Spotlight: Ben Hall and his gang (26/08/1864)

Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), Friday 26 August 1864, page 7


BEN HALL AND HIS GANG.

The Burrangong Star of the 13th says :— For the last three weeks Sir Frederick Pottinger and a party, consisting of two troopers and a black tracker, have been paying particular attention to the movements of Hall’s gang, and on Sunday evening, after a hunt from the Lachlan to Cowra, and a most industrious scour of the bush between this place and Forbes, they had the good fortune to come on the bushranger’s camp, at a place in the bush, about six — seven miles from the Seventeen Mile Rush, and a short distance from Pring’s station. The bushrangers had their tent fixed, and were standing close to their horses when the troopers came up; and on seeing the latter they immediately rode off. Sir Frederick, however, managed to secure a pack-horse, and the tent, rugs, &c., belonging to the party. The Young Tribune, of same date, reports that between six and seven o’clock the following night (Monday), Mr. F. Chisholm, of the Groggan station, on the Levels, while sitting comfortably at his own fireside, heard the report of firearms outside, and immediately went to ascertain the cause. He was met by some of the men on the station, who questioned him as to whether he had fired off a pistol or not, and he replied that that was just the question he was going to put to them. At that juncture Ben Hall and his two mates an elderly man and a young one — made their appearance. They immediately cried out to Mr. Chisholm to bail up, and that gentleman at once recognising the voice, said “Is that you, Ben?” and was answered in the affirmative. He then expressed his fears that the bushrangers would tie him up, but Ben Hall remarked that there were plenty of them this time, and that there was no necessity for resorting to harsh measures. The last time, he said, that he was there he was afraid of being doublebanked, and that was the reason for his taking such a precautionary step. The highwaymen then went into the house and to the blazing fire. The elderly brigand took Mr. Chisholm on one side, and told him that the object of their visit that night was on account of Johnny Doyle, who was recognised a short time since in Murphy and Son’s store, as having on a pair of breeches which were taken by Ben Hall from Mr. Chisholm during one of his raids on that gentleman’s properly. They keenly interrogated Mr. Chisholm as to the evidence he had given in the case, and particularly alluded to one item of his statement, as it appeared in the local papers, which Mr. Chisholm designated a lie. The elderly man said he could easily understand that, for the papers had told lies about them, for which there was not an iota of foundation. In the course of conversation Hall asked Mr. Chisholm if he had no more money on the premises than 20s, and whether he had not got some grog for them. He inquired where Coronation was — a first-class racehorse Mr. Chisholm had purchased a long while back from Mr J. J. Roberts — as they wanted him. Ben Hall then asked if there was not some arsenic on the premises, and wanted to know what it was for, as there was £1000 on his (Ben Hall’s) head, and it might be for him. Mr. Chisholm remarked that it was for killing native dogs. The freebooter then said he had heard that Patsy O’Meally had joined the mounted police, and inquired from Mr. Chisholm if it were true, to which he answered that he was not aware. Mr. Chisholm then asked Hall for a revolver he had taken away from him on a previous visit. The latter said he would have been welcome to it only it had gone where he was very near going himself — in the Lachlan River. The rascals then ordered tea, and kept a man cooking for them nearly all night. They appeared ravenously hungry, as though they had been very hard pushed by the police. During tea — everything of which he compelled Mr Chisholm to taste — Hall mentioned where Troubadour and a horse belonging to Mr. Chisholm’s brother, which they took away on a former visit, could be found, stating that the former horse had been ridden to death by the police down the country, and it had given him a sore back, but he (Ben Hall) had ordered him to be given up to his owner. They then told Mr. Chisholm he had better go to bed, while they indulged in a little recreation in the shape of music, but he graciously declined the mandate. After a little while, two of them retired to sleep, while one kept watch and ward. About seven in the morning, they prepared to evacuate the place, taking with them three fresh horses belonging to Mr. Chisholm, and everything in the shape of wearing apparel, even to Mr C.’s collars. A little after seven, the Groggan Station was freed from its unwelcome visitors. The black boy on the station planted himself during the stay of the bushrangers for fear they might molest him.

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