Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Monday 9 December 1867, page 2




As Bruce’s case did not come on for trial at the May assizes, being remanded till August, I was sent back to Braidwood, where I had no sooner arrived than I was transferred back to Sydney, to stay at the depot till my three months’ notice to leave the force had expired.


Before giving a brief account of my journey northwards after Thunderbolt I should like to say a little more about the depot at Sydney. The principal part of a trooper’s duty there is to put his time in, and make as much show to the public as possible. At almost every turn you take you meet a sergeant and they all have some order. You are taught to ride perhaps by some man that could not ride a chase for fifty yards in the bush without risk to life or limb. He is paid to teach bushmen to ride, if any happen to be there, which is but seldom, for they generally become disgusted and leave. You are stuck on a military saddle with long stirrups, and your toes nearly touch the ground. You have no power over your horse. If he gives two or three bucks you go over his head. You ride round and round, jotting away. The saddle is by no means fit for country service. The flaps are very prominent, with a small knee pad more for ornament than use, and the trooper is expected to sit in it like a forked stick over a fence. The knee pad is useless. You can only just touch the knee pad if your horse bucks. Your only chance when he begins to buck is to stick your feet well over the animal’s neck and then you might be able to get your knee to the pads. So allowing the first buck to bring your knees to the pads you are then out of the seat of the saddle. The next buck will bring you on the horse’s neck, or on the pummel of the saddle, and consequently the next buck brings you on his head.

These are the sort of saddles bought for the police to use after desperate bush riders.

Pick out one of the best bush riders and place him in one of these saddles, and send him to catch a mounted robber in some mountainous country, or other rough place; if he were on a good horse and succeeded in sticking on till he got from the top of a tier to the bottom he would have done no good but would have run a risk of crippling himself for life. Now, troopers are employed chiefly to arrest country robbers and bushrangers; at least this has been their work for a long time past. And what has been the sort of men they have been sent after but desperate and clever horsemen. Do these men use straight-flapped saddles without pads to ride in ? No. They use the stock-man’s saddle with a short flap and good knee pad, and, generally, the natives of the country are admitted to be excellent riders, in hundreds of instances as good as any in the world. Why then should these men, when taken in to capture bushrangers, be sent to the depot where it is merely pretended to teach them to ride. What good does this do? Why should one hundred men at one time or other be kept at the depot?

It’s a nice life to see the new hands tumbling in in all directions, but who pays? These new hands do not like a native who happens to join the force for the good of his country because he cannot help laughing at their awkwardness. But why should a country pay thousands of pounds on this tomfoolery when the men are totally unfit for the bush services required of them? And why should so much be expended on saddles and other things which are only fit for cavalry on a level country? What good, so far, has all this expensive cavalry drill done for the country? Has it tended to facilitate the capture of bushrangers, or the suppression of crime? I say the reverse is the fact, from the impunity with which bushrobbers can keep so long uncaptured. The employing of hundreds of men who knew nothing of the bush or country, and sergeants who know as little to drill them, is a very useless expense. It is not all prejudice with me, when I ask why are not respectable natives taken on as bush troopers? No expense is required to teach them to ride. One dozen natives in the police at Braidwood would have prevented the bushranging gang from carrying all before them for more than a week or two. I declare solemnly if I had been supplied with one good bushman as mate when I first went to Braidwood, and been allowed my own way, from my knowledge of bush manners, the country, and the people, I could have taken Tommy Clarke and Tom Connell twenty times over, before they had committed any crimes of note. This is no vain boasting.


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. But take what I call the civilised and christianised natives, and they will be found among the most loyal in the colony and the most patriotic. I could muster one hundred natives in a week that would fight to the death in a good cause, and these men would be glad to join the police from which they I are improperly excluded. But enough on this head.


You may like to know a little about the trooper’s boots. Every year there is a new issue to each man. He gets one or two pairs of pants and two pairs of boots — one pair they call Wellingtons, made of bad harness leather blackened over, with a toe nearly three inches wide and so stiff that it is next to impossible to walk in them; the other pair are Napoleons, or riding boots, often made of the belly parts of the hides. One year he may get a good issue but he will get four bad ones after it. I have been told that thirty shillings a pair are paid for these boots, but I am not sure that such is the case. If so it is much too high a charge, and it is a great oversight in the authorities to countenance such proceedings.


In briefly explaining these matters I have run away from my northern trip.

When I arrived in Sydney on transfer, I applied to go after Thunderbolt. My application was accepted, and I was forthwith despatched, on the promise that I should have permission to follow out my own system. I was to have two mates — one a tracker, and a first-rate man, a half-caste, and a very clever fellow in many respects. He was with our party at Ballalaba. The other chap was a young man belonging to the Braidwood district who joined the force just before the Clarkes were arrested, and as good a rider and as steady a man as could be found — just the man for the situation. These two started to Tamworth before I did, but as they missed the coach I pulled them up on the road, so we all arrived in Tamworth together, Tamworth being the head-quarters of the district.

We were to be supplied with horses, and whatever we required for the bush; but when we got there, there was no horses for us except two, and they were young things. One had only been purchased about a week previously, and had not been ridden by the police. As the sequel will show there was a good reason for this. After I had been there a few days this horse was told off to me, and the other one to the tracker. As I had brought up a new saddle with me, expecting to have a good horse, I had to get it stuffed before using it; one evening I put my saddle on him to see what he was made of. I was going out with another man to the police paddock, to bring in the horses to be fed for the night and take some out. As I took my horse out of the stable it was plain to me that he was all there for a trick or two; and I felt convinced that if he commenced to buck he would throw me out of the saddle I had. I made this remark to the men who were there, but they assured me a child could ride him, so I mounted. I was convinced then he would buck, from my experience in riding all sorts of horses since I was a child. I told the sergeant it would be better for me to ride him in another saddle, as I could get no seat in my own, being stuffed it would not sit on the horse’s back, and was a very bad saddle in every way for this horse. The sergeant and the men laughed, and said if I could not ride that horse I could ride none in the place, as the animal never gave a buck in his life. So away I went very well till the horses we were driving went off the road, and I started to turn them back. Away I went like the renowned John Gilpin anywhere the horse took me — he had no more mouth than a colt just yarded. I stopped him at last, and got on very well till on the road home again, when he bailed me up between a fence and a mud hole. Here he commenced pig-jumping, round and round, and the saddle turned half off, and I came off, but in a soft place, being about knee deep in mud. So I mounted again, and as I got into the saddle the trooper with me gave him a clip or two with his whip. Off I went again down the street, full gallop, with the horse’s head right up in the air. I tried to pull him in but it was no use. I was standing in the stirrups sawing away at his mouth when he propped short, and at it he went, but the first buck shifted me. I could not sit in the saddle. I kept on for four or five good bucks, more by maintaining a centre of gravity than anything else, till one of the stirrup leathers slipped off. I came over his head, and in falling out cut my left hand, and thus coming on the ground with all my weight on one hand on a hard metalled road my wrist was broken, my fingers touching my arm. This arm was helpless, I felt little pain, and only discovered it to be useless when attempting to rise by it. I got a saddler to twist it the right way, but he was not skilled. He straightened it, however, and ten minutes afterwards I saw a doctor, but my arm was so much swollen that he could only then put splints on and chance it being set right. I do not think it was properly set as I feel occasional gritting still.


After I was laid up the men let it out about the horse being a buckjumper, and that they all knew it — even the sergeant who told me it was a quiet horse; because the sergeant summoned the last owner of the animal and had him fined £2 in the court-house for allowing the horse to buck up and down the street and run over some children.

Now this was cowardly, and treacherous — to play a stranger such a trick, just because I had come over there to try and take Thunderbolt. If I had been in a good saddle the horse might have bucked away, but they played to get me what is termed a “burster,” and they succeeded in what they might look upon as a justifiable deception. One would have thought they would rather have helped a stranger among them to do his duty. But Thunderbolt is still at large.

Peter, the tracker, had another “quiet” horse, but having a good saddle he put the “top rail” on, and was thrown head fore-most. We were then in a nice fix, my mate with his head bound up and I with a broken hand and wrist; but during this time two more men came over, and one of them got my buckjumper. He put a blanket and a cloak on his saddle, another military one, determined not to be thrown, but he was thrown before the week was out.


These two men went out to Barraba, and I and the tracker were to go to Narrabri. They would not allow the third man to come with me. I tried to get a pack horse to carry our rations so as not to show ourselves to the station people, as a great many of the stockkeepers would screen Ward (Thunderbolt) from us; but it was no go, we were not to have much chance of apprehending this bushranger. I only brought one revolver from Sydney, being told I should be supplied at Tamworth with all I required; so I had to put up with one revolver and a small Tranter’s revolving rifle. Being unable even to get ammunition I had to send for some to Mr. Ryland at the Sydney Depot. As soon as I could move my arm I started, first to Narrabri, and on my way I fell in with a squatter on the Mucki who assisted me a great deal. He rowed us over the river, there being no bridges, and the rivers and creeks being flooded, besides the roads being very muddy.

When we came to Cox’s Creek we had to swim our horses over and go over ourselves in a canoe, very pleasant travelling for a man with a broken arm.


We arrived at Narrabri at last where we gave the horses two days’ spell as the roads would soon knock them up. At Tamworth I was told I could get a pack horse at Narrabri, but I could get nothing, I had received some very good information to work on, but to work it properly we should have a pack horse to carry rations; for to be seen on the stations in the Killarney mountains would be to draw all the friends of Thunderbolt to watch us, a thing which I wished to avoid. My intentions were to scour all the ranges, running across from Narrabri to Bingera, north and south; and from Barraba on the east to the west end of Killarney mountains, a distance of seventy miles either way, a very rocky and scrubby country, and Thunderbolt’s haunt when on that side of the country, which was very often.

This is the locality where Thunderbolt lies to after sticking up the mail, as has been proved, but why it is not scoured and the offender hunted out of it, or captured, is very hard to say.


From the Narrabri side of the mountain there is only one place to get in the ranges, so I asked the senior-constable at Narrabri which was the least scrubby part to enter, as I meant going my own road quietly. The direction he gave me — pointing to a spur of the mountain — was the very worst part of the whole ranges. I might have expected this after the way I had been served; so with a small railway wrapper, a small damper, and a piece of beef we started, though the ground was covered with water. We could carry no blankets, partly because we could not get them. I managed to get the tracker one quietly and got into a row for it. The horses would have all they could do for they were without corn except such as was as black as your hat — half rotten. The corn had got wet, as the person in charge was too much occupied in curling his moustache, and cleaning his brush to attend to it. But though the corn on the station was spoilt, the Government is rich and cannot be bothered with these trifles.

Before starting from Narrabri, I asked if the storekeepers rode shod horses or not. He said no, and that if I saw a shod track I was to be sure it was a bushranger’s, as no one ever used shod horses out there. I asked him in which direction Barraba lay. I had a pretty good idea, having passed that place myself some years previously when going to Queensland with horses. This was seventy miles below Narrabri; but the direction the officer in charge gave me would have brought me out twenty or thirty miles wide of that place. He was either trying to run me astray or else he knew no better himself, although stationed there for some time; but it was excusable seeing he had not been very long in the country and could not be expected to know much of bush matters.



Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Thursday 28 November 1867, page 6




I was very glad the capture of the Clarkes was all over. Here were two men who could not be arrested for months, although the district was fairly swarming with police and detectives, one party running away from the other, and both sometimes running away from the bushrangers. If it had not been for myself and another in running the young chaps in Jingera to inform on them, I believe there would have been a worse gang out this day than any that we have yet seen, and that more blood would have been shed than could be dreamt of. It seemed to me as if the police authorities wanted them out, to keep up excitement. Clarke at first did not care for shooting the police, but one crime brings on another, and he had got to that pitch that he would have shot any one who came in his road. I am confident he would have had some more mates, and it would have taken years to put them down, unless the “system” had been departed from by the formation of special bush parties. Bushrangers must be fought according to their own tactics, and a bush party must expect to undergo many privations and many hardships before they can expect to succeed. If the police had continued to work the same system as before Carroll’s party, Wright’s, and other scouting parties were formed, the Clarkes would never have been taken. I consider that system bad, so far as the suppression of bushranging is concerned. I consider it a robbery to the country as the force stands now, and worse than if fifty bushrangers were out, because they rob for a living and only rob a few individuals in one locality, whereas the police system robs the state wholesale. It takes one half of the revenue to keep up a body of men that are quite out of their place. The force is established on the same footing as the Irish constabulary. The chief part of the force consists of men from the Irish or London constabulary. Most of them taken on are men just landed in the colony, mainly from the Irish police, never having touched a horse perhaps, let alone know how to manage one; and they have no idea of the bush, nor the ways of the people in this country. But they are taken on and sent to the police depot, Sydney, where they are kept three or four months at great expense to the country in teaching them to ride. I only speak about the mounted men, and personally I say nothing against any of them, horse or foot; I know many of them to be excellent men, as men in any way you take them, but they are placed in false positions when sent after bushrangers in a bush country of which they have no knowledge. As strangers, and acquainted with police duty, they do very well in towns and villages; in fact they are better for this kind of duty than the natives of the colony by far. But when it comes to country work, catching bushrangers in the mountains, it is a different thing. There may be found an exception now and then.

Well, to return to the drill. They are learnt to ride in a sort of a way, in about three months, under pay all the while; and they are learnt the use of the sword, quite a useless article, after the fashion of dragoons. The sword is quite useless at the present time for any practical police work. It serves merely to occupy the time of the men in cleaning and keeping them from idleness. Then they are learnt the rifle drill the only useful part in it, but though they are showed how to use it they are never practised in firing enough to hit the target at 200 yards. In fact there is very few of them that ever fired a shot till they were sent up in the bush to shoot robbers, and then when they come on him they blaze away anyhow, sometimes to the sky, thinking the noise will frighten if not kill. This has been well stated in those words of poetry on the late Sir Frederick Pottinger and his eight men when firing at Frank Gardiner in close quarters. This is such a bit of truthful verse, that I will repeat it.

“His warriors then, like valiant men,

With carbines blazed away,

While the whistling lead on its mission sped

But whither none could say.

For the snow white steed at gentle speed

Bore Gardiner from their view;

While Sir Frederick Pot, and all his lot,

Tried to pierce the robber through!”

Now, I don’t suppose those men ever fired a shot before, and so it is now with most of the men. They may be better now some of them by this time, but two, three, or four year ago, they were awful. Well, the first four months they are paid for nothing. But it is not only these men who have just joined. There’s the senior-sergeant with his large cheque to drill them, and he has some one to attend and wait upon him, as he attends on those above him and so on, to say nothing about the expenses for horse-flesh, fodder, saddles, shoeing, &c., to keep it up. It surprises me that the depot has not been looked to, for there are police employed as grooms to senior-sergeants. I was brought up in the bush and can ride almost any horse that could be found, but when I joined I was kept six weeks in Sydney learning to ride on a military saddle and use a rifle, but I never fired a shot out of it till I was sent to Jingera after Clarke when he broke out of gaol; but I knew how to use it, having served some time after Ben Hall’s gang as a special constable at Goulburn. It was after this they sent me to Sydney to be taken on the force. I had no idea they were going to teach me to ride but they did, and kept me there bumping about with long stirrups and fooleries till I could hardly ride at all. My theory for bush work is this :— There is not a district in any part of the colony but there are scores of young men, the sons of respectable storekeepers, graziers, and other settlers. They are men of intelligence, natives of the colony, whose time is occupied in stock riding, or other pursuits, but who are merely so occupied for want of something else to do. As an illustration, suppose one of those men was appointed the chief trooper in the district where he had been bred and born, with power to select his own half-dozen men. Can anyone suppose that a bushranger would exist in that district for a month?

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.

So you can see from the beginning of this tale, after I had estimated the capacities of my immediate superiors, I tried hard to deviate from the system and have my own way with one mate; but they would never let me. Sometimes I got out with the tracker but at first he was useless when it came to close quarters.

Well, it kept getting worse and worse up there. More men kept coming out and getting in one another’s way. Some smart fine-looking men, new arrivals in the colony came up in charge of a party, but they knew not what to do, where to go, or how to act. It was all chance work. Some-times they would run up against the boys, but they could always get away. One, now and then, would be taken, more by chance than anything else. There was no generalship except what was bad. Now, if two men were together who knew how to work, and were to go out their own way, two on one side of Jingera, and two on the other, taking it quiet, they would all have been taken at the commencement ; but no, that would not do. Many and many a time I could have played the boys into my hands, and with only one mate could have taken the lot of them, but that did not suit some. The fact is, I showed my cards before I was ready to play them, and so spoilt a chance for myself, for I never dreamt but it was intended to catch the bushrangers with as little delay as possible.

But I have run away from the point of expense I was bearing on. Well, too many men is one fault in the police, not only for expense, but they baffle one another when in the bush. If some smart young natives were taken in the force and found with good horses — men who could ride well — good bushmen, and men who could be depended on, as there are hundreds in every district who can be — then bushranging would cease. There is a fine lot of natives who are brought up respectably, and would go through fire and water to achieve anything they took in hand; for it must show itself to the reason of every man that a native — I don’t mean aboriginals — or a man who has been some time in the country, and had some experience in bush matters, will know how to go to work better than men just arrived in the country. The knowing of roads, the nature of the country, the haunts, and the people is very necessary. A clever bushman never wants you to show him the road. If he wants to make to a particular house suspected, he goes to it at once according to his own bush tactics. If a stranger he would beat about the bush, or he would call at some public-house or station and learn in the course of conversation that so-and-so’s hut is over at the Black Range, or some other place, on a certain creek or river. He will then ride away in some other direction and slew round and come out at this suspected place before any one knows anything about it and wait the time to strike a blow, and then strike the nail fair on the head. Then its done without any fuss or trouble. On the other hand put some of them policemen from Sydney on this duty and it takes them some time to find out who is the likeliest to harbour robbers or the person wanted. A bushman would tell in one night in a country house which way the wind blew. But your Sydney man newly arrived from Dublin or London must enquire the road, and if he finds it out he goes about his work in such a way that the people soon discover something’s up, and their bushranging friends soon hear that the police are coming, long before the police have found out which way to go. Then some of the friends keep an eye on the police to see when they start. All at once the imported policemen gets some one to show them the road — but while they are on the road to the house we will go inside and see what is doing. There is Tom Clarke — on supposition — courting the daughter and cutting a dash. The boy of the house, or some one, is up on the nearest ridge looking out. The signal is passed and some one runs inside saying, “Tommy, here’s the traps!” “All right,” says Tommy. “You watch them away, I’ll be at the little camp waiting for you.” So, just before the “traps” come in sight Tom comes out and mounts his nag and rides away. Up comes the imported police — a fine body of smart-made men — they are now full of importance, armed to the teeth, they search the house, turn it upside down — no one there — they grind their teeth, and then get some dinner and return to their station, watched all the while. And perhaps a startling telegraph is sent to Sydney full of nonsense. The “traps” then swear vengeance on Peter or Jack for running them on the wrong scent, by false information. By-and-bye Tommy hears, all from the “traps” swearing vengeance on the person by name — that Peter sent the traps out. Peter has to fly for his life, or Tommy will give him a touch up, and Tommy has friends who will give him a touch up too. Peter, or Jack, or Sam, after being thus suspected and, in danger say I’d like to crack a wood on Tommy and get him “nabbed” but them — new-chum traps let out everything you say. It gets to Braidwood and then over the country. I’ll never tell them anything again.”

But the bushman, if let alone, goes quietly out of the house, and soon sees the little game if any is going on, and comes down on them “on the quiet,” and so ends the affair; while on the other hand the play only begins, and begins with Tommy having a full knowledge of the sort of men pursuing him, and becomes gradually familiar with the stupid way in which they are commanded. A man must be stupid who persists in any line of tactics which invariably fail. Fifty men only, of the right sort, would stop all bushranging in this country, and save the expense of the hundreds of men in the force, and horses, who are now doing nothing. Some of them are right enough for large towns and for serving summonses, and general duty, on certain beats.

There is Thunderbolt in the northern districts, and he will reign until special scouring parties are formed, or until some good luck befalls the regular police. I have applied to go after him but was refused, because my system was not approved of; but the pursuit of Thunderbolt, as I have been after him once, may be the subject of future papers.

In the foregoing papers many things have been imperfectly sketched, and some mistakes have crept in, which I could have corrected if I had been able to remain in Sydney and revise; but my general object will be attained if what is written be the means of drawing the attention of those now in power to the present system of police which appears to my mind very unsuited for the bush work of Australia.

As this concludes nearly all I intended to say respecting the Southern district, the next letter or two will have reference to a little duty after Thunderbolt in the Northern districts.



Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Tuesday 26 November 1867, page 3




Mention was made of the arrival, as secret police, of Meare’s party, Turner’s party, and the two brothers, “the natives,” as I called them. The natives did not receive much information at our station, except from myself, and I told them all I dared without compromising my authors.

Turner’s party stopped at our station one night to spell, and as I knew them to be respectable men I asked them to sit down and have something to eat. It was all right till they left and then I got my knuckles rapped for asking them. “Who were they? They didn’t want them there.” I saw the old jealousy and swore to myself if my best friend called I would rather give him a shilling to go to the store and get some dry biscuits for his dinner. We had a mess, and all the police that came had to pay if they took better. Some of the parties who came frequently got the leavings. Wright’s party often called, but they generally missed the fat. In fact, it was most disheartening for me to be on the station, and I prayed for the time to come when I could get away. The Turners tried to get a man with them from our station, but it was no go. Then the two natives tried to get me, and that was no go.


One day the superintendent, Mr Orridge, was out, when word came that three of the boys, the two Clarkes and a third man, were seen near old Mrs. Clarke’s place. Mr. Orridge is a fair man generally, and acts promptly when he believes the information to be genuine; but he only believed this at times. Away we went in two parties on each side of the river.

Our party under Mr. Orridge was to come on them, while Ford went with Byrnes to watch the house at night. We got on their tracks in one place, but soon lost them, so we beat about till dark when we came down near Clarke’s house, and watched a short time. The superintendent asked me if I were to ride past the house, as if coming from some other direction, and take a good survey, whether they would be suspicious? I told him they would, most certainly, so we went home. As night came on, the other party got near the house when up came the boys, within thirty yards of them, so the party all fired at them from their ambush; but the boys turned their horses round and rode away before faces. That night old Mrs. Clarke came to the barracks and reported to me that her sons Thomas and John were at her house when the police came on them, but what police she did not know. This was a bit of policy on her part to save herself.


Soon after this a man was found dead near Manar, supposed to be Scott. He was found near a tree with his skull fractured. On the body was found some revolving rifle caps and this led people to believe he was a policeman or a bushranger, or someone that used such rifles. As Scott had not been seen since they stuck up Boro, on their way back from Goulburn, and his body being found on a track which the boys were known to have come by, it looked suspicious. It was afterwards proved that the body was that of Bill Scott, by the clothes he had on. It is supposed he wanted to leave the Clarkes, and they murdered him so that he should reveal nothing, or “sell them.”


As I could do no good myself I used to tell my natives — “the brothers” — all I could. They had been out in the Araluen mountains and found some of the bushrangers’ camps, and finally discovered their last camp, and followed their tracks over to the head of the gully. Then the brothers came back to our station to get some rations and letters, and to hear the news, for they had been out a fortnight scouring the mountains on foot. They told me all they had seen, and that the boys had shifted up the gully way. I knew this to be true, for my oldest and best bush friend — from the gully came to me the day before, and begged of me to come up that way and it would be right. This was the bush friend who put us on them when I was with — at Jingera, and made a mess of it. So he made it right with the boys again, and they had come back to him. He was a relative. He came to me according to his promise some time previous, when all was right. But I had to tell him it was no use depending on me, for it was all a chance, whether I could prevail on our party at Ballalaba to go out at all, or if they did, they would merely go up and back again, as a matter of form. I told him we should make a mess of it from the way our party was constituted, and that he would possibly be betrayed by their blundering, and murdered. He asked me to leave Ballalaba and join Wright’s party, and then he would put me on them. I told him I could not possibly get shifted. If the superintendent had been out there at the time I would then have told him all about it, and he would have acted, perhaps If the superintendent was out, we had to work out any information we received; but when he was away, and he only seldom came to our station, sergeant — would only work to suit himself. If I had left my station and gone up to the other party, I should have been dismissed for leaving my post. So I told my friend how matters stood, and that if I was not up on a certain day to give all the information he could to Egan, who was my old mate at Jingera and Foxlow, and was now in Wright’s party. He promised he would see Egan, but before leaving me begged and prayed of me to come out at the sacrifice almost of my situation. This chap did not like sergeant B. and would give him no information whatever, but I happened to make friends with him, and he came to me as he knew the capture of the Clarkes would give us both a good start. We had talked it over between ourselves often. He was afraid of betrayal by trusting others, for they were very incautious.

Well, I told B. that I wanted to go up the gully to work a little game. He wanted to know my author, but I refused to betray him, because I knew if I mentioned his name in the barracks, the Clarkes would have it soon afterwards, and my friend would share the fate of the big Taylor. I told him it was a man I could depend upon, and that I knew it was right. Although I spoke the truth I well knew it was the very thing to stop me from getting there – and so it did. B. said the horses were too tired to go out, and he would spell them till he got some good information. I could see it was decided against me, and I walked out of the barracks sick at heart. After all my labours – after waiting patiently for that one attack, for that best of all chances when it was known they were in —’s hut, sleeping out at nights, and to be out of it when the information came, was to me a most grievous disappointment. The only comfort I had was to learn that my friend had gone to Egan, and thus Wright’s party acted with promptitude while ours treated the matter with indifference. I told my native friends to make up the gully towards —’s and they would have a chance. They promised to start next day, but it came on to rain in torrents and they did not go, so they missed a chance. The dirtier the weather the better in these cases.


Our party were all at work next morning, not in the gully or anywhere else after bushrangers, but at home. I and another were paving the doorway with brick-bats, to be able to get in the mess-room, which was almost up to our knees in mud, when in came Walsh, one of Wright’s men, full tilt with news. Word was given to saddle up, to arm ourselves, and away we went full tear. We heard something about the tracker being wounded, and something about a hut and I could pretty well guess where it was. It was no time to ask questions the way we were racing. There were twenty-four miles before us, and the pace we were going convinced me the horses would not stand it, so I slackened and followed their trail, being jockey enough to know how to ride my horse. I soon pulled them up with their horses fairly bursted, and some of them were splendid horses or they would not have stood what they did. I was then going ahead but was called back to lead them the road, for B. had galloped along till he came to the scrubby ranges. I had then no occasion to push ahead to keep pace with them for I could not get them out of a walk, except Ford, who was mad to get up to the place. He told me Wright’s party had the two Clarkes bailed up and would try to keep them in the hut till we arrived. B. said it was no use pushing on too much as they would sure to be away before we got there, and I believe someone would have been very glad if they had got away. Walsh had gone on his own way. As soon as I found out how things were I pushed on as fast as I judged my horse could keep it up. Our men began to fall behind fast. Eleven of us started from the station. When we were within four miles of the hut, I and one of the trackers took our own road and lost sight of our chaps; so we pulled in and turned after them, and it is a lucky thing we did, as they were making right away from the place. We kept together then, that is all who could keep up, for it was a race for life, seeing that the least delay might be fatal to Wright’s party.

We came straight as a line to Guinea’s hut. We were in sight of the other hut, but could not see a soul moving about. We asked the Guineas if the Clarkes were in the hut and they told us they were. So we galloped across the flat and into the river head first. We all had to swim it. There was no time to look for crossing places. As we were galloping towards the hut, Wright’s party saw us and waved their hats madly. We placed our horses in the stock-yard and stripped off our boots which were full of water. I and Brown went close up to the hut to guard it, while Byrnes and Wright were forming some plan of storming it. I saw Tom Clarke at the window twice, looking at me, but as he did not fire, I did not, and Byrnes had told us not to begin firing until we had challenged them to surrender; and we were not to call upon them till he had spoken to Wright, and to look out for the other chaps that were coming and let them know, for when we were within two miles of the place there were only five of us left out of the eleven. Even Walsh, who had got a fresh horse on the road – we five were up a long time before him. It took us one hour and fifty minutes to get our horses, arm ourselves and ride these twenty-four miles over rough country, swim two rivers, taking the bush all the way, and coming out fair on the hut.

I passed the word behind as soon as saw the others coming up. I was waiting for our chaps to get in position before calling upon the Clarkes to surrender. As soon as Walsh got up, and planted behind the fence, he called out to them to surrender, when Tommy Clarke walked out of the hut followed by his brother John, both with their arms out, except the wounded arm of Johnny. I passed the word and I and Brown walked down towards the boy so that they should not make a bolt for it but they fairly gave in.


I could not bring myself to shake hands with Tom Clarke then, though all the rest of the troopers did. Tommy asked some of the chaps if I was there, and they pointed me out. He eyed me for a minute and said, “I did not think we should have met this way. I always fought you fair, so don’t keep anything in.” I replied it was better that way than if he had been shot. He said, “You were just in time or I should have been off and then there would have been a different tale to tell.” He owned to shooting the tracker, and when asked by Byrnes who carried Carroll’s revolving rifle, he replied that he did, and he said he took the other rifle from the police at Araluen, and the revolvers he took from a policeman at Collector. He said Bill Scott had left him and was gone on his own hook. Tommy seemed ready to answer any question put to him, but you couldn’t believe a word he said, for he tried to take all on himself to screen his brother.

We had started and got about a mile back on the road when we met Sub-inspector Stevenson’s party coming up from Major’s Creek, so they would have stood a poor chance fighting the lot of us in a place like that. We all came on together to the Crowarry police-station, when I and another pushed on to meet Mr. Orridge and the doctor. When seven miles off Ballalaba we met them, and turned back; went to Mick Connell’s public house, and waited there till the escort came up. What with the different parties of police all meeting we formed a fine squadron. We got a room ready at Mick’s to guard the prisoners in during the night, for it was too late and dark for us to reach our own station.


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.

As soon as morning came, the sub-inspector took charge of the prisoners, the superintendent having gone to Braidwood overnight, to report the matter by telegram to Sydney. I and Ford, and some others, went back to Crowarry, there to stop till Wright’s party returned from Braidwood. As we all got ready to start, the sight was sickening to see two brothers in such a position. At first I could not shake off the revenge I felt for them, but it becomes every man to forgive as he hopes to be forgiven himself, and as we were going to part, I walked up and bid them good-bye. Tommy gave me a curious look. I don’t think I ever felt so sick of anything in my life as I did then, to see two fine-looking young men, with all hope of life gone, and all through their being led astray; for no one could believe for a moment that they would ever have led the life they did if they had not been schooled up to it. I believe old Mick Connell and his brothers ran them on a good deal.

[To be continued.]


Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Tuesday 19 November 1867, page 6




From the few circumstances just related you will form a good idea of Carroll’s position and danger, and no doubt conclude that, as so many persons were coming in dangerous contact with the gaol, it was no difficult matter for a few lawless men to decide upon waylaying those who were hunting them to justice. Carroll’s effigy had just been burnt in Braidwood, and among the mob looking on were a senior-constable and a constable.


The intelligence of the murders puzzled me. We heard Carroll had gone out to Jingera the afternoon previous. We knew that a certain squatter had been seen talking with him in a public-house in Braidwood for a long time, and one or two of us concluded that Carroll was enticed out; and at this period, when, the whole circumstances have been so fully placed before the public, nothing has altered the opinion previously formed that Carroll was enticed out by false representations. Carroll and his party went straight to the place at Jinden near which they were murdered. They were expected, for that vigilant telegraph, James Griffin, who had been on the look-out, saw them approaching, went to apprise those who were in the plot, and then vanished unseen. Griffin was a particular friend of this squatter and had borrowed his rifle.

It is unnecessary here to repeat in detail the particulars of the murders. Carroll was evidently told he would find the Clarkes at Guineas’, a few miles from Jinden, and advised to approach on foot the next day, as they would be seen from a long distance approaching if they went on horseback. There were two tracks, or bush roads, leading from Jinden house to Guineas’. At some distance on the right of the upper track, leading to Guineas’, and about midway between the two places, there is a ridge of land, and it is tolerably bushy. The land slopes slightly from this ridge to a considerable distance on the left of the track, the ground being tolerably clear, with a moderately-sized tree here and there. Close to the upper track, and about midway, there are three large trees, two being nearly together.

Carroll remained at Jinden house all night, and early next morning started for Guineas’. They had no sooner departed than James Griffin stepped in, and treated Smith to a drop of gin out of the bottle which he had obtained from Mick Connell. What passed between Griffin and Smith at this brief interview may never be known. When satisfied that Carroll and his party had started to Guineas’ there was some proof, so far, that no treachery existed among the conspirators. But the Clarkes wanted further security. They must know that Carroll and party actually went to Guineas’, where, being disappointed, they would return sullenly, and be to a certain extent off their guard. When the “telegraph” saw things working right, the murderers were ready at a moment’s warning. Carroll’s party went to Guineas’, and, of course, were disappointed; so they remained for an hour or two and had dinner. In the afternoon they left to return to Jinden. When half way, they were suddenly fired upon by the two Clarkes and Bill Scott, who had remained concealed behind the three trees just spoken of. Phegan and McDonald fell dead. Carroll and Kennagh fled down the sloping ground with a view to get shelter behind one of the big trees, but they were pursued by Bill Scott and Tom Clarke, the latter singing out for the horses which Griffin held under the ridge above alluded to. They were speedily overtaken and deliberately shot dead when on their knees making ineffectual appeals for mercy.

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.

What share Mick Connell had in it I cannot say. The above opinion was expressed by me at the time of the murders, but there were officials who could not see it. One of the parties implicated had an official friend in Sydney, and the police, somehow, still had high notions of Mick Connell. The worst of the matter was, that some of the local newspapers hinted pretty strongly that the police had a hand in it.


In eight days I resumed duty, very much weakened by mustard poultices and medicine. As there was an escort going to Queanbeyan I went with it and met my mates about half way out. As the escort passes within five miles of Foxlow we generally come out on the road, on escort days, to hear the news; so as my mates came for news as usual, we met before I got to the station. We soon heard of the boys again. They were on our side. They told a certain friend of ours the next move would be Foxlow, and they would give Mr. Vallance, the superintendent of Mr. Hoskins’ station, and myself a pill each. This information made our senior man stop at home, Although the gang was only nine miles from us. This went on for three weeks. We never left our station. The murder of Carroll and party had frightened many of our chaps. We knew positively that the Clarkes and Bill Scott were camped within a short distance from our station, and it was clearly our duty to go out and capture them if we could, or go through the usual ceremony of firing and being fired at, and making the usual official report of a conflict.

One day we were lying about in the barracks when a man from the farm came, and gave me the wink to follow him outside when he told me he had just seen the three boys in the paddock. It was a wet day and he said they had blankets over them. They rode close past our friend as if they had not seen him. When he came near the barracks, he said he turned to look behind and saw the boys rounding up some horses in the paddock. This paddock was only 900 yards from the police barracks. Our horses were close at hand so we put them in the yard at once and reported to our senior man the refreshing news. “All right,” said he, “let’s feed the horses.” We fed them. He then told the two men, one a senior constable, who had arrived, to stop for the night. After consultation they decided on stopping inside to guard the store. Their own sense might have told them that Tom Clarke would not venture until he knew the police were all out. But we guarded the store all night, as we had done for a long time, but no Clarke came to amuse us. The next morning we mustered our spare horses and found they had taken one of ours and also one belonging to the station (Mr. Hoskins’.) This little trick could have been prevented, if we had jumped on our horses at first and charged the boys when we were told that they were in the paddock 900 yards off, rounding up horses. If we had not captured them we could have done no harm in trying. If we missed them the two men at home had a deadly chance of shooting them. Because, if the boys were only trying to draw us out and to double back to the station the two police who had come for the night could have remained and been prepared, while we who belonged to the station could have mustered the men on the farm, and supplied them with firearms belonging to Mr. Hoskins and lain in wait for them. But instead of considering any plan we let them take our horses and ride away with them before our face. We stayed at home just the same, quite indifferent, courting the girls all day long, except at mealtimes. Laziness and feeding appeared to be the order of the day at our station. To say the truth, I was becoming very uneasy, for though we were at home guarding the Foxlow station, the Clarkes could have stuck us up at any time almost for we were scattered – one in a hut courting, another in the next hut playing cards, another in the barracks cooking, or getting wood and water, with no one specially to look out. And, moreover, many men kept walking about the farm, watching and listening, that one scarcely knew friend from foe. At last we had a civil growl among ourselves, and it would be hard to say what would have been the end of it if we had not been shifted. New arrivals came, so Egan and I were sent to Ballalaba, two fresh men remaining at Foxlow with H.


Although the employing private individuals as secret detectives in pursuit of bushrangers had terminated so disastrously, yet the scheme of sending men in scouring parties was worthy of approval, especially where those men belonged to the regular force. And in proportion as these parties separated themselves from the formal routine of duty to which they had been addicted under the present police system, so would be the measure of their success, the more so if such parties were under good leaders who were allowed the exercise of their own judgments. If the formation of Carroll’s party did no other good, it forced upon the country the necessity of giving up the regimental sham, and using the police in a manner more in accordance with the requirements of bush life. The present police system requires that every policeman shall do his duty. This notion of duty is something akin to the old soldier’s mechanical, without reflection, two hours on and four off — punctually at his post, punctually relieved, punctually in bed, and punctually at his meals. And when on parade it is “heads up,” and “eyes front” with him — buttons shining, boots and pouchbox well polished. Some police will part their hair straight in the centre, like many government clerks, oil and scent it, clean their finger nails and start off, in a gentlemanly sort of way after bushrangers but they’ll take care not to rough it much when out as a matter of form among safe ranges.

Well, there seemed now to be a chance. Egan and myself were sent to Ballalaba, and two fresh men were sent in our place to Foxlow. Two bush parties were formed one under Wright, the other under sub-inspector Brennan. It was my misfortune to be with Ford at Ballalaba, while my mate luckily got with Wright. Ford was acting under Byrnes’ instructions. Brennan’s party was at Crowarry, but unfortunately he was called as a witness to Yass and did not return, I told Brennan how things were going on. He said he could see, and when he came back he would put matters to the right about, and for me to say nothing. Captain Battye with his men, who bad been out all day, called one night and asked the man in charge to get them something to eat but he refused; so the captain reported him but got no satisfaction. I mentioned to Captain Battye that I could get the best of information about the boys, and that with two reliable mates I could do good. He reported and recommended this to the superintendent who came out and asked what information I had. I told him the boys had gone to Goulburn, but but he did not think so, and told me I would be placed in Ford’s party. We went out every day but saw nothing. In a few days we heard the mail had been stuck up near Goulburn.


One day, being in the gully, we called at a certain place. My bush friend told me the two Clarkes were back, but that Bill Scott was not with them. This was on a Saturday. The Clarkes would be at a certain place on Sunday or Monday night for certain. We decided to watch the place both nights. The first evening, about an hour before sundown, we saw smoke rising about three miles at the back of the house, in a dark scrubby mountain. We started, thinking to catch them in the camp. One sergeant refused to go. We found the embers of the fire, and followed tracks till dark, when we returned to the house where a supper was ready. We had supper, one standing guard. We were informed positively the boys would be there before morning, but we went to our barracks. Instead of going out the next night we remained at home and had the mortification of afterwards hearing that Tommy Clarke had called at the place as we were told; that he had his supper quietly; remained about the house all night, and that Wright’s party passed within two hundred yards of both Tommy Clarke and his brother. My information was from a safe source and I knew it if I had power to act, but I was under an incredulous leader, who was not over-fond of bush work, and who would act more from B’s instructions, rather than in a manner which was demanded by the necessities of the case. We once on a wet day, got safely on their tracks, knew where they were going, but instead of lying by, we actually pushed on to the house and had supper. F. asked if it was any use stopping all night? I told him no, flatly; because, the boys would soon be told by the inmates or the children, who were expert “telegraphs,” that we were about. We rode fifty miles that day and spoilt a good chance after all. This game continued day after day. A more unskilful and self-willed leader it was never before my misfortune to be under. Where a party of four or five join for a common purpose, it is obviously for each one’s interest that matters should be well considered. If one of the party had a private and reliable source of information the others should take counsel among themselves and test it. But from the “system” the man in charge is presumed to know, at least he always assumes to know more than those under him.

If I wanted to go one way F. would go another just as B. told him, and home again. This continued, and was repeated so many times that it would be wearisome to relate them. The day we followed the tracks of the boys for fifty miles in the Araluen mountain, it came on to rain hard and we rode home. In speaking to F. about his conduct before the sergeant and all hands at supper, he said the boys were not in that direction. I asked him what he meant after following their tracks all day. He said they were tracks of stockmen, looking for cattle, and persisted in this and swore they were not out in that direction, but he had only just come to the district and knew little of the Clarkes’ way of travelling. The half-caste tracker who was with us, a man who had been born in the Jingera country, and who knew the way of the people better than any of us, swore it was them. But when a senior-constable contradicts a man to his teeth, against the most palpable evidence, what can a trooper do? We had a row on the subject and I wrote out my resignation, with an explanation why I was leaving the police, in the hope of bringing about an inquiry. But the superintendent said it was a curious resignation and that he did not believe what I said in it, but he would forward it on. There were some who were very glad that I was resigning out of their road.


Now the boys were at Bell’s Creek that morning and made across the mountains to the very house we had dinner in, and they remained in the house that night. Tommy Clarke owned to this after he surrendered.

Soon after this information came to our station that the boys were seen camping out in the Araluen ranges. We went out with a special constable with us. We made a complete circle, and crossed our track when we discovered fresh tracks following our own. We concluded these to be the boys tracks and followed them to near the place where the Araluen police had agreed to meet our party from Ballalaba. The other party after getting their dinner on the hill parted and went home before we reached there the second time. We returned to the tracks and found them also going to the meeting place. Now it seems the Clarkes had followed our trail up to see who we were, and saw the other chaps getting their dinner, watched them away, and went over to their camp and had a smoke; so that when we came up to the fire the Clarkes had only just gone. We followed their tracks for a short distance when F. said it was not them and would go home. The special constable tried to persuade him, but it was useless. I said nothing, knowing it was useless to try to convince him, so we pushed for home. Was this doing duty fairly? Tommy Clarke told us afterwards that we passed close to him after we had got about a mile from the meeting place, so that if we had followed up the trail we should have come on them, as they believed they were safe after seeing the other party go homewards; and seeing us making for home they never dreamt we should have come back to our old tracks. So here was another chance lost, and F. ready to swear we were only humbugging him as he could not see fresh tracks. The man could hardly tell a horse track from a bullock’s.


About this time there was a call made on us to go over the range, as a woman out there had lost her child the evening before and could not find him. So out we went about twelve miles away, and beat about looking for the child till night, but could see nor hear anything of the lad. It was just dark when we got back to the house, and found a whole squad of horsemen who were looking for the boy. We noticed two or three of the Clarke’s “telegraphs,” and suspected there was something up. At first we thought it was a draw, to stick up our station, or some place about; but we went inside, and between tears and groans the woman asked me if I carried a revolving rifle, and who else did; and then she wanted us to put the horses in the paddock and stop till morning; then she wanted us to try a nobbler — a drop of real good stuff — but we saw through it all, though we pretended not. We told her we were going to have another turn round, and then we could come and stop for the night. As soon as a chance offered I told F. there was a plan concocting to shoot me and the only chance we had was to give them all the slip till daylight, and then come back and see if the child was at home. As soon as we started to go away, they wanted to know where we were going to camp, and they would go with us right or wrong; but we told them we were going down the side of the range, and would meet them down on the creek at the old hut.

They did not seem to believe it, but when we told them we should be sure to be there they appeared satisfied. There was a farmer there that put in a word for me, and so we parted. This farmer told me privately he knew there was something up, and to look out sharp, for the old woman was up to some mischief. The questions she put about the rifles made me think we were about to be stuck up in earnest. She would have poisoned me if I had drank anything. Those with me knew little of the bush dodges, and as to F. he foolishly believed all she had said and would have stopped in the house for the night with all the mob around us. But F. agreed to take my advice for once, and it was a lucky thing he did, or the world would not have troubled him long; but it was me the Clarkes specially wanted, and I knew I had only myself to depend upon, to keep my wits clear, and my arms always ready.

So we started away in the direction we told them we should go until out of hearing, and then turned silently over the range, and up the other way, and came round to the next house and had some supper. Then we made another double; and at last camped in the creek, about two miles from the aforesaid house of corruption. We tied our horses to trees in the creek, and laid down till morning, without a fire, and then made down to the old woman’s house again, when lo and behold, there was the child, said to have been found at daylight that morning about four miles away. The child it was said had been out two days and nights with-out anything to eat, but still was as fresh as a daisy. It was all a sham. When they found we had given them the slip they brought the child home. He was over at the next house all the while; so we got some breakfast and went home; but you may depend upon it if I could have got a chance at the coves about there I would have touched them up a bit. Some of them joined us going home; and one chap told me confidentially not to trust the woman, and to keep an eye about the place as the “boys” were there sometimes, and also at the back of his place where they kept some horses. He said he would get me one of the horses in the yard, along with some of his own, and he would let me know, so that I could take the horse on suspicion, without throwing any down on him and he would do more for me. So he sent word to the station, but the sergeant said he didn’t believe in any flash natives, nor would he work with them. The chap let the horse out again and shortly after Clarke came and took it.

I know this person meant working honestly. In fact he told me one of his brothers was very thick with the boys, and was afraid he would get into some trouble, so the sooner the Clarkes were taken the better. By working quietly with him he would put us on them. The two brothers came to the station one day to give us information, and I was positively ordered to send them away.

Now the country was crying out about us not doing our duty, and the people not giving information to the police. It was no use giving us any information for we took no notice of it if they did. If I had had two mates at this time, and my own way of working I could have taken the two Clarkes simply enough, but that would not suit others. It was no odds. Our pay was going on, and what matter to us if it cost the Government ten thousand pounds a month. Our wise senior men were hoping some more smart men would join the gang and keep the play up.

Such was the state of things when a lot of secret police came out — Meares’ party, and Turner’s party, and two brothers whom I will call the natives — two as smart men as any in the country for that sort of work.

P.S. I regret to trouble you with a slight correction in paper VII. Some part of my letter appears to have been omitted. It was John Carroll, who is now alive, and a warder in Darlinghurst gaol, who was with Flynn’s party. The deceased Carroll, at the time of which I was speaking, was also a warder belonging to Darlinghurst gaol, but detached to Parramatta gaol where he was employed for a while as acting gaoler. Again, it was not McDonald but Phegan who wrote the petition for the Clarkes, and who perpetrated the disguise. Phegan was a native of Tasmania. His father, I believe, was a soldier in H.M. 12th Regiment. Phegan served his apprenticeship as a compositor on the Hobartown Advertiser, was well informed, a good violinist, and was at one time connected with a Sydney newspaper called the People’s Advocate. He got into some scrape at Narrigah, otherwise he was a respectable man of reputable parents.

McDonald was also a man of excellent character. He had been in the army for many years and left with high testimonials. He had been a police trooper in the district in which he was murdered, and had been a warder in two different gaols where his ser-vices were muoh appreciated.


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Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Thursday 14 November 1867, page 6




We went back to our station after Alick’s conviction, and had a couple of days spell, for we had been out constantly night and day, wet, cold, or dry, and were getting knocked up. I had been out from the time Tommy Clarke began, and to be always wearing two revolvers, with a lot of ammunition round one’s waist, was making me weak; Most of the other chaps were new comers.


About this time the Ballalaba police came upon the Clarkes in the gully. The boys were off their horses, at a little distance but when they heard the police they ran to their horses and galloped away, whíle the Ballalaba police, being close on, blazed away, at them. So the boys turned round and fought for it. They were pretty close to each other. Tommy Clarke was shot in the leg, and was led away by his brother John, while Tom Connell covered their retreat, and kept the police back till they had got to the top of the hill, when Connell waved his hand triumphantly at the police and, with the two Clarkes, rode away. The police did not think it worth their while to follow, so mounted their horses and returned to their stations. The party to which I belonged were in the gully that day; about two miles from the scene of the encounter and rescue. We were told that Tommy was carried away on foot by his brother, while, Tom Connell alone kept the party pf police, under sergeant B. at bay, till they escaped. We hunted about, but seeing nothing, returned to head-quarters, where we only got a very imperfect and partial sketch of this affair.

A short time after the Ballalaba police came on them again, near Ballalaba. The boys were getting their dinners and had just time to mount their horses as the police rushed on them. The police being well mounted the boys could not get away until Tommy Clarke drew up and boldly faced them, firing right and left. Tom Connell, having a bad horse,, sneaked down towards the creek, when the whole of the police went after him and bailed him up. He surrendered, as he always would, quietly, when in the least danger. The police did not then pursue the Clarkes, who were near, but permitted them to go on, unmolested. Tom Connell was taken to the police station in triumph. For this B. was made sergeant, and he deserved his promotion, but there were men in his party who also merited consideration, but they were overlooked.


After this affair you could not go near Ballalaba unless you took your own grub with you. They fancied they had everything right, and became jealous of the police of other stations. The party to which I belonged have gone there as they were sitting down to meals, either dinner or supper, but they would eat away without, offering you a mouthful. So the police of other stations never went to Ballalaba except they could not help it. You could never get any information from the Ballalaba police about the boys; they kept all to themselves to prevent others from succeeding. They cared not two pence how long the boys were out, so long as no other police, took them. They went so far as to request the superintendent to prevent me from crossing the range. It was surmised that our party had the right information. The superintendent most unwisely complied with the request and ordered us not to cross the range. It will be seen presently that our information was correct. The “bush informer” previously alluded to, was our friend. It may be here stated that this young person got a moiety of the reward for the apprehension of the Clarkes, but I would rather tell these things in my own way, though perhaps not exactly in regular order to your mind. Well, they even tried to prevent us from coming up the gully, but we went in spite of them. For where else could we work with any prospect of success? It was in this locality the Clarkes were stopping.

Now here was the country crying out about people being robbed and murdered, and Carroll accusing the whole lot of us to the Colonial Secretary, and before magistrates, for not doing our duty, when one portion of the police were positively trying to keep the other portion of the police in the district from coming on the bushrangers. No doubt the Ballalaba police would have liked to reap all the honours, but why complain to the superitendent and prevent other parties of police from using their exertions? Were robberies and murders, to be perpetrated until one particular party of police arrested the criminals? The whole affair was a grievous blunder. Each policeman, of whatever rank, fancied he had the best clue. An impartial mind, must admit that it was becoming high time for the Government to interfere in some way.


At about this time Tom Clarke got another mate, called the Big Tailor, whose proper name was James Doran. They commenced by sticking up some Chinamen’s stores at Major’s Creek, but Stafford and his party of police came on them and obliged them to shift, though they took their own time to retreat. Here was another party who wanted to do the thing quietly. They had received reliable information that the Clarkes were to stick up in Major’s Creek that night. In fact, when half a mile away only, this party were informed the bushrangers were at the Chinese stores. Now mark this. This party of police belonged to Araluen. There were police stationed at Major’s Creek, who had only just returned from patrol, and were sleeping soundly in the barracks. The Araluen party, after being told the boys were at the stores, had to pass the police station at Major’s Creek; but instead of the officer in charge calling them up, so that all could go down and surround them, as it was his duty to do, he went down with only two policemen. And they went down, not with circumspection, but openly rode along the road to the store. Of course they could be easily seen. 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.

Now, it will not be found that the Clarkes gave away such a chance as this during the whole time they were out. If S. had got the men from the Major’s Creek police station, went down on foot together, and surrounded the place, they could have taken alive or shot the lot of them. However, he received nearly as many thanks as if he had captured them.


We shifted our station at this time to Foxlow. After being there a short time we heard that the Big Tailor was crippled through a fall from his horse, and was harboured at a certain place some distance above Mick Connoll’s. So Egan and myself started one evening in the wet to the head of the gully, riding all night so as not to be seen. We arrived at a settler’s place at about 7 o’clock in the morning, and as we neared the place, saw two men coming in our direction on horseback. As they looked rather suspicious we kept behind some bushes till they were within shot, when we rode steadily towards them, prepared for contingencies. They would have pulled up only for shame’s sake; so after looking about, as if they could not help it, they came on. They were two of Carroll’s mates. As soon as we saw that, we bade, them good morning, and rode fast to the house, where we saw a man walking about, with a gun in his hand. On approaching nearer, we saw it was Carroll; and his third mate was near. We bade them good morning and walked into the house. We learnt Carroll’s mission was to take the son, our “bush informer” for sticking up the stores at Major’s Creek with the Clarkes. Of course. we knew this to be wrong, but said nothing, determined not to interfere with the detectives. In fact, we did not let on that we knew them to be Carroll and his party. Carroll was waiting for the son. We were told inside that he was over at Guineas’ helping them to get in their potatoes; and for us to go and take him if there was anything against him. But we had no charge against him. In fact we had reason to believe he was the most straight-forward young man in all Jingera. We saw at once that Carroll had been urged on by Lucy Hurley, who was anxious to get rid of him because the young man had refused to do certain jobs and to help her to take some horses to Tom Connell. In fact the “boys” determined shortly after this to shoot him, but he managed to escape.

Carroll had sent the two men we met to Guineas’ to arrest young —. When we came out, Carroll called Egan, and told him who he was, and who he was going to arrest. He sent Egan to me to say he was an officer of police and requested me to go to Guineas’s and keep young — in a string, till he and his men came up and arrested him. This I declined (1) because we had come expressly to arrest the Big Tailor; (2) because we did not like being interfered with by Carroll; (3) because we knew where young — was on the night of the robbery; and (4) because we had orders not to ride in the bush alone; and it was seven miles across to the range to Guineas’. After considering a few minutes, I told Egan to tell Carroll my objections. He asked my number as well as my mate’s, and reported us to the Colonial Secretary, or to some one high in authority.

Here was a pretty kettle of fish, four men well armed going to take an innocent young man, and charge him with robberies, while the police were to be brought into it for a reprimand. The whole affair was absurd. It was absurd to send a trooper seven miles off to take a man, and keep him in a string for an hour or two, till Carroll’s men came up. It would have been illegal for us to take him without a sufficient charge; and even then, to obey the order for arrest, the policeman must know that he who orders has power to enforce obedience. Carroll did not possess this power over the police. Well, Carroll and his party took this person and had him brought up at the Braidwood Police Court. He was remanded from time to time; the only particle of evidence, which Carroll could adduce being that of Lucy Hurley, and so, finally, he was discharged. But of this more presently.

Now, on the morning we met Carroll at the house in the gully, he had passed one place and enquired for the Big Tailor, who was soon told by friends that he was “wanted,” and, of course he was shifted at once. So that our night’s ride in the wet, and swimming rivers in the dark went for nothing, and this through the imprudence of a man who was charging the police with all sorts of crimes, with being too familiar with the Miss Clarkes, and for being in a public-house getting a nobbler after being out in the cold and wet bush two or three days. The Big Tailor was actually in the pig stye when Carroll was inquiring in the house for him, and telling the inmates he was a special detective, and that he wanted the Big Tailor for the robbery at Major’s Creek. But he was not in the pig stye when we called there about an hour after wards. As soon as Carroll and his party left, the Big Tailor was removed to a thick scrub half-a-mile off, on the hillside. We felt so disappointed when we went to the pig stye, and afterwards heard what Carroll had said inside the house, that we said to ourselves “This is a clear case of aiding and abetting a bushranger to escape.” Through this ocurrence the Big Tailor was never arrested.


The Big Tailor, in due time, rejoined the Clarkes at their camp near Michelago. We were told he was being harboured at a settler’s place named P—, and that he had a double-barrelled gun and revolvers with him. Our opinion of the Tailor, was that he would have shot as many men as came in his road sooner than be taken. We went after him, but it was a wild-goose chase. When, at one end of the gully we heard he was at the other, near Michelago. He got wind we were after him, and managed to slip off towards Gippsland. It is generally supposed that he got drunk on his way there, fell against a tree, and was killed. Now the Tailor sadly wanted to leave the Clarkes. When he went away he had with him a railway wrapper and a double-barrelled gun belonging to the Clarkes. When the Tailor’s body was found there was neither gun nor wrapper near it, and it was not ascertained that his death was otherwise than accidental. But the Clarkes were camped not far from where his body was found, and as the Clarkes never liked to trust a confederate who had left them, it is more probable that they killed him and took the gun and wrapper from him. The Clarkes then got another mate by the name of Bill Scott, a real rowdy, and a customer that would deliberately shoot any man in New South Wales for sixpence.


At about this time Carroll was nearly every day arresting some of the people in the Jingera country; some were guilty enough, but others he was “rigged” to take by his informant who had a down on them. We knew he was being misled, but, could say nothing. It was about this period he made the great mistake of seizing some wine and spirits which had just been transferred from one store to another. Carroll was “rigged” to this by another store-keeper. It is questionable whether Carroll ever knew the facts about this case, at all events, it did him much injury, for after keeping the wine for some time, the magistrates ordered him to return it. This turned many people against Carroll; for the store-keeper in question had a license all the while, and entered an action for damages, but Carroll’s death stayed proceedings.

As we are approaching the period of the “Jinden murders” it would be as well here to devote a few lines as to Carroll’s position preceding this occurrence.

When Carroll first came up to Braidwood he was in Flynn’s party. Flynn went out to Foxlow where he had friends who told him truly of the movements of the boys. A certain police-sergeant heard of Carroll being at Foxlow, and went over, stuck him up, and made him exhibit his authority before all the civilians. This was a cut which Carroll never forgave. Flynn had got on the right scent, and saw the boys come over to an old hut. They went to this hut after an encounter with us in the Molongo range, close to Foxlow, previously described. It was to this hut we wished to go when sergeant C. refused, and so we made a mess of it. Now, there can be no doubt that Flynn would have done some good then, but Carroll, most unwisely, fell out with him, and got the party broke up. Carroll then formed his own party and came to Braidwood again with Kennagh, Phegan, and McDonald. The last named had been in gaol for forgery, and Carroll made up a plan with him to entrap the Clarkes through the instrumentality of James Clarke who was in gaol. This plan was as follows: McDonald was to go to old Mrs. Clarkes’ house on a visit with a message from Jemmy, and he was to see the “boys” Tommy and Johnny, and concoct some plan for Jemmy’s escape from gaol. By this dodge, McDonald hoped to find out the haunts and movements of the Clarkes. He was supposed to be acting alone, but it was concerted how, where, and when he should report progress to Carroll and his other two who were to be pretended, surveyors, and they pitched their camp not far from old Mrs. Clarke’s hut, and went about their business for awhile in a very fair manner. The scheme was admirable if cautiously carried out; but Carroll was too eager. He went spying about the house too frequently, and in such a way that anybody could see he was no surveyor. The vigilant “bush telegraphs” were not long before they found out what he and his party were up to. McDonald would go from old Mrs. Clarkes straight to Carroll and talk to him. The rumour that secret detectives had been sent out began to be confirmed in the minds of the ” telegraphs,” who had not permitted these strange “surveyors” to pursue their innocent avocations without being well watched. The proclamation of outlawry had put Tommy Clarke on his mettle. The Felons’ Apprehension Act stimulated the ingenuity of relatives, and sympathising friends. Hence a higher class of bush telegraphs sprang up. Old Mrs. Clarke was not long in detecting the designs of McDonald. She was as deep as McDonald, and had more in her heart to sharpen her perceptions for the safety of her recreant sons. Hence, when she discovered that Carroll was a detective she hunted him from her house. The whole design oozed out, and appeared to be so treacherous on McDonald’s part that the Clarkes, or some one, fired into their camp at night. Carroll then shifted into Braidwood and took up his quarters at Vider’s public-house, whence he would make occasional trips to the gully and back. He reported that he never could see any of the police about Mrs. Clarke’s hut. Carroll was perfectly correct in making this report, for the police could not be induced to watch this most important locality. It was about the time we took Bruce that Carroll made his visits to the gully, and in one of these excursions he made a woeful mistake in arresting our best bush friend; This person put our party on Tom Connell, Bruce, and Lucy Hurley, after his “confidential inteview” at Mick Connell’s. We only got Bruce. I obtained a warrant against Lucy for the carving knife attempt at me, with a view to stop her gallop. She was examined and committed but let out on bail. She as certained from the police — mind this — who had betrayed her and her paramour. So she “rigged” Carroll to arrest young —. She swore she had often seen him sticking up with the boys, and that he helped to stick up Foxlow the first time, but we knew him to be at home at the time the robbery was committed. She told Carroll he helped to stick up Major’s Creek, but we knew he was camped on the road with a load of goods, going to market, accompanied by his mother. He satisfed us that the Big Tailor was at the Major’s Creek robbery. He told us also where the Big Tailor was stopping, namely, near his mother’s hut.


Well, Carroll commenced operations in earnest. He began with the harbourers. He took Mick Connell, or Michael Nowlan O’Connell, as he was called in the indictment; and, then he took James and Pat Griffin. Carroll was right here for they were all guilty of harbouring, aiding, abetting and all that, but he was wrong, when he arrested young —. This young man would have been Carroll’s safety, if he had exercised prudence but he took him at the instigation of Lucy Hurley who had a terrible spite against the young man’s mother, who had a great grudge against me until she saw my intimacy with her son was for a good purpose. So, when we met Carroll at the hut we refused to aid him by going to Guineas’ for reasons before stated. Young — was kept in gaol for some time, but Carroll could get no evidence against him, so he was liberated. This made — work harder — not for Carroll — but for the “regulars,” to get the boys captured. As soon as Mick Connell was let out on bail, the storm began to brew against Carroll. He sent word to the boys that he wanted to see them, and something was arranged. Carroll was boasting that he would arrest all the settlers in the gully, and that he would get up a case against Ned Smith of the Jinden station that would astound him. He arrested Tommy Clarke’s sisters, and used them somewhat roughly. He brought them to the police court where they were examined, but the evidence being insufficient they were liberated. Smith, of the Jinden station expected every day to be taken. Thus the boys and Mick Connell became exasperated and vowed a terrible vengeance. This was about the time I got the gun from old Mrs. Jermyn, near Foxlow. I borrowed it ostensibly to shoot ducks, as her husband was in gaol, and there were swarms of ducks on the river at night. We had not left Jermyn’s long before the boys called and asked for this very gun, saying they wanted it for a particular purpose. When they heard the police had it they swore they would stick up the one who had it, but never ventured to do so.

I was told something desperate was brewing and wrote to Carroll privately to put him on his guard. We watched a certain place two nights but saw nothing. From exposure in the gully I was attacked with inflammation of the chest, and had to go to Braidwood for medical treatment. When lying sick the first day, I was told Smith from Jinden had been in town two days previously and was seen talking to Lucy Hurley, and that they were both talking to Carroll in a public house for a long time. Mick Connell was plotting something with the boys. Smith returned to his station, and the day after or so Carroll and party went there. The two Griffins were out on bail. Knowing Smith, of Jinden; knowing Lucy, and Mick Connell, and the Griffins; knowing the rancour which the Clarkes entertained towards Carroll, for arresting so many of their relatives, especially their sisters, and suspecting treachery, I wrote from my sick bed privately to Carroll, warning him to be very cautious, to keep off tracks, and not to leave the public roads. A few days after this the startling news arrived in Braidwood that two of the special constables had been found shot dead on the track between the Jinden station and Guineas’, and the next day came the appalling announcement that Carroll and Kennagh were found shot dead about a quarter of a mile from the track, and that over Carroll’s breast was placed a £1 note symbolical of the blood money he was hunting for.

These are a few matters preceding the murders, but how those murders were planned, where, and by whom; and how and by whom the murders were perpetrated, will require more careful consideration, for it will not do to mention at least one name in whose behalf high official influence may have been used to save him from a felon’s doom.


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Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Monday 11 November 1867, page 2




When Hughes and Egan first fired, Tom Connell’s horse broke away and passed me as I went up, but thinking that Tom himself would fall into my clutches, I took no notice of the horse. Hughes told me that he thought Bruce was armed, and was to his mind, as bad as Connell, or he would have left him and helped me to capture Connell.


As we proceeded down the hill, Hughes led Bruce, Egan led the horses, and I turned to the place where we saw them getting their dinners, to see if anything was left there. All that was left was a pair of hobbles, Tom Connell’s hat, and a butcher’s knife, like the one Lucy had when she tried to stab me. When we arrived on the flat Hughes asked me to hold Bruce’s horse while he helped him on. My own horse was standing loose. As soon as Bruce got on and drew up the reins, his horse reared up and was coming over on the top of him. By my retaining a hold of the reins I was pulling him over more, so I had to let go, and the horse came down on his side. But Bruce still stuck to him, picked him up and galloped off like a shot. I drew my revolver and was going to fire but Hughes dissuaded, as he would soon catch him. So Hughes jumped on his horse and galloped after him, I made a rush at mine but the animal bolted away. As soon as I caught him I made under the range as fast as the horse would carry me, through a scrub, thick with saplings, and I had to mind my eyes and limbs, for I was going at top speed. I had no time to turn but take it as it came. After a gallop of a mile I heard them coming up towards the range. There was a crossing place close to, near a paddock, leading up the range, and I felt confident Bruce would make up that way. As I came out on clearer ground I saw Bruce standing in his stirrups, jockeying his horse at full speed, with Hughes, after him. He had a splendid horse and I had to race fast to block him. As we came nearer I called upon him to stand and presented my rifle at him, but he told me to fire and be d—. I would have crippled his horse but Hughes sung out to me not to fire. Bruce came pretty close to me but as I was in his track with my rifle levelled at him, he took a second thought and wheeled, round, but turned into Hughes’s hands, for he did not proceed far before Hughes caught his reins. We then led him back to the place we started from. Egan’s horse was done up, which acoounted for his being unable to get up the range at first; and while we were after Bruce he followed, but lost the run of us, so that we had to wait a considerable time till he came back.

Bruce called me all the b-dogs he could think of for shopping him; in fact, he was mad. He threw himself down and bit the ground, foaming in the mouth, and spit at us, and then blew the dust and dirt in the air like a whale. He made several efforts to seize one of our rifles. In short we had to muzzle him, and give him a tumble or two. But that did not quieten him. I drew my revolver at last and threatened to shoot him, if he tried it on again; but he took as much notice of a revolver as he would of a gum leaf. Egan came at last, and then Bruce swore he would not go, so we sent Egan to the nearest place for a horse and cart and some ropes. When these came, and when Bruce saw the ropes he begged of us to take him on horseback and he would go quietly. We did so. When near Ballalaba Hughes went on ahead to get something ready to eat, and to let the others know of Tom Connell’s whereabouts. Bruce then asked me and my mate to let him escape and he would give us £5. We told him it was all right, and to take it easy. We expected him to turn rusty after Hughes left, but he went quietly the rest of the way. If he had made another attempt I believe I should have shot him, for I felt him several times trying to get his foot under mine to pitch me off the horse, but I was up to him.


After supper we left Bruce in the barracks with the Ballalaba police, and Hughes and I proceeded up the gully again, to see if we could come across Lucy and Tom Connell, but it was too dark, and raining cats and dogs. When we had travelled for about thirteen miles up the gully we came to a dilapidated house, and to our surprise found old Mrs. Connell there. She had left her own house thinking we should call and take her; but we had no occasion to take her; she had, so far, done us no harm. We beat about pretty well till break of day and then returned to barracks. Under our system we call them “barracks,” not police stations. We took Bruce into Braidwood, obtained a preliminary hearing and a remand. He was subsequently committed for trial. When the sessions came he was remanded till the next and allowed bail; but no sooner was he outside than we arrested him again for sticking up some Chinamen near Braidwood, when in company with Pat Connell and Tom Clarke, on two occasions. This charge was preferred because the Chinamen swore positively to him as they saw him being taken from the gaol to the court house. But Chinamen are people I don’t pretend to understand much. Bruce was then sent to Sydney, to be tried at the Central Criminal Court, and he ultimately obtained his liberty after being bound over to appear when called upon.


When we returned to our station my horse was done up, so I had to go to a neighbour’s to borrow one, but as there was no house handy I took a stranger that had come on the run and stopped there. We had rather a tough job to catch him, a greater one to saddle him, and then there was the job to get on him I was half inclined to let him go, for it was plain he had never been ridden much, if at all. I had been taken in up there several times with “pulled tailers,” and begun to think this was another duffer. The way they duff horses in Jingera is as follows: They take the colt and pull his tail, and then alter the brand. They can alter any brand that can be made. They will make a special brand for every horse, if he is a good one, so the horse only costs them the brand. I had lately to find my own horses, as those supplied by Government were old screws, and totally unfit for the times. So, by getting “sweaters,” and stolen horses, I generally managed to be well mounted. After some rearing and plunging I managed to mount my new prad, and, if jumping and plunging would make a good horse, I had a ripper.


We started for the gully again. Some police were stationed at Coady’s, whose promises had been confiscated, and were being guarded till the people went out, in case they attempted to burn down the house. We took some of these police with us, expecting to do something this trip. When we got over, Hughes and I went on to meet our faithful bush incognita and saw him privately, so that the other police should not know who was working for us, because we knew the police generally were the first to betray an informer at times. We ascertained that Alick Bradley and Tom Connell were to be at Mick’s that night at 11 o’clock. This was about their usual time of late; but they altered the time about once a week. Hughes and I went to Mick’s, and sent Egan and the remainder of the party, being the stronger, to look after the Clarkes at another part of the gully; and it was arranged if either party was first attacked the firing should be the signal for reinforcements from the unattacked party at racing speed. We reckoned it would not be many minutes ride, and the shots would be heard a good distance in the night. If nothing turned up we were to meet in the morning at a certain spot. Hughes and I watched Mick’s till nearly 2 o’clock, and then gave it up for a bad job, and returned to our horses, which were tied to a tree about half-a-mile away. My horse, contrary to expectation, was there, all right. We intended to remain here until daylight.

After the moon went down it became very dark. We were both against a tree half dozing. We could never sleep without a sentinel being on guard. We were in that half slumbering mood when the least crack of a stick would startle us. We heard a stick crack, and then all was silent. We heard another. I could, somehow, always tell the difference between a horse feeding, and a horse being quietly ridden. Hughes said it was an opposum, and dosed off, but the next crack woke him, and he came to the conclusion that bush horses were about. There was no sound for half an hour; we dosed again, and heard another crack. We then heard the beating of a horse’s hoof, and sounds like subdued voices. They seemed to be near our horses. I heard my colt blow an alarm as horses do when startled. We sneaked up to behind our horses. We heard two voices close to us, rushed up, and called upon them in the Queen’s name to stand. I went to my colt and was looking, over his back to try if I could see them, but it was so dark you could not see five yards off. As soon as we called on them to stand they bolted off like a shot. I was raising my rifle to fire when my frisky and treacherous colt kicked me in the thigh and dropped me. Hughes saw me under the horse and picked me up with great promptitude. W. could hear the sticks and limbs cracking like a volley of revolver shots. I believe they never stopped till they got out of the gully. It is wonderful how they escaped with sound limbs. This can only be accounted for by the brittleness of the gum tree branches, which give way when you strike against them, but one runs a chance of coming against all sorts of of limbs when on full gallop of a night. We could do no good by moving; we had a short sleep till day-light.

You may think it a pleasure, but it is no joke to lie in the bush and half dose with anxious fears throughout the cold and frosty nights in that quarter. Still, when we thought we were secure from surprise, we could sleep out a frosty night without a blanket or cloak; and in the morning find ourselves benumbed, and covered on the exposed side of our bodies with hoar frost.


After we met our mates we went down to Mick Connell’s and had breakfast, and hung about awhile, when Alick Bradley came in as bold as brass. I treated him, asked familiarly how he was getting on, the state of his health, and in other ways expressed some concern for his welfare. He said he had come over to live in the gully now, as he had been discharged since the last robbery at Foxlow. This was the third time Foxlow station had been stuck up. I tried to draw him to drink, but he would only have two glasses of rum, and then turned to port wine, and said he must not get drunk. I did not let on about seeing him that night; in fact we oould not tell who they were for certain, but knew enough to work on. We left Mick’s but set a party on to see how much grog Alick took away. We learnt that he took with him, shortly after we left, two bottles of gin.

We started towards Ballalaba and after crossing the first ridge, turned up behind it and made back to the road we expected Alick would take to the gully. We saw Alick start, but instead of our chaps keeping quiet they foolishly let themselves be seen. Alick took no notice of us, but I was certain by his passing unconcernedly without looking about, that he had seen us. He went on quietly till he got in a little gully, when he set off at full gallop. My mates would keep on the road, galloping, as they had not seen him turn off, until they came near the gully. I was a long way behind, so they waited for me when they found they had lost the run of him. They were all excited and thought he would go to his own place first, but I expressed a contrary opinion. To gain time I bowed to the majority and we pushed to Alick’s house, but he was not to be seen. We passed to another house, and two or three of us lit our pipes and had a smoke when we saw Alick coming down the hill from ther other side of the gully, and making towards his own place. We knew he had done his work then, and we also knew the “boys” would be off. I never let on seeing him, but let him pass unseen, and then joined my mates who were not far off.

Hughes and I then went to our bush friend to ascertain a little of the programme, and found the boys were off to stick up in two or three days, and that Alick was to join them that night. As we knew the direction they would take we made for their tracks, picked them up, and followed them for five or six miles, when they began to scatter, and my colt began to sulk, so we made our way aoross the range to our station. We could do no good by following the tracks, which were designedly made to deceive. The further we advanced, the more we should be behind, for the boys were on scent, after seeing Alick and were sure to start in a wrong direction, then scatter so as to make the devil’s own job to follow them. We had no tracker, but we understood their game by the dodging, and direction of the tracks, and arranged our plans accordingly. We returned to our respective stations.


Hughes and another man went to Braidwood. We arranged that if the robbery took place our way before he came back, I was to watch Alick’s movements, and make him ours. If the robbery took place near Braidwood, as we rather expected, on account of the “two or three days” our bush friend spoke of, then Hughes would hear if there was a fourth man in the gang. If so we were right. Hughes had not long to wait. The robbery came off, and the fourth man was among them.

It seems after the “boys” stuck-up Mr. Taylor’s place at Bomby they took all the things to the top of Jillamatong hill. This hill is quite close to Braidwood. They planted the things among some rocks and left them in charge of Alick, with some spare horses, while they went across to Little River, to stick up the escort, but not succeeding, they went back again.

While they were gone information was given to all the police, who, being accompanied by the tracker, ran the tracks to the top of the hill and got the property and the horses. As they were coming up Mr. Alick saw them and made off, and went straight to his home in the gully, yoked his bullooks, and started to Foxlow, to return the dray he had borrowed, and to bring his own back. This was a clever move of Alick’s for alibi purposes. He left word with his wife that if any of the police came while he was at Foxlow, for her to jump on the horse kept ready in the little paddock, gallop out, meet him tell him the news, and he would then stick in the bush with the others. If the police had watched the goods on the hill they might have come across the robbers; but Alick, who had seen the police, may, have found speedy means of informing the boys of their danger, and so the game would have been all up.

We came to the gully and watched the hut all night, but no Alick came. So we consulted our bush friend, got on the track of Alick’s dray, and proceeded to Foxlow. While we were watching his hut, waiting for him, Alick was at Foxlow, talking and yarning about the bushrangers, to the police recently stationed there, stuffing them with all sorts of lies, and in the morning started for home, as we were starting for Foxlow. He was a cunning gentleman, was Alick, but we followed his track so as to make no mistake in the road he took. And it was wise we did so, for he took a lot of bush tracks across ridges and gullies, but had to come back to the road at Parker’s Gap as he could not otherwise cross the range.


We met him fair in the gap. He was driving his team along. We did not let him see us until we were too close for him to get away. We rode as if intending to pass him unnoticed when we turned close upon him, asked him where he was on a certain night, and arrested him. We gave him the usual caution that anything he said might be given in evidence against him. He replied that he did not care what he said, as there was no one there who knew him, and that no one could swear he was one of the four. On account of the boy with him being so young, we could not safely leave the team with him, so Alick had to drive it to Ballalaba from which place it was sent home in due time.

We took Alick on to Braidwood, and after an investigation before the magistrates, he was committed to take his trial, and kept in gaol until the ensuing sessions. In the meantime we returned to our station, thinking to get another party who was working with the gang slyly, but his case being hardly ripe we could not take him yet, so left him to his doings. We then beat about after the gang itself. Tom Connell was trying all he could to get a shot at me, but he somehow never succeeded.

On the sessions coming off Hughes and I went into Braidwood, and, though we had many respectable witnesses, we found some difficulty in obtaining a conviction. In fact, his Honor Judge Simpson, summed up rather in favour of an acquittal, and, in consequence of that, several other cases were put off till next sessions ; but it was deemed advisable afterwards to bring them on to Sydney. It seems that some person told senior-sergeant D. that Alick was at the robbery, so he went up the gully with constable G., searched Alick’s hut, took away some flour and a pair of stirrup leathers, and made some inquiries for Alick. Now this was just the thing to have sent him to the bush as a clever bushranger with the Clarkes, if we had not taken him before he got the news from his wife.


For this affair senior-sergeant D. received £15 out of the reward of £200 that was offered for the Clarkes’ associates. D. got his mate, G, £5, and £25 to D’s. informant. This informer merely told that Alick was one of the men who stuck up Taylor’s place, but gave no information whatever that led to Alick’s arrest, because as soon as D. searched the hut and found he was not there he went back to Braidwood. All that Alick had to do then was to remain in the bush till captured, or perhaps shot. Now the proclamation offering the rewards states that any person who shall give such information “as will lead to the arrest” of such persons shall receive the above reward; that is, one half to the police who capture, the other half to the informer whose information led to the arrest. As will be seen D.’s informer contributed in no way to Alick’s arrest. The informer who really led Hughes and I to arrest him was a different person, who had never misled or betrayed us. By the terms of the proclamation, therefore, our informer should have received £100, and Hughes, Egan, and myself, the other £100 that was offered for him. But it was not so. Hughes, received £30, Egan and myself received £25 each. Now here were people getting our money for lying in their bed, while we were living in the mountains, half starved with cold and hunger; we captured the man, and put the case in form. But we were only common constables, without official friends, while D. is a man that could not ride a horse out of a trot except on a straight road. I consider that Bruce’s and Bradley’s cases were as well traced up as any of the gang, and our thanks were to be mulct out of our fair moiety of the reward offered by the Government. In fact they tried hard for half our information for the other party whose hints led to nothing. You may think I am complaining captiously; but the time has long passed when I felt somewhat hurt at what we each felt to be an injustice. The distribution of Government rewards to police is a matter that requires some investigation; but as the pursuing of this subject would lead to charges of official corruption I would prefer others to deal with it, while I continue my story of the bushrangers.


At about this time Carroll and his party made their appearance in Braidwood and its surrounding district. After a while they commenced running down the police and made them their enemies. This was bad policy. Carroll excepted one or two high officials from censure from political motives. It would have been wise if he had been as prudent in other respects. He condemned the police as a body in the Braidwood district for not doing their duty. To a certain extent he had good grounds, for some of the police did nothing. But Carroll went to work and condemned us all, and having in his party one accustomed to the quill, put things into shape without, in every instance, adhering strictly to truth. The mission on which Carroll came was a good one. From the disturbed state of the district; from the impunity with which the Clarkes and their associates were carrying all before them; from the apparent incapacity of the police and want of judgment in those who guided them; and from the dismay of the inhabitants I can easily account for the Government taking this extraordinary step of sending up a party of private detectives well armed-armed in a double sense, with rifles and revolvers, and with full power to go whither they list, and use them. On an expedition of this kind as much judgment is required in him who selects the men, as prudence and courage in the men selected Carroll and his party are, unhappily dead, and I should be much pained to set down ought in malice, but this matter must be fairly met. I say if Carroll had been more discreet, and taken matters more quietly until he had made himself acquainted with the district and the people he would have had every chance of success in his mission. He could have made out some cases against the police, and many cases against harborers. But he had more than bushrangers and harborers to contend against. It was, in ordinary phrase, death for a policeman; to be seen speaking to him. In fact we got orders not to recognise either Carroll or his party, nor to interfere with them. Hence there was a spirit of jealousy and dislike fostered against Carroll who had thus to battle against the moral and secret force of the police. There were frequent disputes of an angry nature in Braidwood, between Carroll and the police. I was in court when he accused them, he was not one of ours, he was an intruder. His presence was the seal and stamp of our incapacity, and we hated him. I could have put him up to a trick or two, but I should not have been long a mounted trooper if they had seen me speaking to him. He was sent on a certain mission. He had full powers to not and to go where he liked. He had the full exercise of his own judgment; He was invested with powers no policeman ever dreamt of. He was beyond the pale of that system which requires that all shall proceed from head-quarters in Sydney. The common trooper, if he saw a bushranger within two hundred yards of him, dare not act without informing his sergeant, who might be asleep,or in the back yard, or away. If near, ten to one he will say “Wait till I dress and I’ll go with you.” Even then he may wish to consult the superintendent who, to show that he’s alive, may telegraph to Sydney for orders, and when these orders came where is the bushranger who, a short time previously, was within two hundred yards of the trooper, Hence the frequent country telegrams in newspapers “The outlaw has been seen and the police are in pursuit.” It is much to be regretted that police magistrates have not the control of the police in their respective districts.

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.

I am running before my story. Carroll and his party were not murdered at this time. There was some work yet to do by all, both before and after that eventful tragedy took place.


[Links to other chapters here]


Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Tuesday 5 November 1867, page 6




Well, we kept getting information but did nothing. Senior Constable W, took a scheme into his head and went to Braidwood to see the Superintendent about it. This scheme was to get some old, crippled horses and take them to within a couple of miles from the gully, plant our saddles and food and then proceed down the gully on foot and come on the bushrangers at night.

At this time the boys would ride up and down the gully at night with impunity! This scheme, to my mind, was a capital one this time if well carried out. I wanted Sergeant B. to try it but he never would. The Ballalaba police would never come in the gully at night about this period. We formed an expedition with W. in charge and went over, but instead of leaving the horses on the range W. would persist in riding them as far as Mick Connell’s. We had been riding about the gully all one night and were returning homewards when we ran against Tom Connell and Lucy Hurley. They were on their horses; stopping on a bit of a ridge, talking. They appeared to be so absorbed in conversation that they did not see us till we were within 200 yards of them, When they saw us Tom wheeled round, and galloped down the other side of the hill like lightning. He was out of sight before we could get a shot at him.

W. never offered to stir himself. This was riding old horses with a vengeance.

Two or three nights before this mine and constable Egan’s horses had been stolen, but they never touched W.s though his was the best of the three. We received word that the boys had gone over to Foxlow again, to stick the place up, but that they would be back again the next night to supper at old Mrs. Connell’s. Lucy Hurley was to be there to meet them. Mrs. Tom Connell had got into trouble for passing stolen notes: Lucy at this time lived generally with the “boys” in the bush, or at her mother’s.


When we knew that the “boys” would be back from Foxlow that night we remained in the gully until night, watching old Mick Connell’s hut. When it was dark one of our friends came with some food, he also brought with him a double-barrelled gun. Presently, under cover, of darkness, we crawled down quietly to within about seventy yards of the hut, and planted behind a large tree. Shortly after the moon rose, shining, brightly and converting night almost into day. We could see every slab in the hut. W. told me to get near the hut and listen to what was going on inside, to leave one of my revolvers with our mate, and my rifle with W. and party. I did so, and got near the hut, when I heard Lucy say to the old woman, “You had better make the tea they’ll be soon here.” I was turning round to creep back and convey this piece of agreeable news to my mates when I saw a horse’s head coming round the hut. I threw myself, flat upon the ground instantly, and remained as quiet as a log. He rode past me with a revolver in his hand, dismounted in front of the hut, and went inside. I was just going to draw my revolver – a movement I dare, not have done before, without discovering myself and spoiling everything. My revolver was under my breast when I fell. As I was rising cautiously to draw it Tommy Clarke and his brother John were just approaching like the first rider, who turned out to be Tom Connell. They both passed and looked round the hut at me. I never moved, but kept my hand on my revolver. Tommy looked hard at me for a minute, holding his rifle ready all the time. Moonlight shades seemed to favour me. From the place where W, and the party were, they could have shot him dead. Our friend told them they were the boys, and if they did not fire quickly they would hear them and be off. Old W said, seeing my position, “Poor So-and-so-they’ve got him; but we can’t help him.” Constable Egan, who on several occasions has shown great pluck, wanted W. to fire, but he would not. I lay within a few yards of Tommy Clarke and his brother, thinking every moment they would either shoot at me or gallop up to make sure what I was, but they did neither. Tommy was very dubious. This was all the work of a minute. In the meantime old W. kept stamping his feet, I heard him quite plain as I lay on the ground. This appeared to be intended to let Tommy know he was there. Tommy heard the stamping for he looked towards the tree and then called for Tom Connell to come out, the traps were near. Tom Connell came out instantly, jumped on his horse, and the three went off like a shot. This promptness convinced me these men gave no uncertain sound to each other. As soon as Tommy Clarke turned I jumped up and called on my mates to fire, and ran myself to the front to meet Tom Connell, but he had got behind the pigsty so that I couldn’t shoot at him with a revolver. I doubled to the other side of the hut thinking to meet W. and get my rifle, but found he had not budged an inch from his place of shelter. I roared out to him to rush up, and ran to meet him for my rifle. We then all blazed away at them, one shot each, but they had got too far away. We saw them pretty plainly too, especially when they came out on the clear flat. I fired first and my ball went through Tommy Clarke’s cloak. I wanted senior-sergeant W. to come inside the hut and get the property but he refused. He said he would not let any one know who it was that had been at the hut. I saw the bag of things in front of Tom Connell as he rode round into the hut. I heard him take these things off his horse and take them inside the hut, but not being in charge, and having been told by the superintendent that as “a mere trooper” I was not supposed to know what was right in these cases, I said no more. We pushed away as fast we could and left the stolen property in the hut. We were going to Braidwood to make an official report of the affair but on arriving at Jembaicumbene W. told me to remain there and guard Mr. Myers’ store as the “boys” were about. I saw my presence was not required in Braidwood till W. had made his report to the superintendent, It puzzled me how W. would clear himself. Well, he reported that he stopped near the hut for a long while and that while I was near the hut the boys came, saw me, and galloped away before he could do any good. When the Clarke’s first looked, I thought they had discovered me lying down; but when Tommy Clarke surrendered he told me that he thought I was a dog lying asleep in the bush. I had on a large heavy railway wrapper. Moreover W. in his report said that he and Egan were 400 yards from the hut, but they were only seventy. The tree is there now for those who like to test the truth of this. It was only what I expected, that the blame would be thrown upon me to save himself; but I am satisfied there never was a better chance for an officer of police to take aim and shoot these desperate outlaws. When I got into Braidwood the superintendent said it was a very unfortunate affair, but he supposed I couldn’t help it? I looked at him steadfastly, knowing then how the matter had been reported. It was no use my saying anything. I had an opinion that one person at least in this world would swear anything. There were two ayes to my no. I chewed and swallowed it, there being no alternative.


But I am overrunning my story. When leaving Ballalaba we went over to Jermyn’s, searched his place, and found the bed full of Foxlow property. We took old Jermyn into custody and he afterwards received seven years’ hard labour on the roads or other public works. He owned afterwards, to having been at the camp with the boys in the Molonglo range when we attacked them there. We had the boys nearly in our hands and were getting reliable information about them every day. Tom Connell had left the Clarkes and was going to shoot young Tom B. for being seen with me; he also threatened to shoot me and burn me afterwards.

We got information one day that Tom Connell, Alick Bradley, and Lucy Hurley would be at Mick Connell’s that night; We formed a party and went within 300 yards of Mick’s house, keeping in the bush close to the road. In due time we heard them bidding each other good night, as they were coming past us. Our proper course of action was to dismount, walk about fifty yards to the road, and bail them up as they came by. But W. would not move; he said it was no use, so they went by. I asked Egan if he would come, but he said he did not like to disobey orders. W. dared me to go; so they rode past us three parts drunk and singing.

After they had passed us, they started off to race and Tom Connell fell off his horse against a tree. Alick Bradley started after Tom’s horse, and he fell off, so both their horses went away. Tom and Alick slept somewhere about there for about four hours, when Lucy Hurley roused them up and they walked away into the gully. We went down to old Mick Connell’s and stopped there drinking till 12 or 1 o’clock when we left and proceeded to where we heard Tom Connell and his companions pulled up. We did not then know that Tom and Alick had fallen off their horses not far from where we now were, and where we camped for the remainder of the night, W. telling me to guard the horses for two hours. After stopping round the horses for two hours and a half I went to W. and asked him the time. He replied my time was up, that the horses would be all right, and that I could lie down and sleep till daylight. I told him I heard someone walking up above us, He told me “I was a d—, etc.” that there was no one about but I was convinced I had heard someone and remained awake all night. I knew if the camp was attacked old W. would not suffer the blame,


Next morning old W. commenced harping on me till I got out of temper, and told him I would report him for neglect of duty. It is no slight undertaking for an ordinary constable to report his superior officer, no matter how justifiable his reasons; so he told me I could report and be ——, that he would soon get rid of me, that I wanted to know more than he, that he would starve me like a dog, that I fancied I could capture bushrangers, but he would take the conceit out of me; that I wanted to take people for harbouring; in short that I wanted to do too much; that Mick Connell was a highly respectable and decent man, and so was Bruce, and he would see that neither got into trouble.

In this frame of mind we started to go out to Kelly’s, but instead of coming out there we got a mile and half above Kelly’s place. The “Boys” had a camp on the Round Mountain not far from here, and I asked W. to attack it, but he declined to have any thing to with it. He began talking about this camp to some friends of the boys, a course that was likely to cause them to shift and we should lose the run of them. I told a person in our confidence to get them to shift but to watch where they went. The “boys” did remove, but Sergeant B , and party came on them and ran Tommy Clarke pretty close. Tommy led them into a boggy swamp, and it was well he did, for they were gaining on him every jump.


As soon as we got to the next house we were told about Tom Connell and Alick Bradley falling off their horses and losing them; they had only just left the place as we arrived. They were to be at Mick Connell’s again that night, so we resolved to halt. Lucy Hurley was to ride a bay horse over to Mick’s at about 4 o’clock, and Tom Connell was to meet her there, close to the stockyard. This was good information to us. If we had gone down, kept out of sight, not far off, we could have captured him. We went to one of the ridges about half a mile from Mick’s house and watched it all day. When night came, W. said he would not go near the house but stop close to one of the roads leading from Mick’s to the gully. Tom Connell was to meet Lucy at the stockyard at 9 o’clock. My suggestion to W. was to tie our horses to a tree and go down quietly on foot, for if you made the least noise, they were off like kangaroos, W. would not go near the place, so we remained on the road until about 10 o’clock, and then we pushed home to Jingera, a distance of fourteen miles from Mick Connell’s and a fearful road to travel at night. When we got home we were not allowed to feed our horses. We remained at home for two days when I and Egan, were sent down to Ballalaba for the post. Before we started W. came to me and asked me not to notice what he had said; that he did not wish to offend, that if I would stick to him, he would stick to me, and we would stop at home for a week and have a spell. Above all things for me not to say a word to the police at Ballalaba — among whom I knew there were two gallant men — nor to let them know that Tom Connell was in the gully drinking. I told him it was all right, and away we went I saw plainly that I was in the “system;” and, being in Rome, it might be best to become a Roman. Still I felt sick at being a policeman. After the good chances we had had I felt somehow or other humiliated. On the road I spoke to Egan about it. Two ordinary policemen will talk matters over at times; He said it was rum work, and if it were known —– would soon be dismissed. I said it was E.’s duty to report —–; but he replied that he did not like to interfere, nor would he like it said that he had been the means of getting any man the sack. I said if our conduct of late were known in Sydney we should all get the sack, and deservedly; and that it was a constable’s place to report his officer, no matter how high his rank, if that officer did not do his duty. E. turned round and asked me why I did not report him? I said I would report him to senior-sergeant C. as soon as we got down, and tell them also about Tom Connell being up the gully. But when we got there the police were all out, and not expected back till next day, so I wrote out my complaint to the superintendent. We returned to our station. W. asked me if I had seen the police? He looked hard at me but seemed satisfied when told they were all away.


On our way back I was told that Tom Connell and Lucy had passed up that morning and were going to camp out at Jingera Jack’s farm, which is on the top of the Jinderie mountain, close to Bruce’s place. On the top of this mountain, there is a clump of rocks, about half a mile each way, and inside all is clear ground with plenty of good grass. There is only one way of getting to this place and at this period none of the police knew of it. The mountain sides are covered with granite boulders, some of which are 110 feet solid. I was also informed that Lucy was to go back to the gully for more of their swag. This was mentioned to W. but he disbelieved it, saying, in a pumping way, that he knew, who told me; but I know it would not do for me to tell him my informant unless I wanted everybody else to know him. So he would not go up. The next night Hughes came out to take charge and W. went into Braidwood; but during the day Bruce had called at the station, had dinner, and a long yarn with W. He told us he was going over to the gully, to Williams’ place, some twelve miles above Mick Connells. Knowing Hughes, and having confidence in him, I told him this, and that I had heard Tom Connell was going to camp near his place, and mentioned that W. Egan, and myself had promised to meet our gully informant that very night. The next day we went to the gully, and met at a particular spot this trustworthy bush informer who was introduced by me to Hughes: Safety to himself, and success to our plans, demanded that I should tell this person to act differently towards old W.

We then asked him what was on the board. He said Tom Connell and Bruce had been together at Mick Connell’s, drinking, and he believed they were there then. He said if we did not take Tom Connell soon we should miss him altogether, as he and Lucy were going to shift back somewhere and lie to for a spell. We stopped that night near our friend’s as it was getting late, and went next day towards Mick Connell’s and stopped about two miles off; while our trusty friend went to the house and had a nobbler, and a confidential yarn about the “boys.”

He learned that Tom Connell and Bruce had started out Bruce’s way somewhere to camp, and that Lucy was to meet them in the gully. His advice was to push for Bruce’s, to keep wide of tracks so as not to be seen returning homewards, as the “bush telegraph” was vigilant; and to have a quiet, sly peep at old Mrs. Connell’s in the gully as we passed.


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. At least it was not running away: but it was giving them a chance to escape, or shoot some of us. We had only a few saplings near us for shelter while the remainder of the intervening space between us was clear. I stretched, and lay myself under the cover of my horse’s neck so that he could not aim well at me. Hughes called on him to surrender and blazed away, but, unfortunately never touched him. We were only about 150 yards from them but Tom jumped about so quick that it was no easy matter to hit him. In fact I don’t think at 150 yards, the best rifle shot could hit me on a good horse if I were appraised of his intentions in time. As Hughes and Egan, two energetic and laborious constables, jumped off their horses, Tom Connell sprang on one of Bruce’s nearest to him, without a saddle. All this was not the work of three seconds for I saw Tom aim at me, and heard the report, and when I rose from the horse’s neck I saw Tom on the horse, and my mates dismounted. There was a thick oak scrub near into which Tom galloped and I after him. I had got to within fifty yards and was preparing to shoot his horse before he could believe it. Tom would have surrendered then without much trouble. The momentary chase was exciting. There was room enough to ride through this scrub on a sort of cattle track. Tom was plainly before me. Another second or two would have brought me on to him when Lucy made a sudden plunge at me with a large butcher knife.

This side thrust was so unexpected that for a moment I felt appalled. I was intently looking at Tom when she made the drive at me, and did not notice her until she had the knife near my breast. If my horse had not shied I should have got it: I pulled up as soon as I could, for my horse shied down hill, terribly frightened, and my finger was on the trigger to shoot Lucy. I had to make back through the scrub the best way possible and when clear of it, my horse stood like an old cow and would not budge an inch. My mates were getting on their horses. I called to them; and after a few minutes my horse got his mind and we proceeded up the range.


We blessed Lucy Hurley. After inspecting the track we turned down towards the creek and dismounted to reconnoitre. On looking over the brink I perceived Tom Connell preparing to take aim at me, so stepped back. He did, not fire, but as he was going round a projecting rock I fired. He threw up his arms and fell off his horse. I told my mate, and ran down the creek below him, thinking my mate would go to near where Tom was, so that we should have him between us. I was approaching stealthily, keeping a sharp look, but in case he was only wounded and would try a shot at me coming up when I heard Hughes calling me to come up to him, I did not go at first till I heard: them singing out philliboloo and then I rushed up the bank and fell half way down again. When I got up, Bruce, a thick set man, resembling Tom Clarke, had his head between Egan’s legs, I thought more of Egan than any man in the police, but if he had then been killed dead I could not have helped laughing. He had both arms out as if he were going to fly. I rushed up and poked my revolver at Bruce and told him to take it easy. He stood, and we handcuffed him. Lucy was galloping up on horseback but when she saw me she cleared out. I do not think there is a woman in the world who can ride a horse with Lucy in the bush.

We left Bruce with Egan and ran to the creek; but Tom had vanished leaving his horse behind. We took this horse to where Egan was and jumped on our own, galloped round but could not see him. Tom knew all the short turns and cuts about the range, as he had lived there for a long time. This was the third time I had encountered him here. I had sworn that morning that either Tom Connell should shoot me or I him, and this would have been tested if Hughes had come down when I called, for we were only thirty yards apart, though he was sheltered by granite rocks. But Hughes afterwards told me that Bruce was singing out to Tom to make up the creek away from me; When I fired, therefore Tom pretended to fall from Bruce’s horse, wounded, so as to run up the creek to where his own horse was, saddled.


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Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Friday 1 November 1867, page 6





After leaving Lucy Hurley at Mick Connell’s I went home to the barracks, thinking how I should nail the lot of them the next night, as Lucy had not the least suspicion that I was aware what was up. Who should I find at the station but senior-constable X. and constable W. with the news of the Gulf affair. I knew then that as the boys had been there they would be back the next night. I told X. this, but he shook his head and handed me a letter from the superintendent to the effect that I was to hold myself in readiness to start at a minute’s notice with X. who would receive further instructions before morning. This was a clincher. I could not disobey orders, but did not like giving up all my dreams of wealth. Here were all my castles knocked over as soon as I had built them. When you hear that a store has been robbed it is mere folly for a swarm of police to go to that store next day, in the hope of capturing the robbers; but this is frequently done. Well, senior-sergeant C. brought out these instructions and told us to push for our lives as soon as reinforcements arrived. They were not long in coming.

Sergeant H. had sent word that if a party of police went post haste to the Uram-beyan mountains, the boys could be all shot coming up the track from the Gulf affair. Well, X. was senior, so I asked him if he would push up the nearest road — that was, up the gully, and past the Jinden station, but old X. told me to leave it all to him, not to bother about grub, and to carry nothing on the saddle. So out we went to Wild Cattle Flat, had dinner, and then went to within four miles of Animbo, a cattle station, and camped by a log. We had nothing with us. We had made up a pretty good fire as it was raining heavily. We had a quart pot and sufficient tea and sugar to make a quart, and a bit of dry damper.


We had all been asleep when we were started up and thought we were attacked. The alarm was caused by the gong-gongs hitting old X.’s cape with a loud crack. These gong-gongs are a large sort of moth, almost the size a small bat, and on a dark, wet night swarm like bees. The fire dazzles while it fascinates them. They will come as far as they can see the fire and fly straight into it. If they happen to hit the ground before they get to the fire, they will crawl into it.

As soon as daylight came we were on the road again till we came to the station where we had breakfast on grub as black as your well-coloured pipe — unfit for a dog to eat. We jogged on again till we came to Big Badger station, belonging to Mr. Smith — not the Jinden-station Smith. Here we got splendid quarters. This was our second day’s travelling from Ballalaba and not at our destination yet. I thought much but said little. I could have started from Ballalaba and reached the place we wanted to go to in about half a day. At any rate in thirty-six miles. The third day came and we got a man to show us the road to the track leading down the mountain. He came with us till within half a mile, and even showed us part of the track, but we had to go down one spur and cross the creek, and then go up the next spur before coming on the track. We went down the spur, but instead of going up the next, went along under the range for twelve miles out of our way. Old X. said we were going right until he got frightened and owned he was lost. Here we were after “the boys” for shooting O’Grady! We had travelled right round Smith’s station at Jinden and were making down for Araluen; so I wheeled about and made for Smith’s place, X. saying it was too late then for us to do any good with “the boys” who had crossed long before now. This was the third night from our station. When within half a mile of Smith’s house I pulled up and asked X. if he knew where he was. He had no idea, and constable W. who was with us, said he could not tell as he had been put out. Yet this X. would tell the superintendent he knew every house, road, and track in the district. He could not believe his eyes when we came to Smith’s house at about dinner time.


Smith came out as big as two men and wanted to know our little game. We told him kangaroos—that we were hunting. He said he had sent for the post and if we waited half-an-hour we should get the news, so we let our horses out in the pad-dock. He said he had no grog, or he would offer some. We told him a good feed would do us better. He at once got us food, but never let on about the Gulf affair, or of Fletcher being one of his stockmen, though he knew all about it as well as he, and more. After dinner we started for home and camped about a mile from his house. We took with us some potatoes out of his paddock and roasted them for supper and breakfast. It was raining all night. We were wet through. My coat was under the saddle to save the horse’s back. We came to a farm at about dinner time.


The master asked us inside but the mistress being a little excited told us to go to Bath. She said she would poison that —– so-and-so, meaning myself, and commenced abusing my gallant mate W. To keep her tongue off myself, and her poison too, I told her so-and-so was no chop. “Oh, the rascal”, she said, “I know him by his curly hair”. Now W. had curly hair and this led her to believe he was me. W. was getting a little frightened, and that made her worse. She gave him tongue pie in earnest. The others asked me to take no notice as she was abusing me so much. For my life I could not then have taken in anger what she was saying to W. of me, for we had a stunning feed before us and were cold, wet, and hungry. After dinner, and as soon as W. got up she rushed at him and seized his rifle, and then you would have seen some tugging. She said old X. was quite welcome, but W., meaning me, should never have a meal in peace in her house. She was a sister to the Connell’s, and so had a down on me for shooting at them.


We then went to Mick Connell’s, and on the way were informed that “the boys” had got back, but X. knew better, and went to Mick’s for a nobbler, and it was hard to get him away. The tracker got screwy, and after we left Mick’s, about a couple of miles, fell off his horse. Old X. told me to leave him and come on home; but bad as I wanted home, and a change of dry clothes, I dared not leave him, as I knew he would go back to Connell’s, and as the “boys” were about they would soon have made a tracker of him, and taken his firearms and horse. To leave him there without firearms would have been as bad, as I knew we were being watched home, and he would certainly have been murdered. So I remained with him, and got him close home once, when he gave me the slip, and it took all I knew to follow him in the dark and catch him after a gallop of a mile among saplings. He swore he would shoot me but I did not believe him until I heard him cocking his carbine behind me. It was so dark that I could not see him. There was no road. We had to bush it for seven miles. As soon as I heard him cocking his carbine I turned round sharp and knocked him off his horse, and gave him one, two, for falling. I put him on the horse again and made him ride beside me. This sobered him, and he came on all right. When I got home X. had just got in. I think they had been lost. Sergeant B. was at home, so X. returned to his station. He told us not to let on about missing the track and no one would be the wiser. I believe he reported he was there but am not sure.

Now we had left Smith’s station that morning and stopped at three or four places on the road and then reached home early that night. Why should X. take three days to ride round the other road? It seemed as if he wished to avoid meeting them — though he was called the smartest man in the force at the time. The Superintendent believed he was the best man he had.


Sergeant C. was stationed at Ballalaba at this time, in charge, and another active constable named G. They asked me if I thought there was any chance of coming across “the boys”—and I replied that there was. My impression was they had a camp out the Molongo way. Sergeant B. also had been told of some horses having been seen down Molongo way, below the station, so off we all went. This was my fancy spot for a camp. B. was put on the scent to find the horses. We found twelve of them, mostly racers, amongst them being Fireball, Deception; and Astronomer — all first-class horses. While I was mustering them up, the others caught them and took off their hobbles. We scoured all round but could find no more. Tommy Clarke saw me ride close to him, and he lay down behind a log, with his brother Johnny, till I passed. They told me this afterwards, when they surrendered.

We took the horses to Ballalaba and reported the matter. The superintendent came out and ordered a search to be made for a camp, so we packed up three day’s grub.


We started out in the night this trip and went properly to work, and reached the place where we got the horses, pitched our camp there, and let our horses go. As soon as we got dinner we started on foot, having a better chance that way of picking up foot prints and running them to a camp. The superintendent, Mr. John Wallace, senior-sergeant C., I and the tracker went out, leaving sergeant B. and constable G. at the camp. We were all walking abreast of each other, about a mile from the camp, I being on the left and sergeant C. next to me. In this way we approached a fern swamp. These swamps are pretty dry to walk in, but very scrubby. The tall tree-fern grows from 8 to 12 feet high, and is intersected thickly with a sort of wild rose vine and covered with small thorns. When near one of these places I heard a footstep and signalled to C. whose place it was to signal to the next man and so warn the rest of the party. But the step being so near, sounded as if it was coming out of the swamp on towards us. We were so intent on listening that the remainder of the party had not been warned by C. and went on out of sight. The invisible owner of the foot step stood as if listening for about ten minutes, and then turned short back and went on. We concluded the invisible had either seen or heard us. C. and I consulted; he was for going after the party and cooeying them back, and as they could not be found without calling, we knew that by making the least noise it would scare away the boys if near. Our only way was to pick up the track and follow it to the camp. If we went after our party we should have been again unable to find the track. To pick up the track of a man in the bush is no easy matter. Even then we should have to return to where we heard the sound. We came to bare ground and there saw a small wellington boot track. This being followed, led us on to what appeared at a distance a deep creek, but on coming to it, we found it was a basin or deep swamp with a stream coming out at the side of the mountain. Here it was difficult to follow the track as the ground was covered with dead fern leaves. Suddenly the track made down to this den of ferns, but C. would not let me follow it down. We went up a little further and went down into the basin and crossed to the other side, making no more noise than a cat.


When we came out we heard some one walking ahead. We both (senior sergeant C. and myself) stood behind a tree. Tommy Clarke came out and stood listening about twenty yards from us. I was levelling my rifle at him, and wanted C. to call on him to surrender, but he would not, and told me if I dared to speak, or make any attempt to take him, he would suspend me from service. I could easily have put a bullet through his thigh, but was obliged to obey orders. Before coming out I had been told that Tommy and John Clarke were there, and Tommy’s wife, and that Tommy was sick. Tommy stood listening for about five minutes, and then went back again. Now, here we could have taken Tommy Clarke, or have shot him, and Johnny would have run for his life when left alone. We could have done a clean, clever trick that day, and even if John Clarke had stood to fight we were as good as they, and our camp was hardly a mile below us, and they would hear the shots. The scouring party would have come; at all events we could have taken up a good position where we were, so as to have kept off half-a-dozen men; but no sooner had Tom Clarke disappeared to his camp — for we saw the smoke — than C. wanted to run for his life to our camp. Well, Tommy had heard us as we came along steadily, and to have run over the stony ridge then in front of us would have merely invited his bullets among us: at any rate it would be bidding good-bye to our camp. I pointed this out and told him he would be shot, so this made C. remain behind the tree until I climbed the rocks and had a good view on both sides to see all was clear. I motioned for C. to come up. This was our only danger, for if they had heard us they would either have fired or waited till we had got out of sight when they would have shifted.

As soon as out of hearing we ran full split down the hill to our camp and got sergeant B. and G. We were exhausted with running, and stripped, planting our clothes in a log, and then returned, with few clothes on, the way we had come. But C. would have it we were going wrong and so we got wider than we ought. Finally we turned short and got near their camp when we ran over a track quite fresh — a horse track, shod. We began to think it was all up. We followed this track till we came across three or four more — all fresh — so we stuck to them till they led us round to the head of the basin to the other side.


When near the place where we first heard the footsteps, we found ourselves near the bushrangers’ camp and heard them laughing and talking quite loud. I crept on and listened to what they were saying. I saw the tent for the first time, and heard Pat Connell say, “Come, look sharp, and let’s get away or that — (myself) and mob will soon be on us, for they’re about somewhere. I tracked them to here.” As soon as I made out what they were up to I returned and told the rest, and we all crept up to a big log about thirty yards off, and fired into them without calling upon them; it would have been folly to do so considering the shelter they had. As soon as we fired one of the Clarkes fell. Constable G., a plucky fellow, wanted to rush them but was overruled. They at once fired back upon us from all points, cursing and swearing like savages, and we at them. We were behind a big log so they could not hit us. Their bullets went into the log, and some whizzed over our heads. I just popped my head up to get a good shot at the man who was cursing me so, but he was behind a tree twenty-five yards off. The lower part of the tree was hid from view by the ferns, but I could see the smoke rolling out from it. While thus looking two or three bullets swept past my head, so I squatted down. This sort of work lasted about an hour, when they began to surround us, at least they threatened to do so. Some began to whistle, others to sing, and swore they would shoot every d—l of us. This made C. order a retreat, for we were doing no good, beyond firing in the air. B. would put his revolver over the log and fire haphazard. Our only safety lay in parting out a little, and charging the camp resolutely. If they had escaped we should have taken their camp and horses, and cooking utensils, and been deemed the conquerors, but C. wanted to go to the camp for the rest of our party. B., however, said he would stick behind the log. Ultimately we all retreated about twenty yards behind a big tree, and had a “barney” over it, so I filled my pipe and had a smoke on the strength of it. When it came to my vote — whether we should run to our camp or stop — I said the minute we left our present position the affair was over, and therefore proposed to rush their camp, but B. would not agree, and ordered a retreat to our camp and consult the superintendent. So we ran away from “the boys” like men and left them masters of the field.

It seems that after we left the other chaps at first, the tracker came on some tracks from the same direction, and they ran them to the enemy’s camp also, and had gone down below the camp a couple of hundred yards, and sent the tracker to our camp for us, or whatever men there were there. When the tracker came to our camp no one was there, so he returned to his mates. When he got back we were attacking the enemy’s camp higher up. They could hear us swearing at one another but could not tell one lot from another and on that account did not like to approach; so they stopped for about an hour and then made for our camp, where they all were when we returned.


The superintendent inquired if any of us were shot and seemed quite surprised that we should have escaped. It was resolved to go back at once, so we caught our horses and pushed up, but it was dark before we got there, and raining gently. We went up on the side the boys were, and when near hung our horses up and crept along on foot. B. would have it that we were on the same side then as we had been firing from, and so put us out from finding the place for some time. At length we came to the spot and I had to be careful, for the boys were there. B and I went to where we thought the tent was and lay down till morning, with the superintendent and Mr. Wallace just above us, and the remainder of the party above them. Morning came and found us all frozen with cold. It cleared up in the night and commenced freezing, and we being half wet through, and lying still all night, we were frozen to that degree that “the boys” could have easily shot every one of us. The tracker could not stand at all. The superintendent and Mr. Wallace put a rifle between his arms and led him about till he got warm. We searched, but saw no trace of blood about the camp. We had hit the right place and lay down in the dark, but everything was gone, except half a bullock that was hanging over our heads, some milk, potatoes, bedding, clothes, and pumpkins. As soon as we found the tracks we ran them on some eight miles, still the superintendent decided that we were getting further behind, so we returned home and got a feed of which we were badly in need. There was another “fluke.”

We had then orders to take a packhorse with provisions for three days. We had information “the boys” were camped about six or seven miles further out, in an empty hut. I had the party within two miles of the place when sergeant C. galloped up to me and asked me if I knew where the hut was. I told him I could find it by my directions, as the country was just the same as I had been told, but he said, bullishly, he was not going to follow me where I liked, and he would go to the nearest house and inquire. I told him he would make a mess of the whole affair if he did. ” Mind your own business,” said he. “I’m in charge and wont be dictated to. Be civil or I’ll put you under suspension.” As he was so impertinent I let him go his own road. We camped close to “the boys” that night, and it took us till night the next day to find our road home again. Of course I was reported for incivility. These men, when promoted are very touchy. The superintendent told me I was only an ordinary trooper, and was not supposed to know if C. was right or wrong. This was doing our duty, if you like. He was frightened to tackle them again, so he kicked up a row with me to get out of it. As anticipated I led the life of a dog and tendered my resignation, but the superintendent told me I was too hasty and a fool to give up the regular force to join a parcel of volunteers, as I had threatened, as no volunteers should ever take them.

From what I saw around me, and from my knowledge of the bush and the people about Jingera, I had determined to go to Sydney, obtain an interview with Mr. Parkes, who I knew was going the right way to work, and join a party of volunteers. If I had my own way of working I could have found them in a week. I spoke to the superintendent about withdrawing my resignation, and he said if I wrote an application he would tear it up. I was stationed in Braidwood then for about a week.

Sergeant C. and B came in. Here was a barrack full of police and civilians from all sides, blowing a houseful about “the boys” being cowards, and that they would not come out and fight fairly. I got up and told them plainly they ought to be the last men to speak, as it was only the other day they ran away when “the boys” challenged to fight like men. Up some of them jumped and went to the superintendent and reported me again for speaking to civilians about police matters. This was the only point they could get a hold of — speaking the truth in the barracks. I was sent out to Wild Cattle Flat, then to Jingera. I and Egan, a plucky constable from Maitland, took it very easy here for about three weeks.


A man came from the gully and told us that Tom Connell was drunk there every day, so we went over and had a look at Mick Connell’s and came back again. About this time “the boys” mustered and went down again to Araluen. Information was sent to the Ballalaba police, that the boys would come up at some particular point of the range, so the police pushed out and saw them going along. The tracker watched them till they camped, and then the police crawled up, and fired a volley into them. It appears the boys did not expect anyone up there for they had stolen a lot of horses in Araluen, and Pat Connell was going round them when our chaps fired. The boys had hung up their firearms by the fire to dry. When the police fired the boys all jumped up in alarm and made for the first shelter. Pat Connell galloped back to get his firearms. The police had all taken up their positions behind trees, except Tom Kelly, a Goulburn constable. Pat Connell came close by Kelly and told him to stand back; but Kelly was not a man for nonsense, so he let fly at Pat Connell and shot him dead. The dead bushranger, the notorious Pat Connell, was then strapped on a horse, the police took what arms and things that were near the fire, and returned home. For this gallant action senior-sergeant C. was promoted sub inspector. B. was promoted sergeant, and Gracy was made a senior constable; but Tom Kelly the hero of the contest, was sent back to Goulburn, as his reward, and glad he was to get away safely.


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Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Tuesday 29 October 1867, page 6




I generally heard all about these things after they were done, for the “Boys” would tell all their little games to their friends and glory in out-witting the “traps”.


Next day there was the devil to pay in Araluen. The bushrangers had been there during the night and stuck-up two or three places. Berriman had been taken, and rescued. Four policemen were stuck-up and their arms taken from them. The Superintendent was off like lightning to see what was up and dismiss the four policemen who so shamefully allowed themselves to be disarmed. For myself, I would not consider long on their case, but have sent them all to the “right about”. After examination, however, only one was dismissed as an example. The particulars of this distardly affair appears to be as follows:— Constables Richards and Curran, two foot police, were informed that the boys were sticking up Morris’s store, so they went up and came across Tom Connell whom they captured. Tom would always stand when bailed up. They took him to Morris’s public house.

It seems Tom Connell had missed his mates who, after they had stuck up the store went to stick up another place. The police coming up, seized Tom who was loitering about, put a strap round his hands, and in this way took him to the public house. The police took about £20 from Connell who had himself taken it from Morris’s store — a brother of the Morris who kept this public house.

They had not been long here before the rest of “the boys” came to stick it up. The two constables were inside with Tom Connell secured. “The boys” commenced operations by bailing up the men about the place. They had bailed up several when Dacey, a constable of the town, came up. As he approached, Tommy Clarke and Pat Connell were still bailing up, so all that Dacey had to do was to come up quietly, see who they were, call upon them, and if they offered to run, shoot them. Instead of that he walked right up with a revolving rifle in his hands, and I believe a revolver, but am not sure. However, the rifle was enough. As he came up Tommy Clarke walked out and met him, and asked him who he was. Dacey told him he was a policeman, whereupon Tommy Clarke ordered him to hand over his rifle and fall in with the other men that were bailed up and standing in a row. Senior constable S. was informed of the bushrangers being at the public-house so off he went and rode in front of the place — seeing the men all the time the same as Dacey had. He dismounted and hung his horse up, and was walking over to them when Tommy Clarke asked who he was. S. told him his name, whereupon Tommy Clarke told him to hand over his rifle and fill in with the rest.

While this was going on outside the bar door Richardson and Curran were inside, behind the counter, with the door shut. Pat Connell went up and ordered them to open the door, but the two inside constables replied by firing at the slabs. Pat Connell fired a few shots, not at the slabs, but through the door, and then threatened to burn down the house if they did not open the door. Morris told the inside constables that he would not have his house burnt down. He said he would open the door, so that the inside constables could shoot “the boys” as they came in. The police inside had sworn in a special constable and stationed him with them behind the counter: he was armed with a revolver. Tom Connell was at this time a prisoner under their eyes. John Clarke, who now came on the scene, was standing guard over their prisoners outside; so there was only Tommy Clarke and Pat Connell to fight, if they came in. Morris opened the door and Tommy Clarke walked in and forthwith commanded the two policemen to drop their firearms — and so they did, instead of pulling the trigger at Clarke as soon as he came to the door. If the constables had not shot them dead, they would have beaten them back, and still stuck to the prisoner they had. But no, they surrendered themselves and their prisoner, and handed over their firearms to the bushrangers.

Here was a pretty lot of police — and one of them a native who ought to be shot for disgracing his country. Well, the boys made the police serve them out with grog, and they gave D. a kick or two in the behind for his courage. They took what they wanted, packed up, and bade them good night! The Superintendent went to the place and held an inquiry into the matter and dismissed R., I suppose because he was a native. He was not up to the mark of clearing himself. If any one they all ought to have been dismissed, and then put on their trial for aiding and abetting the bushrangers. It was a clear case. Here were policemen deliberately walking up to highway robbers and giving them their arms and ammunition. What more clear than this was aiding them.

Well, here was a pretty state of things. I was criticised all to pieces because I did not take them myself the evening before, when I was full gallop in the bush; but there was nothing much said to these men who had shelter to protect, and a good covered position to fire from with deliberate and dead certainty — because the boys approached to within an inch or two of their guns, and, instead of firing, they first surrendered their arms, and then took “nobblers” with the robbers afterwards. However, it is no use enlarging on this affair. We now knew that we had to face the boys with something more than a revolver. We had now to face breech-loading revolving rifles, and they had as many revolvers as they liked to carry. This made the police shake their heads somewhat dismally, and the civilians too, for the latter began to think it was all up with much of their property. Although I stated in court that it was Tom Connell who was with Clarke, everybody would have it that it was Berriman. John Connell was found guilty of having stolen tea in his possession and received ten years imprisonment with hard labour on the roads. Neither Lucy Hurley nor the old woman were tried, but bound over to appear when called upon.


While John Connell was being tried the rest of the boys were sticking-up near Micalago where they placed the head station under Levy. It seems they were having a party here when the bushrangers introduced themselves to the ladies and gentlemen, and joined in the festivities. And here they remained enjoying themselves until Captain Battye with a party of police hunted them out. Shortly after this the boys stuck-up Micalago again, Mr. B. telegraphing for them. As they came back they called at his house and got some of the flour baked and then camped about two miles off. There they sorted the stolen goods, Mr. B. being the inspector. They then made their appearance down about Goulburn, where they stuck the mail up occasionally, as a change in their ordinary programme. At this time their head quarters was out at the back of our station, about seven miles off, in a part of the Molonglo mountains, but it was not known for certain. I always believed that they had a camp in that direction somewhere, but never could make the rest of my mates believe it. One day we went out there, but Sergeant B. said he would never go again as the place was too scrubby.


The boys had about four main camps at this time — one was at Slapup towards Micalago but between Micalago and Jinden. The other was between Jinden and Araluen; and then they had one or two in the gully. They kept their horses at the top camp at this period, but sub-inspector Stevenson passing that way, they deemed it prudent to clear out. The boys did not particularly like Stevenson’s company. He was sagacious and could soon smell a rat, and the boys knew it.


When the boys wanted a spree, two of them would leave the camp on their best horses, taking nothing with them but revolvers. On one of these occasions senior constable S. and two others came upon them at Mick Connell’s public-house, Stoney Creek. The boys were about half drunk and amused themselves by galloping round and round the police who become so exasperated at the impudence of these scoundrels, that instead of taking deliberate aim they blazed away in quick time, right, left, and front. This continued till the boys got tired of the sport and then they made off for the gully where they intended to partake of dinner quietly, until they saw Mr. Watson and constable Walsh when they speedily decamped. Watson was in the creek about thirty yards from the house when they came up, and instead of letting them dismount and go into the house he made a rush at them and thus scared them down the flat and then pursued them. Tom Connell’s horse was so much knocked up in this chase that his brother Pat had to keep thrashing it with a sapling. They went about a mile down the road in this manner, towards the creek, until the boys wheeled into a pretty thick sapling scrub. They turned short off, but the police crossing so fast had not time, so they went on a half mile farther, and then pulled up to look. The two boys had thus slipped aside in the bush. When the police discovered they had lost sight of them they returned to the station much grieved and disappointed. They told me this as I passed their station. The next morning I and sergeant B. went up to where the chase had taken place. We picked up the mare Tom Connell was riding. This mare had been taken from Rosebrook on the night of the party. It appeared that young Battye had ridden her down from Cooma to the spree, and Tom Connell had taken her without asking permission. The mare belonged to Mr Lee of Bathurst, to whom it was forwarded via Goulburn.


After a lull, and a long silence comes a storm, so the boys next turned up at the Gulf, seventy-one miles down towards the coast. While sticking-up there, the police were informed of it. The boys had been sticking-up all that day out of the town of Nerrigundah. They shot one young man through the leg because he refused to stand when called upon. Things were in a sad plight. The inhabitants were panic-stricken. There were only two policemen in the town and one of them was sick in bed. It was known that there were at least five bushrangers, well armed, playing havoc, and carrying all before them with impunity. The boys had made it up with one of Smith’s stockmen on the Jinden station to lead them down to the Gulf, and he did it faithfully. Though O’Grady was very ill, and though he knew there were four or five of them, he got out of bed, dressed and armed himself, and went up with his mate to tackle them like men. They came up, not with show, but with a cool determination to do business with judgment. They came up in the shade of the street until within close quarters, when the boys spotted them. Fletcher, one of the boys, fired, and then O’Grady fired, not at random, and shot Fletcher dead. O’Grady, the next moment was himself shot dead, either by Pat Connell or Tom Clarke, but it was never positively known which. The boys then mounted instantly, and galloped right over the other constable, but did not hurt him much. So you see what two resolute men can do. It grieved me to hear of O’Grady’s death. His bravery was of that kind that I never expected to find in the police. Take all the surrounding circumstances, and a nobler act of heroic bravery and strict devotion to duty will not be found in the annals of New South Wales. Poor O’Grady! He was a brave man. He saw his danger, but he faced it nobly. It is hard to see a young man shot down in the prime of life, but I would sooner be shot down as O’Grady was than behave as the police did at Araluen. That Araluen affair is a dark spot in the annals of our Braidwood police; in fact the whole of the police have been injured in reputation by it. Where four men deliberately surrender, as they did at Morris’s public house, the people lose all confidence in police efficiency. However, this last affair was a victory, thanks to O’Grady and his plucky mate, and one of the boys had been shot dead. On their way back, the boys were encountered by sergeant Hitch and a party of volunteers, and it was supposed John Clarke was wounded. It got about that we were looking for Johnny, so he took to the bush with the rest. This gave us a better chance, for he was an active telegraph and scout for the boys. Moreover, Tom Clarke and Pat Connell had been both outlawed for the shooting of O’Grady.


I may as well here relate what I was doing at this time. Senior-constable B. was stationed at Araluen for a short time, and sergeant S., the officer of that station, was up at Major’s creek, on some particular scheme. I was left alone with the tracker, and was out day and night. One day I was planted at the back of old Mrs. Connell’s, watching the place. After a little while I saw Lucy Hurley come up and go into the house; and of all the rows I ever heard between two women, the best came off between the old woman and Lucy. Such scratching and tearing, such swearing and horrible execrations, screams, and defiant expressions, I never heard before. I heard Lucy say to the old women “I’ll tell Tom as soon as be comes back. He’ll be here to-morrow.” The old women denied that he would be back. Lucy said he had promised to meet her in the scrub at a certain spot at the back of the hut, and she would tell Tom all, and then woe to the old woman. It seemed curious to me that Lucy should threaten the old woman with a hauling over the coals by her own son, but this is bush life among a certain class.

Now, I knew the little spot in the scrub well, and so determined to go home, get some grub, turn out the horses, and get some men from Major’s Creek station, proceed to this little spot in the scrub, and wait there quietly in ambush till they came. While turning this over in my mind I saw Lucy leave the old woman and go towards her own place; so after a little interval, I proceeded down the range to Lucy’s hut.


Thinks I, as Lucy has fallen out with the old woman, and as she was much excited, she might let out something concerning the boys that would be of use to me. So I worked round and came up to the hut as if I had come straight up the gully, quite unconcernedly. When I got to the hut Lucy was as calm as a mouse. She asked me with a doubtful look in her eye, if I had come up the gully? I told her I had, and that on my way I fancied I heard some one cooeying. I said this, because when Lucy left the old woman she roared out what she had to say as loudly as she could — to give the poor old woman “fits”. But Lucy told me it was the old woman who was shouting at her, and bullying her, and refused to let her get her horse out of the paddock. Ahem! says I to myself. Lucy said she was glad I had come, and asked me to protect her while she went and got the horse out of the paddock. I agreed, and went up with her; but while she was getting the horse Mrs. Connell never came out to prevent her. I expect she had had quite enough of Lucy. I went down to the hut again with her, and was going inside when Lucy stopped me. Of course that made me suspicious, and I was about to force the door when she told me Mrs. John Connell was in her confinement. With this I let her go in alone, but I had a peep “on the quiet” to satisfy myself. There was no one in the hut but Mrs. John Connell, so Lucy told me the truth this time. She asked me which way I was going, and if I was going to Mick Connell’s way, because, if I was, she would go with me.


Lucy had never been so civil to me before. She generally called me all the b— dogs she could think of, and she called sergeant B. the same. In fact, we had to keep our hands on our revolvers when we searched her hut, as we did at all hours of the night. But this agreeableness on Lucy’s part promised better, so I went with her to Mick Connell’s. Here I tried to make her drunk, but she would only take port wine. With the boys she would drink either rum or brandy, but she was too “fly” with me. She had some gold rings, a gold watch, and gold guard which Tom Connell gave her — all stolen — but I never could find them on her, though she gave me an excellent chance; for while I was pretending to look and praise a brooch she wore, she took a gold-scarf pin out of my comforter, and planted it somewhere about her. I could not find it,and did not like parting with it, as it was a keepsake. But I let her keep it as it would probably give me a chance of finding something else about her. But it was no use. She was too “fly” for me. Mrs. Connell saw her with it and asked her how she came by it. Lucy said I gave it to her.


At this time Mrs. Connell was getting sick of Lucy and the boys, and began to wish they were captured. Her anguish of mind must have been great when she saw the headlong course her sons were pursuing. For all this, and no matter how bad they were, the poor old woman had still a mother’s love for them. I often pitied her, for at the bottom she was a good old woman, and it was but natural for her to do a great deal to save her sons. But now she was getting sick and heart broken, so she told one of our chaps something, but seeing this pin with Lucy she spoke about it, and I had to go and demand it from her. She wore the rings Tom had given her every day, but the police could never find them on her. Everyone else could see her wear them but the police.

After I got to Mick Connell’s with Lucy I had a long yarn about the boys. She was very shy at first, but answered me at last, and told me she would follow any man until she had taken his life that would shoot her Tom Connell. She said Pat Connell was also a “plum”, but she didn’t think much of the Clarkes. I promised to screen Tom Connell if she would put me on the Clarkes, and she said she would; so after a while we parted.


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Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Friday 25 October 1867, page 6





Shortly after this we took Pat Connell up the gully for horse stealing, and another man for cattle duffing. B., and the senior man with us when we took Connell, were one day in Braidwood attending court, and as I always believed “the boys” camped very often about old Clarke’s place, I determined, the first chance I had, to scour the place well. So this day, being left in charge, I took the tracker out with me and started up the gully, some five miles, and showed myself to some of the bush “telegraphs”, and made enquiries about the nearest tracks across the ranges to where some more of Clarke’s friends lived. Then I doubled about and gave them the slip, and made back to the station quietly, got my dinner, and left my rifle at home on account of its being very wet. I then made round by old Clarke’s place — that is, two miles from the station, towards Braidwood — and began scouring a thick bushy scrub that is close to the place, and which runs about a mile along the river, in some places half a mile through.

After beating about some time I came to an old camp, and found where “the boys” had slept that night, and where they had fed their horses. The place was full of tracks, and it was a long time before I found the last track out. This led towards a high scrubby range, about a mile off, so we ran them about half way up the range, to a sort of basin, and very grubby. We were going very steadily, as it was getting dusk, and as I expected they would be making back towards the house for supper.

Just as we pulled up I saw a grey horse standing about eighty yards off. I was turning my horse round to get off when he trod on a stick and the sound started “the boys”, who were sitting down about twenty yards off their horses. I did not see them then, but heard them, so I rammed the spurs in and galloped to their horses. They both sprang up equally alert and made an effort to get on their horses. Tommy Clarke had hold of the reins of his, but my coming so quick upon him startled his horse which jumped round and threw Clarke to the other side of him. Tom Connell drew his revolver at me but I told him to stand! I could not see Tommy at this moment; but I stood over Tom Connell, covering him with my revolver, till the tracker came up. When he arrived I told him to stand over Tom Connell while I took Clarke. I thought I could depend on this tracker, for he said he would stick to me, happen what would. Just as the tracker came up I saw Clarke about forty yards off, running up the range. I pursued and called upon him to stand, but he replied that he would b— soon make me stand, and he stood as if he meant mischief. He had a Colt’s revolver in each hand. As soon as he went to raise them I let go mine at him. As soon as I fired my horse began plunging mad; but every time I got a chance I fired. At the fourth shot Clarke fell, and I thought he was shot; so I stood looking at the place for a few moments, thinking about it. I could not see him on account of a low scrub which grows about four or five feet high. At length I made up to the place and was in the act of getting off my horse when I heard a stick crack up the range where I saw Clarke running for his life. I made right this time, and as soon as he saw me closeing on him he made for a tree. I could have shot him then, but the other two chambers of my revolver missed. I think I must have knocked the caps off by holding it in my hand galloping about so much. Tom Clarke turned round at me then and was coming towards me, when I put that revolver in my boot and drew the other which, as the sequel will show, was a duffer which I got from sergeant T. in the clerk’s office, Braidwood, who told me to load it there, as it was quite clean, and I loaded it, without looking at the nipples. This nearly cost me my life, for on taking it out of my boot as Clarke was approaching I presented it at him, thinking I was quite safe. Tommy sprang behind the tree again, swearing vengeance at me, if I attempted to come and take him — he seemed like a savage. I had not time to look behind to see how the tracker was getting on. I thought he was still guarding Tom Connell until I heard him behind me call out to Clarke to stand. Tommy roared out to the tracker that he’d d— soon make him stand. The tracker fired his carbine at him, but though he had a good shot he missed him. In fact the bullet came very close to me. I called on Tommy then to surrender like a man, and kept talking to him, trying to coax him, but he told me he defied me and all the traps in the district to take him alive. I could see by his manner he would never surrender, but I was trying to gain time for the tracker to come up and help me; but instead of his coming up, to my astonishment I never saw him afterwards. Whether he ran back to Tom Connell, or whether he ran away, I cannot tell. All I know is he took my cape home with him which I had thrown off at the place where we first saw Connell and Clarke.

When I found the tracker was not coming, I attempted to dismount when Tommy advanced and presented both his revolvers at me. I tried to make a shot at him but my revolver missed. I tried five barrels one after the other, but they all missed. I called on him again to surrender, but he told me he would make me surrender before many minutes, and snapped his revolver at me pretty close, and I tried the other at him, but it missed. He then sprang at me like a tiger and was close upon me before I could wheel my horse away. As I turned round there was the limb of a tree and I threw myself down the horse’s neck just as Tommy tried another barrel. The horse jumped about four feet and from my position at that moment I was as much on as off. At any other time I should have fallen off headlong in doing the same thing, but death stared at me closely. And I suppose it made me exert my utmost agility.

When Clarke missed me he made a run to get on his horse. The horses were tied round the legs with a saddle strap notched so that if you sprang on them and rammed the spurs into them, the strap would slip. I rushed at the horses and started them, but they kept jumping for about thirty yards; and so desperate was Clarke that I expected he would shoot me from behind. I heard him, but had not time to look round, for if he once caught up to me it was a case. The horses broke lose at last, and I ran them about 200 yards. While I was running them I was trying to reach my revolver but I lost all the caps but one, and that I managed to put on. So I turned and galloped back to have another shot at him, but could not see him. I did not like riding about through the scrub for I now expected he would jump up out of every bush. I saw Tom Connell on the top of the hill making round to where the horses were, so I made a charge up towards him, but there were no signs of him when I reached the place. It was getting dark, and I could scarcely see for the heavy rain. My boots were running over the tops with water; so I made back to the place where I started the horses; they heard me coming and started at full speed for Clarke’s house, and it took all I knew to head them, and keep them out of sight.


My object then, was, to make for the barracks, much disappointed, but not disheartened, and if Sergeant B. was not at home to get some stockmen. I could not keep the horses straight for home. When I turned them they made for the river and jumped in, off a bank four feet high, into very deep water before I could stop them. They went right under the water at first, and then commenced plunging; Tommy Clarke’s horse had on a new pair of saddle bags. These turned round, so that if there was anything valuable in them it is now in the Shoalhaven River. I expected both horses would have been drowned, but they swam down the river about 100 yards to an old crossing place.

As soon as I returned to the station I mounted Clarke’s horse, Mr. John Wallace mounted Tom Connell’s and one of the stockmen mine, B. on his own. There were seven or eight of us altogether. So back we went full speed, searched Clarke’s house, but as they were not there, we went to where the encounter took place. When in the heart of this scrub we heard some one whistle in a peculiar way, like some of the bush birds, tried to imitate it, but they did not answer.


We were all riding abreast, at some little distance from each other when suddenly some of my mates galloped towards me saying, “There they are!” as two horsemen started away close to our lowest man on the range, who happened to be a half-cast. Those below could have shot one of them instead of turning towards me. I heard the direction the horses were gallopping, so rammed in the spurs, but I did not do this a second time, for I went like a flash of lightning over trees, logs, limbs, and every thing that came in the way. I could not hold my horse and went on for about a mile; was close up to them once, but could not see to fire. It was as dark as pitch. I could not see the horse’s head at times. All at once I lost the sound of them and pulled up, but could hear no sound, either of my mates or any one else. I waited for ten minutes, and then signalled for my mates, but the beating of my own heart was the only sound I heard. After beating about for some time I came across my mates, and we then went home and reported this affair officially to head-quarters.

When we got home George, the tracker, was there. He said when I fired the first shot at Clarke, his horse began to buck, and Tom Connell got away. He then got off, tied his horse to a tree, and was coming to my assistance, but when he fired his carbine at Clarke his horse broke loose again and he ran to stop him. When he came back to the place I had gone. He was riding a colt and a buck-jumper. I found the horse next day, saddle and all.

This state of things began to nettle the other chaps who were out night and day but could never come across “the boys.”


Tommy Clarke and his mate then went up to Michalago and stuck-up the post-office and store, and took two racehorses, saddles and bridles. If a stranger had come across Tommy Clarke and Tom Connell at this period the first thing that would have struck him in their appearance would be, that they were two squatters, sitting down to have a smoke and a nobbler. Tommy was dressed in a suit of grey tweed, well made. He looked anything but a bushranger.

Tom Connell was also dressed well that day, but he always had the cut of a bushman about him. Clarke’s turn out was complete. He had a beautiful brown horse of the Barebone breed, and the prettiest saddle I ever saw. In fact his turnout was as graceful and complete as that of any gentleman in Sydney.

Connell’s was not so good. He had a horse the property of Mr. Smith of Jinden. After some time Smith came down in a great fuss and claimed this horse of Connell’s, and took out a warrant for him. Now it seems Pat Connell borrowed this horse and gave him to Clarke to ride; but as he did not return it, and as things were beginning to look queer, Smith took out the warrant to save himself. I met Smith coming from Braidwood and he told me he had taken out a warrant for Pat for horse-stealing, but to let no one know till he was taken, as the police could take him easily before he knew he was “wanted”. This was agreed upon. Smith passed the barracks on his way home, and on the way met Pat Connell, about six miles beyond. So they rode together to Mick Connell’s, fed their horses, and got their dinner — Smith telling him to look out as there was a warrant out for him. They then went together somewhere, but Smith afterwards went home, while Pat took the bush and joined his brother Tom and Tommy Clarke.


From this period onward robberies were committed almost daily, and the people were becoming exasperated. Our party were out every day, and every other night, but we could see nothing of them. We would start and ride away, sometimes on tracks close on them, but it was all useless, we could never see them. Instead of picking our ground so as to make no noise we would blunder over everything that came in our road, but the “boys” would not do business in that way. They would ride to some grassy flat where the horses would not make a noise, and in such a manner as to enable them to hear any one approaching before they came too close; and thus they managed to elude our vigilance. As the country up there is all mountains and sudden ranges, generally covered with short, thick, forest oak scrub, and narrow boggy creeks, more of the nature of swamps, the utmost caution in riding ought to have been observed. Now, men brought up in the bush, like the Jingera people, could tell the meaning of the least noise. They could tell without seeing what it was. Many times these three bushrangers have been near a party of police and stood to let the police pass unmolested. Then they would turn sometimes and follow the police all day, and watch their “little game.” They had thus an opportunity of seeing where the police went to, and how they worked, and so managed their own movements accordingly. If I had had with me another native trooper that had any bush experience, I could have taken them before any serious harm was done. But it was not to be so. I was merely a trooper, and it was my duty to obey. If I could do ever so much, or knew ever so much, my superior officer, though a new inexperienced hand, was paid to know more. I could never reason with him. Tell him what I know, he knew better, and so things went on, and so crime went on, getting worse and worse every day. The bushrangers were getting more daring, the police more impotent, the people disgusted.


Shortly after this Sergeant B. went into Braidwood for something, and I was at home getting ready to go* up the gully, when young Connell came galloping up to the station reporting that his father’s store at Stoney Creek was stuck up, and a lot of goods taken away. I and Mr. John Wallace and the tracker started, post haste, to Stoney Creek, and observed where the store had been broken into. It rather puzzled me to understand this move. To think it possible that Pat Connell should stick up his brother, or that Clarke would stick up his uncle, was a little bit too strong for me. Mick Connell was in Braidwood, and his wife could only describe but not swear to any of the stolen property. Of course she did describe it all. Well, the property was all found! Before I got there it bad been taken about a quarter of a mile down to the bend of the river the junction of Stoney Creek and the Shoalhaven. The goods were all there except some socks and a comforter. I took a description of this property, and gave it up, Mr. Wallace being witness. I had a suspicion these goods were not right, but I was laughed at when I expressed my suspicions at the police barracks. I said I believed the goods were part of the stolen property from the Foxlow station, taken to Mick Connell’s to be sold again. I was asked if I was mad to think that a man so highly respectable and well off as Mick Connell was going to throw a chance away? I believe then, as I do now, that I was right in my conjectures.

Well, we picked up the tracks and ran some of them for seven or eight miles up the range between the river and the gully; then the tracks turned and went down the range the other way, till within a mile of old John Connell’s where they scattered, one going towards the house, the others going up the range again. All at once I heard a low whistle from John Wallace who was motioning me to look towards the creek, where I saw John Connell cantering up a little gully, with a tin ”billy” on his arm, and a “swag” in front of him. He had been to the hut for grub. The tracker was on the colt still, and he was done up. I made a start to cross the creek, but could not go very fast as I ran foul of a number of rooks, and my horse went all roads at once, but once over the creek my efforts were made to overtake John Wallace who had met with a more favourable crossing place higher up. When I had got up to him two more men came out from behind a spur of the ridge and joined John Connell, and handed him a gun. They then raced for the scrub which was about 400 yards up the range.


We rammed in the spurs and flew after them in pursuit. As Tommy Clarke was turning in his saddle to fire, I fired at him. He was just galloping under an oak tree; the bullet cut the bush and left it sticking on his hat. His friend told me afterwards that my bullet took the button off his hat; the button was half off previously, and sticking up. I threw the rifle strap across my shoulder and drew my revolver. I had my fire arms clean and in order this time, and made a dash in the scrub after them. You could hear the limbs and sticks cracking like pistol shots. Before proceeding far I heard a shout. My mate’s horse had stood with him, and he called, thinking I should be murdered by proceeding alone, which was very likely. The tracker, George, could not face his horse up the range at all; he was completely done up. I went on for about half a mile further but could not hear or see anything of them, and it occurred to me that I was doing wrong by leaving my mate alone, with only one revolver, for at this time they had sworn to shoot John Wallace. I therefore returned and we went to where Clarke and Tom Connell had come out. We there got two horses they had been riding, for the saddle marks were quite wet; in fact these horses were pretty well done up. If we had been half an hour sooner we should have caught them on these animals, which were racing ponies, belonging to Mr. Hyland near Araluen. I put the tracker on one of these horses and we started for the barracks, for it was no use then following “the boys” with the horses we had, or rather the horses they now had, for I had, myself, as good an old screw as could be desired; but one was of no use against three, and they were all well armed with guns and revolvers.

We had not left our horse behind for more than ten minutes when “the boys” came down, from the hill and cut his throat. They must have caught him first and blind-folded him then hit him on the head with a riverstone, then when he fell,they cut his throat. At any rate, I found him the next day dead, with his skull smashed in, and his throat cut.


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