Eureka Stockade

Sir Charles Hotham now sent up the remaining eight hundred soldiers of the Ninety-ninth Regiment, under Sir Robert Nickle and to these he added all the marines from the men-of-war and nearly all the police of the colony. They were several days on the march and only arrived when the disturbance was over.

Eureka Stockade

The diggers had formed as intrenchment, called the Eureka Stockade, and had enclosed about an acre of ground with a high slab fence. In the midst of this stronghold they proclaimed the "Republic of Victoria ", and here they were able to carry on their drilling uninhibited, under the command of the two leaders - Vern a German and Peter Lalor, the son of an Irishman. They sent out parties in every direction to gather all the arms and ammunition they could obtain and made extensive preparations for an assault ; but, imagining that the soldiers would never dream of attacking them until the arrival of Sir Robert Nickle, they kept guard but carelessly.

Surprise Attack

Captain Thomas, who commanded the troops in the camp, was determined to finish the affair by a sudden attack; and on Saturday night, whilst the diggers were amusing themselves in fancied security, he was carefully making plans. On Sunday morning, just after daybreak, when the Stockade contained only 200 men, Captain Thomas led the troops quietly forth and succeeded in approaching within 300 yards of the Stockade without being observed. The alarm was then given within, the insurgents rushed to their posts and poured a heavy volley upon the advancing soldiers, of whom about 12 fell. The attacking party wavered a moment but again became steady and fired with so calm and correct an aim that, whenever a digger showed himself, even for a moment, he was shot. Peter Lalor rose on a sand heap within the Stockade to direct his men, but immediately he fell, pierced in the shoulder by a musket ball. After the firing had lasted for twenty minutes there was a lull; and the insurgents could hear the order, "charge !" ring out clearly. Then there was an ominous rushing sound - the soldiers were for a moment seen above the palisades (fences) and immediately the conflict became hand-to-hand. The diggers took refuge in the empty claims, where some were bayoneted and others captured, whilst the victors set fire to the tents and soon afterwards retired with 125 prisoners.

Peter Lalor

A number of half burnt palisades (fences) , which had fallen on Lalor, concealed him from view; and, afterthe departure of the soldiers, he crawled forth and escaped to the ranges, where a doctor was found, who amputated his arm. The Government subsequently offered a reward of £500 for his capture ; but his friends proved true, and preserved him till the trouble was all past.

Casualities of the Eureka Stockade

The number of those who had been wounded was never exactly known, but it was found that 26 of the insurgents had died during the fight, or shortly afterwards, and in the evening the soldiers returned and buried such of the dead bodies as were still lying in the Stockade. On the following day , four soldiers who had been killed in the engagement were buried with military honours. Many of the wounded died during the course of the following month, and in particular the colony had to lament the loss of Captain Wise, of the Fortieth Regiment, who had received his death wound in the conflict.

 

 

History of Australia