BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Twelve)

On one occasion I chased a wild bull and fired at him repeatedly to train our horses to it. We chased this bull for two miles, constantly firing, until we killed him. It occurred to me that this was about the best practice men should be drilled to who are sent after the bushrangers; for it teaches them to ride, to fire while galloping, and to exercise caution. For a wild bull, with a couple of bullets in a fleshy part will test a rider on the side of a mountain to keep beside him. One drill of that sort would be of more service to a man than twelve months drill in Sydney, and for the horse to. Well, if two or three of us could travel about, firing our arms off occasionally, and camping about without attracting the notice of the police, how long could a man whose object was occasional plunder, remain in those ranges without being taken? As things are now Thunderbolt can remain there five years longer, perfectly secure, with police stations all round him, and he may become the father of a numerous family. I know the men who were with me will try hard to take him, but what can they do? Their horses were done up when I left, and they were ordered to remain at home till they got fresh again. They wanted ammunition, but could not get it. They had only six rounds when I left, the most of this being damaged by camping out in the wet. The Gunnedah police were put on Ward in his camp, when I left, and my old tracker who was up there was left behind for some reason or other — it would be hard to tell. So they sneaked on the camp and blazed away at Ward and his mate, but they both got away on foot. The boy took one road and Ward the other — so ended the encounter. Continue reading BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Twelve)

BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Eleven)

The fact is the natives are not required in the force. They are considered as only fit to make bushrangers, and many a promising young man has been driven to the bush by police persecutions. Do you suppose that all the young people who have taken to the bush have done so for the sake of robbing and plundering? They are usually disliked by the police and are taken on suspicion for some supposed case, acquitted, and retaken, and they are pointed at until they take the bush in disgust under the mistaken notion of recovering their self-respect. Not many are driven to this, but it is well known that two or three of the most formidable bushrangers took the bush from their self-respect being wounded by some police interference. But it is also a well known fact that many bush natives live by nothing else but rowdyism, and by horse and cattle stealing. There are black sheep in every flock, and I do not exempt my native countrymen, more especially those in the back parts of the country, where they run almost wild. Continue reading BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Eleven)

BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Ten)

Now I was drilled and equipped in the regular way and was sent out to catch Clarke. I never had any one with me at first, though I bailed him up behind a tree on one occasion, but I had to give him up on account of my revolver at first missing. I had a tracker with me but he would not come near after the first shot. He left me to the mercy of the two of them; but though I did not take them I took all sorts of care they did not take me. When my revolvers missed I was close to Clarke, and the moment my last cap missed fire he rushed at me like a tiger and called on me to surrender. I could do nothing. I dared not attempt to take him as he had a revolver in each hand and I saw the caps on the nipples plain enough. When he found I would not stand for him he made a rush to get his horse, but I knew he would have me then, so I galloped between him and ran the horses away, and while my eye was off him for a minute he disappeared — whither I could not tell; but I will own the truth — I got very frightened then, as I expected to be knocked off from behind every tree. I had only one fresh cap on, so I pushed home with his horses. If I had had a mate with me that day there would have been an end of the Clarkes. I could always find them if allowed my own way, but my superiors would have their way, and it was only once in the first twelve months we came on them in the official way, and then we made a mess of it. Continue reading BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Ten)

BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Nine)

As soon as we got them in the room Dr. Patterson examined John Clarke, and found he had been wounded on the top of the arm near the shoulder, the ball passing just above the bone. Tom Clarke was wounded in the top part of the thigh with a slug, that had to be left in. John Clarke had no other wounds except the one recently done, although it was confidently reported that he had been hit several times before. Tom Clarke was riddled through the legs. I asked him where he got all the shot marks, but he refused, saying “It’s no odds.” I asked him if I ever touched him. He looked very hard at me, and said, “No”, though I believe I did. I asked him about the shot I fired at him when John Connell was with him, when I fired at him full gallop with the rifle? He said, the bullet just grazed the top of his head, and that he felt the heat of it. I asked him a great many questions; some he would answer with truth, and others he would turn off. Anything that would implicate any of his harbourers he would deny with a look you would believe to be sincere. I don’t think there was a better dissembler in the world than Tom Clarke. He would look at you as innocent as a child, and tell you all the lies imaginable. John Clarke would say very little, and put on the face of innocence. Tommy wouldn’t allow him to say much. Continue reading BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Nine)

BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Eight)

The accounts of these murders, both oral and printed, and the description of them as given in Smith’s evidence are so various, that it would be folly for me to pretend to give the correct version. Putting the odds and ends together I came to the conclusion that a certain squatter made the plan up, that James Griffin did the telegraphing, and the Clarkes and Bill Scott the shooting part. Continue reading BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Eight)

BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Seven)

The Big Tailor gave the alarm at once to the Clarkes who were inside the store. The Clarkes came to the door as the police came up. Constable Reilly, a plucky fellow, was in front and as he rode up Tom Clarke went to him and coolly asked him who he was. Reilly told him he was a policeman. “Well” said Tom Clarke, “take that!” – as he suddenly let fly at him with his rifle. The other two police, the sergeant and the constable then came up and fired in return; Reilly fired a shot or two, and then retreated after his mates, and tried to rally them, but they did not like the smell of it, and so kept at a civil distance, thus enabling the bushrangers to mount their horses and ride away with a spare horse loaded with booty. Not only this, the bushrangers actually took time to light their pipes before riding away! Here are your regimental policemen when in action. Continue reading BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Seven)

BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Six)

Well, Carroll had everything to contend against. Officials were his enemies. He solicited information from the very friends of the outlaws. His knowledge of the Jingera country was imperfect. He was sadly deceived by those who professed the greatest confidence. He roused up suspected harbourers, and even made himself unpopular by accusing a storekeeper of sly grog selling – a thing which he should not have noticed as beyond his mission, and which he should have looked upon as hiding some piece of deception. Though he did not know it, his life was at Tommy Clarke’s disposal at almost any hour of the day or night. There was a time when he seemed to know this, and it would have been well if he had abandoned his purpose as hopeless. Police have a power of doing mischief to such an outside party as his greater than he ever calculated upon. What ignominy would have been heaped upon us if Carroll’s party had been successful! A party of police volunteers on such an expedition would be recognised, but not outsiders. I do not say that Carroll or his party could fairly attribute his untimely fate to a single member of the force. The police were entirely negative, but this quality though dangerous, was less so than Carroll’s imprudence and high handedness. He took too lofty a view of his own importance — though his mission was important enough — and would at times assume dictatorial airs before a justice of the peace who, at the bottom, might have been his best friend, though seemingly his enemy. In fact he neither knew the people nor the Braidwood district. Continue reading BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Six)

Spotlight: Britton and Thunderbolt at Gostwyck (07/11/1863)

It has been ascertained that the two men who stuck up a hut at Gostwick are the identical two who escaped from Cockatoo Island some time ago. It appears that after their affray with the police they managed to elude all further pursuit by secreting themselves in a hut belonging to one of Mr. Stitt’s shepherds while he was absent, who upon his return found one of them quietly feasting upon his supper. Continue reading Spotlight: Britton and Thunderbolt at Gostwyck (07/11/1863)

BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Five)

We were going along under the side of the hill, among some small oaks, when Hughes descried a horse hung to a tree, and asked me if I knew it. At the distance I could not tell, but it looked like Lucy’s, and if it were, the “boys” were about waiting for her. Some rode round close under the range, keeping a sharp look out. Suddenly we spotted them above us getting their dinner, Tom Connell was handing out some tea. We were all riding abreast, and I wheeled about towards them. Bruce was the first to see us and give the alarm. Tom sprang up and seized his rifle which was lying beside him, then jumped behind a large stump and took aim at me. He had been looking out a long time to get a good shot at me, for I was beginning “to know too much of them for their safety, and they thought the sooner I was stopped the better; Hughes saw him muzzle the rifle, and perceiving his intention called on me to dismount instantly and get behind a tree, but as I never cared a snuff for the lot of them together I was not going to run from these two. Continue reading BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Five)