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Desperate Fight With A Party Of Convicts ~ 1866


 


Dear Grandpa Pencil looks at early Australian development through journals, official reports and newspaper excerpts of the day. Readers should remember that these accounts are based on personal observations at the time and some have, since, been shown to be flawed.

'Desperate Fight With A Party Of Convicts' is drawn from an article in The Illustrated Sydney News: May 1866

On the morning of the 14th April, pursuant to instructions received from Sydney, the Governor of Berrima Gaol delivered to Sergeant Healy, Constables Raymond, Kilpatric, and Mitchell, for conveyance to Darlinghurst, 11 long-sentenced prisoners.

Crookwell, Smith, Berriman, Lee and Owens appear to have been in communications with each other before leaving the gaol, and to have formed an indefinite idea of attempting escape.

Previous to leaving the gaol the prisoners were deprived of two pocket knives and flint. They were then placed in Cobb's coach, and secured to a chain, stretched the full length of the vehicle.

The constables occupied seats alongside of the prisoners, and the sergeant in charge the box seat alongside the driver.

About noon the coach stopped for dinner, and the prisoners being allowed to alight enabled the ringleaders to mature their plans.

The attack was to be made simultaneously, on a given signal. When they resumed their seats in the coach, each knew the part he was to act.

They managed to secure two handcuff keys and a knife, some say they were brought from Berrima Gaol.

On reaching Bargo Brush, about 10 miles from Picton, Crookwell said, "Now boys, at them!"

The convicts, who had previously unlocked their irons, rose upon the constables and attempted to seize their arms.

Two endeavoured to drag Sergeant Healy inside the coach. In this they were thwarted by his throwing himself off the box on to the ground.

 

Constable Raymond, adopted a similar course, but Constables Mitchell and Kilpatric were held fast by their assailants.

Crookwell had the latter by the throat, and was trying to seize his rifle.

Sergeant Healy told Crookwell to drop the revolver, or he would shoot him.

Had he done so at once he would have saved the life of his comrade, for the ruffian, Crookwell immediately released Kilpatric, turned round, fired at Healy but missed him.

The ball struck Constable Raymond between the eyes.
Crookwell placed his revolver at constable Kilpatrick's breast, and pulled the trigger.

Happily the cap miss fired, and before he could do further mischief Healy seized him, and would have shot him had he not thrown up his hands and shouted for mercy.

Kilpatric then jumped from the coach, apparently injured.

Constable Mitchell successfully combated his assailants, one of whom bit his nose very severely, and might have inflicted more severe injury had he not, after repeated warnings, fired his rifle and shot a prisoner named Bland in the stomach.

The determined attitude of the police convinced the ruffians that there was no hope, and some attempted to escape into the bush.

This was speedily checked by Sergeant Healy shooting Slattery in the back, his companions surrendered at discretion, and were again secured.

Constable Raymond's body and the wounded prisoners were placed in the coach, the remainder attached to the chain, and the cortege resumed its journey.

 


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