Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer Chapter VI page 3
Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer by Sup John Sadleir
The guard on this particular trip was composed of Mr Robert Warner In command, George Duins Sergeant, Thomas Fookes Driver, Samuel Beauchamp, Davies. -----Roeswatter and John Morton Mounted Troopers The following account of what happened is taken from The Argus of July 25th, 1853 , based I presume on Mr Warner’s report.
“The Escort had in charge a cart containing 2223 ounces of gold and about ₤700 pounds in money, packed up in two boxes. The troopers were armed with a sword, carbine and pistol each, the superintendent, Mr Warner, and the Sergeant having six-barrelled revolvers in addition, the cart driver only being unarmed. They proceeded on their way until they came within three miles of the Mia Mia Inn , and seven miles from McIvor, when they noticed a log thrown across the road near one of the turnings, and an apparently deserted mia mia at one side. Considering these appearances to be nothing more than ordinary, they continued their march, little expecting what was in preparation. The Superintendent and Sergeant Duins were riding some yards in advance, and the other three close by the car. When within about six yards of the mia mia they were suddenly assaulted by a volley of seven or eight shots from it, and the horses of the two foremost riders being wounded, they plunged violently forward for several yards; and Mr Warner wheeling round as soon as he could pull up his horse, the first objects that met his view were some eight or nine men standing round the cart, and all the others stretched wounded on the ground. Seeing the odds against him he was for a moment uncertain what to do, and discharged three shots from his revolver, without taking any effect. He was then compelled for a time to be a single observer of what passed, and about half a dozen of the robbers proceeded in a very cool and business like manner to unload the cart of its treasure, the boxes containing which were removed into an adjoining dense stony scrub. The sergeant’s horse received three balls in the back, but still bravery bore his rider, and Mr. Warner at once dispatched him to a Government station three miles off for assistance. He followed the others himself into the scrub, where two or three shots were fired at him, but he escaped uninjured, and discharged the three remaining shots of his revolver, wounding as it is thought one robber. Fearing that the sergeant’s horse would sink exhausted before he arrived at the Government encampment, and his own horse being injured, he started off on the same route, arriving at the encampment in safety and returning quickly with a reinforcement of troopers and a number of diggers whom he met on the road. The latter were armed and furnished with horses, and started in pursuit of the bushrangers. On returning to the scene of the atrocity, they found all the wounded men lifted into a cart and a stranger standing by them. On being questioned the latter declared that he had been looking for cattle and on coming up and seeing what had happened, had assisted the wounded men. He further offered to lead the pursuers on the track of the bushrangers, and on his offer being accepted, attempted to decoy them off on quite a different direction from that which the former were supposed to have taken. A suspicion being created that he might be in league with the fugitives, he was submitted to a cross-questioning, and from some vagueness and contradictions in his account of himself, he was arrested and still remains in custody. The wounded men were then sent off to the McIvor, and the country all round scoured to some distance. The mia mia was searched, and in it were found a double-barrelled gun, several pannikins, one of which was indented with the letters ‘W H’ ; also two peajackets and a comforter. A short distance off in the scrub were picked up four pack-horses, supposed to belong to the robbers. While operations were being carried on, Mr Langley, with a party of troopers, arrived at the spot, and lent their assistance in the pursuit. The bushrangers are supposed to have numbered thirteen or fourteen individuals, and to have been in the mia mia during the preceding night for their work of blood and rapine. We believe Mr Warner can identify three of them; and should the wounded men recover, there can be a little doubt that they would be able to recognise more. The party were dressed, some in Guernsey shirts, others in pilot cloth peajackets, and all had woollen comforters wrapped about their heads in turban fashion. They were all armed with double-barrelled guns, the number of shots fired is not known, and they are supposed to have had a relay of horses close by. All the escort party, with the exception of the Superintendent and Sergeant were wounded, as was every horse belonging to them—one of the animals that drew the cart being killed. The three guards and the driver were seriously, but it is to be hoped not dangerously, wounded. One trooper, Roeswatter, was shot in the thigh; another trooper, Morton, received a ball in the shoulder, above the region of the lungs, and the top of his nose was taken off; another trooper, Davies, was wounded in the cheek, and the driver Fookes was shot in the knee. The man Roeswatter, who was shot in the thigh, in falling from his horse dislocated his shoulder; and during the plunder the miscreants offered no further violence than one of them kicking out of his way the driver who had tumbled back into the car. All the wounds with one exception, were inflicted with balls, the exception being that one of the men was shot with a slug. As soon as the news of the “sticking-up” became known about the country, parties of police were out in all directions, as well as a large number of diggers, amongst whom the affair has caused the utmost excitement. The diggers were at their own request sworn in as special constables, and apprehensions are entertained that if they come upon the robbers under circumstances to lead to a certainty of their guilt, the prerogative of Judge Lynch will be vindicated, without waiting for the interposition of either judge or jury. We are also informed that about 50 troopers of the 40th regiment have joined in the chase, and that four men were arrested on suspicion, but subsequently discharged. When Mr Warner left, two of the wounded men were in a very dangerous state, but hopes were entertained of their recovery. Such a premeditated and sanguinary outrage has been hitherto without record in the criminal annals of the Colony, and it is to be sincerely hoped that the blood stained wretches who could plot and perpetrate an act of such daring and magnitude will soon be in the hands of justice.'
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