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2-106 (Text)

Item metadata
Speaker:
addressee author,male,Moore, George Fletcher,45
ns1:discourse_type
Narrative Discourse
Word Count :
1873
Plaint Text :
ns1:register
Private Written
ns1:texttype
Diaries
ns1:localityName
http://dbpedia.org/resource/Western_Australia
Created:
1834
Identifier
2-106
Source
Ward, 1969
pages
56-59
Document metadata
Extent:
10687
Identifier
2-106-plain.txt
Title
2-106#Text
Type
Text

2-106-plain.txt — 10 KB

File contents



Thursday - A strange rumour has reached us here that the party who went to the Murray River have fallen in with the natives there, and killed 35 of them, Captain Ellis being slightly wounded, and a soldier grazed by a spear. This is important if true. .
Saturday, Nov. 1. - Went to Perth yesterday, and got from the Governor an account of the battle of Pinjarra. They came upon the offending tribe in a position which I dare say the natives thought was most favourable for their manoeuvres, but which was turned into a complete trap for them. In the first onset, three out of five of the small party which went to reconnoitre them were unhorsed, two being wounded. The Governor himself came up with a reinforcement just in time to prevent the natives rushing in upon and slaughtering that party. The natives then fled to cross at a ford, but were met and driven back by a party which had been detached for that purpose. They tried to cross at another ford, but were met there also, when they took to the river, lying hid under the overhanging banks, and seeking opportunities of casting their spears, but they were soon placed between two fires and punished severely. The women and children were protected, and it is consolatory so know that none suffered but the daring fighting men of the very tribe that had been most hostile. The destruction of European lives and property committed by that tribe was such that they considered themselves quite our masters, and had become so emboldened that either that part of the settlement must have been abandoned or a severe example made of them. It was a painful but urgent necessity, and likely to be the most humane policy in the end. The Governor narrowly escaped a spear. Captain Ellis was struck in the temple and unhorsed. Being stunned by the blow he fell. 
Tuesday night.- Poor Captain Ellis has died in consequence of the injury he received at the time of the conflict with the natives; but it is supposed that it was from the concussion of the brain by the fall from his horse, rather than by the wound from the spear (which was very trifling), that he died.  The natives here are uneasy, thinking that we mean to take more lives in revenge.
Appended is a more detailed report of the encounter with the natives in the Pinjarrah District, to which I briefly referred the other day. I was not one of that party.
The party consisted of His Excellency Sir Jas. Stirling, Mr. Roe, Capt. Meares, and his son (Seymour), Mr. Peel, Capt. Ellis, Mr. Norcott, with five of the mounted police (one sick), Mr. Surveyor Smythe, a soldier to lead a pack horse, Mr. Peel's servant, two corporals and eight privates of H.M.'s 21st Regiment (to leave at Pinjarra) - in all, 25 persons. On the night of October 27, the party bivouacked at a place called by the natives 'Jimjam', about ten or eleven miles in a direct line E.N.E. from the mouth of the Murray, where is abundance of most luxurious feed for cattle, at a broad and deep reach of the river flowing to the N. W, and at this time perfectly fresh. After an early breakfast, the whole encampment was in motion at ten minutes before six the next morning. Steered South Eastward for Pinjarra - another place of resort for the natives of the district, and situated a little below the first ford across the river, where it was intended to establish a town on a site reserved for the purpose, and to leave half of the party, including the military, for the protection of Mr. Peel and such other settlers as that gentleman might induce to resort thither.
Crossing the ford, where the river had an average depth of 2.5 feet, and was running about 1.5 miles an hour to the north, an Easterly course was taken for the purpose of looking at the adjoining country, but the party had not proceeded more than a quarter of a mile over the undulating surface of the richest description, covered with nutritious food for cattle, when the voices of many natives were heard on the left. This being a neighbourhood much frequented by the native tribe of Kalyute, which had long been indulging in almost unchecked commission of numerous outrages and atrocious murders on the white people resident in the district, and which had hitherto succeeded in eluding the pursuit of the parties that had been searching for them since their treacherous murder of Private Nesbitt of the 21st Regiment, and the spearing of Mr. Barron only a few weeks ago - the moment was considered propitiously favorable for punishing the perpetrators of such and other diabolical acts of a similar nature, should this prove to be the offending tribe. For the purposes of ascertaining that point, His Excellency rode forward 200 or 300 yards with Messrs. Peel and Norcott, who were acquainted both with the persons of the natives and with their language, and commenced calling out and talking to them for the purpose of bringing on an interview. Their own noise wax, however, so loud and clamorous, that all other sounds appeared lost on theta, or as mere echoes.
No answer being returned, Captain Ellis, in charge of the mounted police, with Mr. Norcots, his assistant, and the remaining available men of his party, amounting to three in number were dispatched across the ford again to the left bank, where the natives were posted, to bring on the interview required.  The instant the police were observed approaching at about 200 yards distance, the natives, to the number of about 70, started on their feet, the men seized their numerous and recently made spears, and showed a formidable front, but, finding their visitors still approached, they seemed unable to stand a charge, and sullenly retreated, gradually quickening their pace until the word 'forward' from the leader of the gallant little party brought the horsemen in about half a minute dashing into the midst of them, the tame moment having discovered the wellknown features of some of the most atrocious offenders of the obnoxious tribe. One of these, celebrated for his audacity and outrage, was the first to be recognised at the distance of five or six yards from Mr. Norcott, who knew him well, and immediately called out, 'These are the fellows we want, for here's that old rascal Noonar,' - on which the savage turned round and cried with peculiar ferocity and emphasis, 'Yes, Noonar me,' and was in the act of hurling his spear at Norcott, in token of requital for the recognition, when the latter shot him dead.
The identity of the tribe being now clearly established, and the natives turning to assail their pursuers, the firing continued, and was returned by the former with spears as they retreated to the river. The first shot, and the loud shouts and yells of the natives, were sufficient signal to the party who had halted a quarter of a mile above, who immediately followed Sir James Stirling, at full speed, and arrived opposite Captain Ellis' party just as some of the natives had crossed and others were in the river. It was just the critical moment for them. Five or six rushed up the right bank, but were utterly confounded at meeting a second party of assailants, who immediately drove back those who escaped the firing. Being thus exposed to a cross fire, and having no time to rally their forces, they adopted the alternative of taking to the river, and secreting themselves amongst the roots and branches and holes on the banks, or by immersing Themselves with the face only uncovered, and ready with a spear under water, to take advantage of any one who approached within reach. Those who were sufficiently hardy or desperate to expose themselves on the offensive, or to attempt breaking through the assailants, were soon cleared off, and the remainder were gradually picked out of their concealment by the cross fire from both banks, until between 25 and 30 were left dead on the field and in the river. The others had either escaped up and down the river, or had secreted themselves too closely to be discovered except in the persons of eight women and some children, who emerged from their hiding places (where, in fact, the creatures were not concealed), on being assured of personal safety, and were detained prisoners until the determination of the fray. It is, however, very probable that more men were killed in the river, and floated down with the stream.
Notwithstanding the care which was taken not to injure the women during the skirmish, it cannot appear surprising that one and several children were killed, and one woman amongst the prisoners had received a ball through the thigh.  On finding the women were spared, and understanding the orders repeatedly issued to that effect, many of the men cried out they were of the other sex; but evidence to the contrary was too strong to admit the plea. As it appeared by this time that sufficient punishment had been inflicted on this warlike and sanguinary tribe by the destruction of about half its male population, and amongst whom were recognised, on personal examination, fifteen very old and desperate offenders, the bugle sounded to cease firing, and the divided party reassembled at the ford, where the baggage had been left in charge of four soldiers, who were also to maintain the post. Here Captain Ellis had arrived, badly wounded in the right temple, by a spear at three or four yards distance, which knocked him off his horse, and P. Heffron, a constable of the police, had received a bad spear wound above the right elbow. No surgical aid being at hand, it was not without some little difficulty the spear was extracted, and it then proved to be barbed at the distance of five inches from the point.
Having recrossed the river in good order with the baggage on three horses, the whole party formed a junction on the left bank, fully expecting the natives would return in stronger force, but in this were disappointed. After a consultation over the prisoners, it was resolved to set them free, for the purpose of fully explaining to the remnant of the tribe the cause of the chastisement which had been inflicted, and to bear a message to the effect that, if they again offered to spear white men or their cattle, or to revenge in any way the punishment which had just been inflicted on these for their numerous murders and outrages, four times the present number of men would proceed amongst them and destroy every man, woman, and child. This was perfectly understood by the captives, and they were glad to depart even under such an assurance; nor did several of their number, who were the widows, mothers and daughters of notorious offenders shot that day, evince any stronger feeling on the occasion than what arose out of their anxiety to keep themselves warm.

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