Newcastle Chronicle and Hunter River District News (NSW : 1859 – 1866), Saturday 6 May 1865, page 3
CAPTAIN THUNDERBOLT AND HIS GANG.
(From the Tamworth Examiner.)
In our last issue we gave the particulars of the robbery of the Warialda mail near Manilla by this newly-fledged gang of bushrangers, and we now furnish an account of their proceedings since that time, supplied us by our correspondent at Barraba, Narrabri, and Wee Waa.
It would seem that on the night of the day that the Warialla mail was stuck-up, Thunderbolt, alias Ward, and his companions went to a paddock on the station of the Messrs. Lloyd, at Manilla, where there were a number of horses, and took two of the best. Proceeding onwards towards Barraba, we hear that two more horses were taken belonging to the Messrs. Sinclair, they at the same time leaving there the horse they had taken from the postman when they stuck-up the Warialda mail, and one they stole from Lloyds’ station. On the morning of the following day (the 20th instant), they went to Mr. Cheesborough’s station, about twelve miles from Barraba, and stuck-up the inmates. Mr. Cheesborough was from home, but one of the women gave the gang a sound rating for their daring to come there. After making some anxious inquiries about Mr. Cheesborough, they took a horse, a gun, a revolver, and some rations, and then left, going in the direction of Mr Lethbridge’s station.
From the 20th till the 24th we heard nothing of them, but on the morning of that day it appears that they got to Mr. Munro’s inn, at Boggy Creek, when they bailed up all the inmates, and took property and cash from the house amounting in all to between £70 and £80. A portion of the property stolen consisted of rations and clothing, of which they took a good supply. They did not molest anyone, although Mr. Munro bravely challenged to ‘tackle’ each of them separately. They declined his invitation, and, after enjoying themselves for a little time, and drinking a quantity of spirits, shot a valuable dog, and left in the directon of Mr. Walford’s public-house, at Millie. On the road to this place they met Mr. Baldwin, stuck him up in the usual fashion and proceeded on their road to Walford’s place. They reached the inn between twelve and one o’clock the same day. It would seem that Mr. Walford had heard of the bushrangers being in the neighbourhood, and that he might expect them very shortly, and accordingly everything valuable and portly was concealed. On reaching the inn they bailed up those who were about the place, and obtained a small amount of cash, but nothing else worth mentioning. Here they remained for about an hour, where we will leave them in order to give an account of the movements of the police.
It would appear that on the police receiving intimation of the presence of the bushrangers at Manilla, intelligence was sent to all the police stations, and constables Dalton and Linch, of the Tamworth police, were dispatched to Barraba, via Manilla. On reaching the former place, constable Norris, of Barraba, joined them, and hearing the affair at Cheesborough’s, they started at once to that place, which they reached on the morning of the 21st instant, just a day after the bushrangers had left. They then took up the tracks and went on to Mr. Lethbridge’s station, where they obtained the services of a black tracker, and continued the search. After tracking them from that time till the 24th, they reached Millie (Mr. Walford’s public-house) about an hour after the bushrangers had arrived there.
The situation of this house is on an open plain, without a tree for miles in any direction. The bushrangers, four in number, were at the house at the time, one being outside on guard, and on the latter seeing four men galloping across the plain, a whistle was given to those inside, and all four came out to see who it might be. On learning that it was the police, they all mounted their horses, one of them holding up his revolver as a challenge to the police to come on, at the same time retreating from the house to the open plain at the rear. They had all drawn their revolvers, but the police, nothing daunted, gave chase, and came within pistol range a short distance from the house. Thunderbolt fired the first shot, to which the police replied — at the same time endeavours were made to cut off the young lad from the rest of the gang, who semed not so well mounted as the others. Firing was continued on both sides with great vigour, when a well-directed ball from the revolver of constable Dalton took effect on the young lad, entered the back and came out near the stomach. He fell from his horse, and constable Dalton shouted to constable Norris to take charge of him whilst he went after the others. On leaving with that intention, he fortunately turned round, and saw the young vagabond, while on the ground, presenting his revolver at him. He threw himself on his horses neck, and the ball passed over him. Constable Norris came up at the moment, and again fired at the ruffian, the ball taking effect, having entered the jaw and escaped at the neck. During the whole time, constable Lynch was keeping the others at bay, and succeeded in doing so, notwithstanding that Ward, who was mounted on a fine chesnut horse, several times rode between the youth and the police, constantly discharging his revolver at the same time, in order to give his mate time to escape. He was, however, unsuccessful. About forty shots were fired by the police, and their ammunition was all expended. After securing the youth, they proceeded a short distance after the others, but their horses were completely knocked up, having ridden them fully five hundred miles.
The fight is described by eye witnesses as an exceedingly plucky affair, and highly creditable to the police engaged. We hope their conduct will not be overlooked by those in authority. The encounter lasted about an hour, and the balls from the several revolvers flew about in all directions, one passing through the whiskers of one of the police, but not injuring him.
The youth who was shot was at once taken to the inn, and a doctor sent for to Moree, but he is in a very weak state, and it is doubtful if he will recover.
We hear that several volunteers, in conjunction with the Wee Waa police, have started after the other three bushrangers.
The head of the gang, who goes under the soubriquet of ‘Thunderbolt,’ is named Ward, and has been engaged in numerous robberies. He was at one time employed in breaking in horses at the Tareela station. The second is supposed to be a man named McIntosh, and is said to be a brother of McIntosh, who was mixed up with Picton in a cattle-stealing case some years ago. The bushranger who is shot is named John Thompson, a youth of about sixteen years of age, and is described as a very dangerous vagabond. He was at one time in the service of Mr. Cousins, of Terriaro, near Narrabri, and was subsequently employed on the Terrehihi station by Mr. Bowman’s superintendent. Before leaving there, about three months ago, he threatened to shoot the superintendent (Mr. Sullivan), and left the station, taking a horse. He had frequently expressed a wish to join the bushrangers. The fourth man was known by the name of ‘Bull’ or ‘Bully.’ Thompson and Ward are well acquainted with the part of the country in which they have been recently committing their depredations, and the latter with his companions will doubtless make for his old haunts at the head of some of the creeks running into the Barwon, near Walget.
At a late hour last night, we learned that the wounded lad, Thomson, was left at Millie, in charge of constables Norris and Lynch, and that constable Dalton had, with four others, supposed to be volunteers, started from Millie in pursuit of the other three men.
Since Mr. Cropper’s place was stuck up, Hall’s gang had been hovering about the stations between Forbes and Condobolin. From Mulgutherie they took a racer, known as Goldfinder, formerly belonging to the late Sir Frederick Pottinger. They afterwards called at Borambil, Mr. Suttor’s station, where they left a horse which they had taken from there.
Croy’s public house, on Old Pipeclay, Mudgee, was stuck up by a number of diggers. About £30 cash was taken, and a quantity of stock drank and destroyed. The Police Magistrate, Mr. W. R. Blackman, and Mr. T. Cudoll, J. P . accompanied by Alderman Hugson, and Messrs. G. Flood, A. Hill, and Delany, who were sworn as constables with the regular police force, proceeded to the spot and arrested three of the ringleaders. Messrs. Charlton, Broaderick, Winter, Farrar, Christian, and others were soon on the spot to render assistance as volunteers, a good proof that in case of our being visited by bushrangers we are in a position to show them a bold front.
The Ovens Constitution adds the following bit of information to the biography of Morgan:— ‘It is stated that Morgan’s father is an old man, now selling cakes with a barrow near the Hay market, in Sydney; and that his mother was a gipsy woman at Campbelltown.’
One thought on “Spotlight: Captain Thunderbolt and His Gang (06/05/1865)”
My maternal grandfather was born at Rocky River, then a gold mining settlement near Uralla in 1865 . I recently stayed there, at Top Pub, for a few days to try to find, but without success, the burial site of my great grandfather, a miner who was killed there a few years later. Thurderbolt’s grave is prominent and we’ll maintained and a large statue of him on horseback prominently graces the main street and greets the travellers coming in from the south end of town.