A. L. (Arthur Lincoln) Haydon.

The trooper police of Australia; a record of mounted police work in the commonwealth from the earliest days of settlement to the present time online

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Online LibraryA. L. (Arthur Lincoln) HaydonThe trooper police of Australia; a record of mounted police work in the commonwealth from the earliest days of settlement to the present time → online text (page 12 of 32)
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bushrangers and a sequel Police caught napping Trooper Button's
pluck Trooper Burns Four to one A bushranger shot Medals
awarded Raid on Bathurst Police blunders The system at fault
Government action Police reforms instituted.

SIR FREDERICK POTTINGER was not the only police
officer who had a personal encounter with Gardiner
and members of his gang. Not very long after the gold
escort robbery a party of the bushrangers appeared at
Pudman Creek, where they " bailed up " Mr. Dwyer, store-
keeper ; and at Blakeney Creek, where they similarly treated a
Mr. Rudif. The band are reported as having been armed
each with two revolvers and a gun. They represented
themselves as " Gardiner's Flying Squadron."

When the bushrangers had taken toll and ridden off, the
discomfited storekeepers apprised the police at Yass, the
nearest point, whence word was passed on to Goulburn,
sixty miles farther along the Southern Road. At this latter
town was the late Inspector Patrick Brennan. On receipt of
the intelligence he and a trooper saddled up and started to
get on the trail of the thieves. Riding direct to Yass they
reached the house of a Mr. Phillips at nightfall and stabled



their horses while they went inside. Within less than half
an hour Mr. Phillips and his guests were enjoying the un-
usual experience of being " stuck up," for two bushrangers
had reined up at the door with a summons to the inmates
to surrender.

It was a veritable case of catching a tartar. The In-
spector and his assistant dashed out, revolver in hand, and
called on the surprised bandits to yield in their turn. In a
flash one of the men fired, hitting Brennan in the left shoul-
der, but the officer was quick to respond and his assailant
dropped his gun with an oath as a bullet struck his right arm.
While the wounded bushranger leapt into the bush to make a
bolt for it, pursued by the trooper, Brennan shot the horse of
the other man, and closed with him in a desperate struggle.
After being badly knocked about the head with the butt of a
revolver the Inspector gained the upper hand and dis-
armed his opponent. To his gratification, the prisoner
proved to be one Sedwicker, a well-known criminal wanted
on several counts, and clearly one of those who had robbed
Mr. Dwyer. Some of the stolen property, saddles, guns and
revolvers, was found in the possession of himself and his mate,
whom the trooper soon brought back in triumph.

To return to Gardiner, the efforts of the mounted police
to hunt him down were unceasing, but the tactics of the
bushranger leader constantly outwitted them. By dividing
his forces Gardiner kept the troopers busily engaged in two
separate districts at the same time, so that some confusion as
to his movements arose. It was openly stated that he used
the newest members of his band, the " neophytes," to decoy
the police by making a demonstration at some point ; then,
when the troopers had been called out, Gardiner and
his " men-at-arms," as the older hands were styled, would



descend on the diggings or the township to make their haul.
This plan was worked successfully many times, at Lambing
Flat and other places, and in letters to the press Gardiner
taunted the police with the ease with which they fell into
his trap. That he was well served, also, by " bush tele-
graphs," is shown by a newspaper of that date. Says the

" About three or four months ago the [police] patrol were
on the Bland Plains (near the Abercrombie River) in pursuit
of some well-known desperadoes, who they knew were not
many miles off, and they called at a slightly suspected sta-
tion. Being unsuccessful they proceeded to the next station,
the residence of a truly loyal man. He gave the officer in
command all the information in his power, but while doing
so he suddenly exclaimed : ' Haste, or you'll be too late : for,

by Jove, there goes the " telegram " from Mr. 's place,

you passed last ! ' The officer looked in the direction pointed
out, and there saw straight across one of the highest ranges
at a stretching gallop, a finely mounted youth. No time
was lost by the patrol, but when they got to their destination
they found the residents calmly waiting their arrival, having
been evidently on the look-out for some time. Of course,
everything was found correct and square, so that the police
had to return sadder, but in slightly one sense (i.e. bush
telegraphy), wiser men."

There was reason to believe that the organisation of
this service was so thorough that every township had its
" telegram." Certain it is that throughout a wide extent of
country the bushrangers were kept fully posted as to the
movements of the police by their many friends. Such help
was forthcoming sometimes through fear of the consequences
of refusal, but often, no doubt, it was purchased. In the



bush community the majority of men had their price, and
were not loth to buy immunity for themselves. How im-
mensely this added to the difficulties of the Mounted Police
will be readily understood.

For many months the depredations of the gang continued
with few checks. Then a rumour was circulated to the
effect that Gardiner had disappeared from his old haunts,
and that the bushrangers had a new leader. Police and
public were alike incredulous at first, but for once rumour
did not lie. The " Prince of Tobymen," as he liked to sign
himself, had actually resigned from office and betaken him-
self to pastures new. At the same time Mrs. Brown, the
woman whose name had been linked with his for a year or
two, disappeared, and it was rightly conjectured that the
two had fled together.

The eventual hunting down of Gardiner was the work
of a smart Sydney detective named McGlone. This officer
learned that the bushranger was in Queensland, at the new
diggings at Apis Creek, where he had been recognised
by a man whom he had " stuck up " on a New South Wales
goldfield. Having been furnished with a warrant for arrest
and all necessary documents, McGlone left Sydney in January
1864 and sailed for Rockhampton. He was accompanied
by two policemen, Constables Pye and Wells, to neither of
whom he confided the true reason of their mission.

On arrival in Queensland the detective set to work cau-
tiously, knowing that Gardiner would be keenly suspicious
of newcomers. He and his companions, therefore, dressed
themselves as diggers and in this guise travelled slowly
along the road to the Apis Creek goldfield. It was here that
Gardiner, or Christie, as he now preferred to be known, had
settled. In partnership with a man named Craig, whom he



had picked up while travelling, and who was blissfully inno-
cent of the other's real character, he had started in business
as a publican and storekeeper, " Mrs. Christie " assisting
by serving behind the bar. In his quest for the much wanted
bushranger McGlone was favoured by no little luck. That
he was on the right trail he knew by meeting several faces
that he remembered having seen in the Lachlan district,
faces of men who were known to be " in " with Gardiner.
But how close he was to the latter himself he little guessed.

The three policemen pitched their camp within a stone's
throw of the new public-house, and in due time McGlone
took a stroll round to prospect. To his astonishment
the first individual he encountered was Gardiner himself,
seated in the entrance to the house. The detective identi-
fied him at once. " Native of Goulburn, New South Wales,
32 years of age, 5 feet 8| inches high, a labourer, dark sallow
complexion, black hair, brown eyes, small raised scar in left
eyebrow, small scar on right chin, scar on knuckle of right
forefinger, short finger-nails, mark on temple from a wound
by pistol ball or whip " : so ran the published description
which he knew by heart. Whether Gardiner at the time still
wore the moustache and beard that he affected during his
raids is not stated. Our portrait depicts him as he was in
later years, after serving his term of imprisonment.
p*i McGlone in his account of the capture tells how he invited
Gardiner into the house to have a drink, and how convinced
he was that the other had no suspicion that he was being
tracked. Afterwards the detective explained the situation
to his two assistants, and then went off to secure the help
of Lieutenant Brown, of the Queensland Native Mounted
Police, who was in the neighbourhood. The utmost care was
taken to prevent any hitch in their plans. As arranged,


Brown and his black troopers came sauntering by the house
at the moment that the pseudo-diggers were preparing to
strike camp. Gardiner was skilfully engaged in conversa-
tion and then, at a signal, he was seized and thrown to the
ground. The native police meanwhile covered those who
were spectators of the scene, to prevent any attempt at
rescue. There was no occasion for force, however. The
surprise had been complete. With his prisoner McGlone set
off for Rockhampton, where his warrant obtained Gardiner's
remand to Sydney. Without any delay for the influence
of the bushranger's many " friends " was to be feared the
detective hurried his man on board a steamer leaving for
New South Wales, and safely got clear.

At his first trial in Sydney, the charge being " shooting
and wounding Sergeant Middleton with intent to murder
him," Gardiner was acquitted. He was remanded to gaol,
however, as another indictment was to be preferred against
him. In the court-house satisfaction at the verdict was
openly expressed by the spectators, but the press of the
colony adopted a very different tone. On all hands the
newspapers condemned the false spirit of hero-worship that
prevailed, principally among the lower classes, and called
for Gardiner's conviction and punishment. This followed in
due course two months later, when he appeared before the
Chief Justice, Sir Alfred Stephen, to answer the charge of
robbing Messrs. Horsington and Hewitt " under arms,"
and that of wounding Trooper Hosie " with intent to do
grievous bodily harm." On a verdict of " guilty " being
returned, Gardiner was sentenced to three terms of penal
servitude which amounted in all to thirty- two years.

Although the prison gates had now shut upon the notori-
ous bushranger, seemingly for life, the good fortune that


hacTmarked his career ^was'still to follow him. In July 1874,
after only ten years' incarceration, he was released through
a strenuous agitation on the part of his sympathisers. In
setting him free, however, the Government made it con-
ditional that he should leave the country, and in accordance
with this provision Gardiner was immediately shipped to
San Francisco. Here he spent the remainder of his days,
the proprietor of a flourishing " saloon " and, so far as is
known, an honest and law-abiding citizen.

Of the other members of the Gardiner gang those who
most claim attention are Ben Hall, John Gilbert, Jack
O'Meally and John Dunn . John Vane, who attained no little
notoriety, was a later addition to the band. In Hall the
bushrangers found a capable successor to their late chief.
At the outset of his career a well-to-do and popular squatter,
this worthy came under the suspicion of the police as an
accomplice of Gardiner. Hall himself always stoutly main-
tained (and with some show of reason) that he was innocent
of any such charge. When the gold escort robbery occurred
he was arrested by Sir Frederick Pottinger, who believed him
to be implicated in the affair, but the charge fell through.
Shortly after he was thrown into the company of a bush-
ranger named Daley, whom the police hotly pursued, and
in desperation Hall openly took to the road. N

One of the earliest exploits of the new leader was the
" sticking up " of Canowindra. In company with Gilbert and
O'Meally, Hall rode into the township soon after midnight
and roused the proprietor of Robinson's Hotel. Every-
one in the place having been bailed up, the household was
collected in one room, where they were invited to partake
of refreshment. This little company was increased after
daylight by several drovers who were brought in by Gilbert.



Then three gentlemen arrived at the hotel in a buggy, these
being similarly made prisoners. But, though they had so
far found little in the shape of plunder, the bushrangers
treated their captives with all consideration. Dinner was
served by their orders, and, what was more surprising, it
was paid for, as were the spirits and cigars that were provided.

In the meantime, other hotels and stores were visited
and the leading citizens conducted to the temporary prison
at Robinson's Hotel. To add insult to injury, the one police-
man in the township was next hauled up and forced to act as
sentry, the three bushrangers hugely enjoying the spectacle
of the representative of the law marching solemnly to and
fro on the verandah with a musket in his hands. Two days
passed thus, the time being mostly filled with dancing and
music. At night only the women and children were, allowed
to go to bed. All the male members of the party slept in their
seats. On the third morning permission was given to the
prisoners to go on their way. Hall, Gilbert and O'Meally
then rode off, poorer in pocket than when they had arrived,
but expressing themselves very well content with their
" spree." They had demonstrated the ease with which a
whole township could be bailed up.

The liking for a little relaxation in the way of music was
a not uncommon characteristic of the bushrangers of the
sixties. Some of the gang were themselves no mean per-
formers on the piano, and could sing a good song. One of
Gardiner's followers, having stuck up a station, compelled
the daughter of the house to play his accompaniment, while
with unconscious humour he regaled his host with a render-
ing of " Ever of thee ! " Captain Melville, the Victorian
celebrity, was also noted among the fraternity for his musical
accomplishments .



A story which bears on this subject and relates to this
period has an amusing as well as a tragic side to it. A
certain wealthy squatter once gave a large dance at his
station. While the festivities were at their height three
young fellows of the party slipped away unobserved, to
present themselves soon after in the doorway of the ball-
room with blackened faces and revolvers. At the sight of
the roughly dressed, ominous figures a silence fell on the
company, the ladies shrinking timidly to the wall. " Hands
up ! " came the stern order from the leader of the trio, but,
not wishing to carry the joke too far, he and his companions
laughingly revealed their identity.

Every one joined in the merriment and the dance pro-
ceeded. It had been a good joke, even if a little in bad taste.
About an hour later there came another interruption of a
like kind. When two bearded and masked men appeared
with levelled revolvers and a command to " Hands up ! "
as before, no one realised that anything serious was amiss.
" It's those boys again," said one voice. A gentleman who
was near the door tried to pull off one of the masks, but he
was met by a blow and a volley of curses that left little doubt
as to the real nature of the intruders.

" Turn out your pockets, and no blank fooling ! " said
one of the bushrangers. And as the scared dancers stood in
rows along the walls he and his mate made a goodly haul of
cash and jewellery. There was no nonsense this time ; the
robbers were the genuine article. After they had collected
all the portable property the two ruffians ordered refresh-
ments to be brought them, while some of the ladies played
and sang. Then, with polite thanks for their entertainment,
they withdrew and rode off into the darkness.

To hold the police up to contempt whenever possible was


another delight of the bushrangers. In one instance that is
recorded they caught a sergeant and two mounted troopers
napping. One of the latter was pounced upon in the bush,
where he was chasing a runaway horse, and was promptly
tied to a tree. The sergeant and other trooper were surprised
in a hut, which was affording them a temporary rest, and
made prisoners without difficulty. The policemen then
had the mortification to see the rascals coolly appropriate
their carbines, revolvers and even handcuffs, being left help-
less and without any alternative but to return to their
quarters. It was little wonder that when such occurrences
were made known (and the bushrangers took good care that
this was done) the inefficacy of the police was the subject
of general comment. On the face of it the gentlemen of the
road were having the best of the game. And yet this much
must be said for the troopers. By the shortsighted policy
of the authorities they were poorly horsed and poorly armed.
However courageous they might be and there were cer-
tainly few cowards among them they had small chance of
success against men whose equipment was superior to theirs
at all points.

That a mounted policeman could show pluck in the face
of fire, despite repeated taunts to the contrary, was evidenced
on many occasions. Take the case of Trooj er Sutton of
the Bathurst detachment. A raid had been made upon
some stables near the town, and one or two valuable horses
stolen. As pursuit had proved unavailing, a substantial
reward was offered for information leading to the apprehen-
sion of the offenders, while steps were taken to guard against
the police plans becoming public. Bush telegraphs were to
be caught at all costs and made examples of. To this end
Superintendent Morrissett of Bathurst, and a small party,



watched the country closely for some days. In the end they
were successful in arresting three men who were strongly
suspected of being in league with the bushrangers.

With his prisoners the Superintendent proceeded to
Bathurst by coach, having two other police officers inside
with him. Trooper Sutton rode outside as escort. A few
miles along the road from Carcoar a not unexpected rescue
was attempted. Three bushrangers, afterwards identified
as Gilbert, O'Meally and Vane, stopped the coach and
demanded the release of the prisoners. The police promptly
jumped out to show fight, being met with a discharge from
the others' guns. They were on the point of firing back
when Trooper Sutton, who had dropped a little way behind
on the road, suddenly came up at a gallop and charged
straight at the gang. His revolver rang out twice and he was
raising it for a third shot when a bullet struck his arm and
placed him hors de combat. The trooper thereupon rode
back towards the coach to rejoin his comrades, and was
probably never nearer certain death than at that moment.
One of the shots aimed at him as he turned sent his hat
flying from his head.

To make a long story short, the fire of the police became
too hot for the bushrangers and they made off with their
object unattained. The coach then continued on its way,
Sutton being dropped at a wayside inn, as loss of blood had
made him too weak to stand the journey. The plucky
trooper was found to have been badly wounded, but under
medical treatment he recovered to spend many useful years
in the force.

The brave stand made by Trooper Burns while on duty
with the Araluen gold escort is also worth recording. This
was in 1865, towards the end of Ben Hall's career. As the



light spring cart drove along the road from the diggings to
Major's Creek Mount and was ascending the incline it was
fired upon by four bushrangers who had taken cover among
the trees. A trooper named Kelly was wounded fatally at
the first discharge and dropped from his horse. Burns was
driving at the time. Jumping down he coolly placed a stone
behind the wheel of the vehicle, and then opened fire upon
the attacking party. His companion on the box seat, a
Mr. Blatchford, Justice of the Peace, ran down the hill to a
hotel they had just passed to summon help, while two other
troopers in the escort made a detour to attack the bush-
rangers in the rear.

For the time Burns was left alone to bear the brunt of
the fighting. Opposed to him were Hall, Gilbert and two
more of the gang, all well armed. Kneeling behind the
cart the trooper held them at bay successfully, luckily escap-
ing being hit by their bullets, until suddenly the other
troopers brought their rifles to bear on the party. The fire
was now becoming too hot for the bushrangers, and after a
few more shots they gave up the attempt and disappeared.
For this smart piece of work Trooper Burns received a
substantial reward.

Another instance in which the bushrangers came badly
off occurred just after the affair at Reedy Creek, near Mudgee,
when the Cassilis mail was stuck up. The next day, while a
Mr. Robert Lowe was driving along the Mudgee road with
his servant, Hugh McKenzie, they were ordered to stand.
Mr. Lowe had a loaded gun in his buggy and stooping down
quickly he seized it and fired at the two men who barred the
road. His shot told, for as the highwaymen turned to take
cover one of them fell to the ground. The other then put
spurs to his horse and galloped off. Subsequently this man



was pursued by Sergeant Cleary of the Mounted Police and
two black trackers, being caught at Coonamble, over two
hundred miles away. The man who was shot died almost
immediately. He proved to be a desperate character named
Heather, who had committed a highway robbery only half
an hour previously. At the inquest the jury returned a
verdict of justifiable homicide, and Mr. Lowe afterwards had
the gratification of receiving a gold medal from the Govern-
ment for his act.

The presentation of medals for resisting and capturing
bushrangers, it may be noted here, was instituted in 1875.
Gold medals were awarded to private individuals who had
distinguished themselves, and silver ones to members of the
constabulary. Each medal bore on one side the head of the
Queen, surrounded by the words " The Colony of New South
Wales " ; on the reverse was the Australian coat of arms,
surmounting the recipient's name which was encircled by a
floral wreath. Round this design was inscribed " Granted
for gallant and faithful services." Six such gold medals
were given to civilians, a seventh being presented to the
widow of Captain McLerie, who was Inspector-General of
Police between 1856 and 1874, in recognition of her husband's
great services. The Mounted Police who were decorated
were Sergeant John Middleton, who arrested Gardiner at
Fogg's hut, as has been related, and Sergeant A. B. Walker,
whose encounter with Captain Thunderbolt has yet to be
told. A third silver medal was bestowed upon an innkeeper
of Pine Ridge, named Beauvais, who had a thrilling fight
with the bushranger Rutherford and killed his assailant.

Of the numerous daring exploits which signalised Ben
Hall's leadership of the " Gardiner gang " space will only
permit brief enumeration. Scarcely a day went by without



some outrage being reported. Next to the ' ' sticking up " of
Canowindra, perhaps the most notable feat was the raid
upon Bathurst. This was the outcome of a remark made
by a resident of that town whom Hall had robbed in open
daylight in the bush. " You daren't come to Bathurst ! "
said that gentleman. " You'll see," had been Hall's reply.

No significance was apparently attached to this brief
conversation, for no one in Bathurst dreamed that any bush-
ranger would be bold enough to show his face in the town.
But Hall fully intended to give the public another surprise.
Several weeks later a raid was made on Caloola, a township
on the old Lachlan road to the south of Bathurst, and, as
was anticipated, a strong body of troopers under Superin-
tendent Morrissett of Bathurst set out in pursuit of the gang.
That it was merely a ruse to lure them out into the hills was
not suspected by the police, yet such was the case. A few
hours after they had left down came the bushrangers to carry
out Hall's half-veiled threat.

The raiders were five in number : Hall, Vane, Gilbert,
O'Meally and Burke. Riding quietly into the town they
visited one or two shops without exciting any comment,
Vane being detached to watch the main road. At a jeweller's
store, however, where they proceeded to take toll an alarm
was given and the quartette mounted their horses and
galloped off. There was now considerable commotion in
that quarter of the town, and every trooper left in the

Online LibraryA. L. (Arthur Lincoln) HaydonThe trooper police of Australia; a record of mounted police work in the commonwealth from the earliest days of settlement to the present time → online text (page 12 of 32)