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A melee at Eureka

The uprising at Eureka was drawing nearer. On this day, military forces and diggers clashed violently at the diggings near Ballarat.

29 November 1854
Published Source
Australian National Dictionary Centre, The Gold Rushes and Australian English: a resource for researchers, teachers and students, Australian National University, 2005, http://www.anu.edu.au/andc/res/aus_words/gold/index.php. Details
This material is provided by the Australian National Dictionary Centre, a joint project of the Australian National University and Oxford University Press Australia.


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BALLARAT. (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT .) [Wednesday] Nov. 29th 4, a.m. Ere many minutes the sun shall have risen on a day fraught with interest, pregnant with the destiny of Victoria, and consequently of Australasia. Yesterday evening, about six o’clock, the detachment of the 40th arrived here from Melbourne, via Geelong; on nearing the diggings they left the carts which had carried them up, and marched in with fixed bayonets along the line of road. To say the least of this it was an ill advised proceedare [sic]. Their arrival was greeted with the usual amount of Joeing, but nothing else. At seven o’clock, as I was proceeding to the complimentary dinner to Mr Tarleton, I met some thirty troopers, coming, I believe, from Melbourne via Bacchus Marsh. At the time I saw them they were receiving the usual salute (Joe, Joe), but on arriving near the new road some stones were thrown at them. When they had reached the bridge near the camp, they turned and made a charge, cutting right and left among the multitude, not only on the road, but following them among the tents. A few persons who had revolvers on them fired, and eventually hunted them to the camp. In the melee I believe several of the troopers were more or less hurt as were many diggers. Had not the troopers made off as soon as they did they would have suffered severely, as not a few of the people present had gone to fetch fire-arms, with which they soon arrived, but the troopers were gone. I understand that one trooper has had his jaw broken, and that there are many badly hurt. More than one digger bears marks of the swords of the troopers, and several have their persons and clothes cut and pierced with sabre and bullet marks. The first shot has been fired—the first blood drawn, but the end is not yet. About the same time a detachment of military were set on near Eureka; some of their arms wrested from them, and the baggage and ammunition conveyances intercepted. One man, a Captain Young (I believe an American), who had charge of some of the baggage, was cruelly beaten with sticks when trying to save it. He lies in a precarious state at Bath’s. Such are the facts which I have been able to glean since I left the dinner. They may not be correct to the letter, though I know they are substantially correct. During the dinner, just before the cloth was removed, Messrs. Reed [i.e., Resident Commissioner Rede] & Hackett [the Police Magistrate], who had come to the dinner, were called away, "owing to pressing business at the camp," and soon after Mr. Tarleton was sent for to see Young at Bath’s. Yesterday the Government had many friends here—to-day it will have fewer. Arms are being prepared all night for to-day’s use—bullets have been cast by hundreds since last evening—quiet men have been excited, and those who were already excited are now past cure. It is reported that there are orders from town to prevent any meeting to-day, as advertised for. If such be the case, then leave a space in your next for a narration of bloodshed and temporary anarchy. The spirit of resistance is abroad, the camp bristles with the bayonets of sentries, and the diggers are quietly but doggedly preparing for a solemn day if necessary. I have been about all night, and find the preparation universal. I enclose lists of land sales, &c., though for the remainder of the sale I can hardly promise that I can furnish them, owing to the overwhelming interest of other matters. If anything extraordinary happens, you may look out for a late express—be prepared for such a contingency in your columns. The Diggers’ Committee is at present sitting permanently—night and day. 6 a.m. The report of fire-arms is to be heard in all directions. Not even in the olden time—long, long ago—of the diggings was the sun hailed with such a salute. Geelong Advertiser, 30 November 1854