The Southern Cross, in digger’s gore imbrued, was torn away, and left the digger mourning.
The following Letter, from the able pen of the spirited correspondent of the Geelong Advertiser who most undoubtedly must be a digger — that is, one of ourselves, from among ourselves, — is here transcribed as a document confirming the truths of this book:—
The Eureka massacre.
[From a Correspondent.]
To the Editor of the Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer.
Bakery-hill, December 3rd, 1854.
Friday you know all about; I will pass that over, and give you a faint outline of what passed under my own eyes. During Saturday, there was a great deal of gloom among the most orderly, who complained much of the parade of soldiery, and the same cause excited a great deal of exasperation in the minds of more enthusiastic persons, who declared that all parties ought to show themselves, and declare whether 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 were 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 close by us; I doused 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 occasionally lights appeared to be hoisted, like signals, which attracted the attention of a good many, some of whom said that they saw other lights like return signals. It grew late. TO-MORROW, I FEAR ME, WILL PROVE A DAY OF SORROW, IF THE AFFAIR BE NOT SETTLED BEFORE THEN. I and R—— lay down in our clothes, according to our practice for a week past; and worn out with perpetual alarms, excitement, and fatigue, fell fast asleep. I didn’t wake up till six 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 soldiers 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 — twos and threes gathered together, and all felt stupefied. 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 G——, a fine well-educated man, and a great favourite. [Here, I think, the Correspondent alluded to me. My friends, nick-named me — Carbonari Great-works.] I recognised two others, but the spectacle was so ghastly that I feel 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, write disinterestedly, and I hope my feelings arose from a true principle; but 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 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, had said, that when he offered his sword, he was shot in the side by a trooper, as he was lying on the ground wounded. He expired almost immediately. Another was lying dead just inside the barricade, where he seemed to have crawled. Some of the bodies might 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 black-smith, 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, [Captain Ross, of Toronto, once my mate] escaped the carnage; but is dead since, from the wounds. R—— has effected his escape. [Johnny Robertson, who had a striking resemblance to me, not so much in size as in complexion and colour of the beard especially: Poor Johnny was shot down dead on the stockade; and was the identical body which Mr. Binney mistook for me. Hence the belief by many, that I was dead.] V—— is reported to be amongst the wounded [Oh! no his legs were too long even for a Minie rifle]. One man was seen yesterday trailing along the road: he said he could not last much longer, and that his brother was shot along-side of him. All whom I spoke to were of one opinion, that it was a cowardly massacre. There were only about one hundred and seventy diggers, and they were opposed to nearly six hundred military. I hope all is over; but I fear not: for amongst many, the feeling is not of intimidation, but a 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.
I am, Sir.
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 76-78
The Southern Cross, in digger’s gore imbrued, was torn away, and left the digger mourning = this is the title of chapter LX (60) of The Eureka Stockade, which was taken from the song “Victoria’s Southern Cross”, written by Raffaello Carboni, which appears in chapter LXXXII (82); the words “in digger’s gore imbrued” may be a reference to Sir Walter Scott’s poem “The Bridal of Triermain” (canto III, section XIII), which includes the line “Were oft in Scottish gore imbrued”
[Walter Scott]. The Bridal of Triermain, or The Vale of St John, James Ballantyne and Co., Edinburgh, 1813, page 147 (accessed 9 January 2013)
“The Bridal of Triermain”, Wikipedia (accessed 9 January 2013)