as if it had been a prize from a May-pole.

Of the armed diggers, some made off the best way they could, others surrendered themselves prisoners, and were collected in groups and marched down the gully. The Indian dragoons, sword in hand, rifle-pistols cocked, took charge of them all, and brought them in chains to the lock-up.


* To chop the gaseous factory of the following electrifying blather, Toorak had offered £500 reward!! Great works.

Vern’s last letter.

(From The Age, Monday, January, 15th, 1855.)

The following letter — the last written in these colonies by the now celebrated Vern — has been sent to us for publication. Our readers may rely on its authenticity.

Ship ——, Sydney Heads,
Dec. 24th, 1854.

Farewell to thee, Australia! A few moments more, and then Australia, land of my adoption, adieu! adieu!

Thy rocky shores
Fade o’er the waters blue.

The ship that bears me to exile has spread her wings; but Australia, and you my late companions in arms, I cannot leave you without bidding you (it may be my last) farewell. I part from you, perhaps for ever; but wherever fickle fortune may banish me to, your memory will help to beguile the dreary hours of exile; and I hope that a name once so familiar to you, now an outlaw from injustice and tyranny, may be kindly remembered by you.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Oh, that a kind fate had laid me low in the midst of you, and given me a final resting-place, Australia, in thy bosom. But no! Fate denied me a warrior’s death, a patriot’s grave, and decreed that I should languish in banishment. [Fate? be d——d: the immoderate length of your legs was fatal to your not getting a “warrior’s grave.”]

There was a time when I fought for freedom’s cause, under a banner made and wrought by English ladies — [Ah, ah, I thought you would soon bring in the ladies! where, please?]

Victoria! thy future is bright — [sweet and smart if Vern be the operator.] I confidently predict a Bunker’s Hill, or an Alma — [Great works!] as the issue of your next insurrection. [No more truck with your legs, though: let’s see your signature and be off.]

Farewell, Australians!
Yours, truly, and for ever,
Charles Hotham’s Footman DE LA VERN.

Hold hard, leave us the address where you got your soap last. I want to shampoo my red hair, so as to make my head worth £500. Yankee speculation I guess.

Raffaello Carboni. The Eureka Stockade: The Consequence of Some Pirates Wanting on Quarter-Deck a Rebellion, Public Library of South Australia, Adelaide, 1962 [facsimile of the 1855 edition], pages 71-73

Editor’s notes:
I.C. Rangers’ Brigade = in chapter 50 (L), Carboni notes the name of the “The Independent Californian Rangers’ Revolver Brigade”; however in chapter 55 (LV) he refers to it as the “Independent Californian Rangers’ Rifle Brigade”

Remember this Sabbath Day (December third), to keep it holy = derived from Exodus 20:8 in the Bible, “Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy”

Exodus 20:8:
Exodus 20:8 : Douay-Rheims Bible parallel: Christian Community, New Jerusalem, Clementine Latin Vulgate, Biblia Sacra Vulgatam”, Veritas Bible (accessed 12 January 2013)
Exodus 20”, New Advent (accessed 12 January 2013)
Exodus 20:8”, Online Multilingual Bible (accessed 12 January 2013)

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