Wednesday, 17 December 2014

BUSHRANGER; - those who abandoned social rights and privileges to take up "robbery under arms" as a way of life, using the bush as their base.

From the 1850’s to the 1880’s bushranging was at its height in Australia akin to America’s wild-west. Easy money was the go on the end of a gun.  Desperadoes such as the likes of Jesse James, Butch Cassidy, Billy the Kid etc. unknowingly followed in the footsteps of Australia’s Ben Hall, Frank Gardiner, Johnny Gilbert, John O'Meally, Daniel Morgan, Captain Thunderbolt etc. and later Jesse James contemporary, Ned Kelly. Ben Hall had his own Robert (Bob) Ford - betrayed for blood money by Mick Coneley.

The diligence and persistence of the lawmen of the day such as America’s Pat Garrett, Wyatt Earp etc. and Australia’s Sir Frederick Pottinger, Inspector Davidson, Superintendent Morrisset, Sergeant Condell and Trooper William 'Billy' Dargin as well as American born Constable William Hollister. These men should be commended for their tireless efforts in hunting them down...

Australian Bushrangers - A "Shot" Above The Rest
From left to right: Henry Manns (hanged), Alex Fordyce (Sentenced to death commuted to life), John Gilbert (shot dead), Frank Gardiner (exiled to the USA), Daniel Charters (informer), John Bow (Sentenced to death commuted to life), Ben Hall (shot dead); Sitting: John O'Meally (shot dead)
"we came upon two horses hobbled in the scrub, about twelve miles from Forbes, near Billibong Creek. We watched the horses for about half-an hour, when we saw a man approach who caught the horses. He passed close by where we were standing. He caught the horses and led them away about 100 yards. This was about 10 o'clock in the evening. We did not recognise the man. He took the horses about 100 yards, and hobbled them again. Shortly after, a tracker, Billy Dargan, informed me that he heard the man he saw lead away the horses making a noise among the dead leaves, as though he was preparing a bed for himself. I then placed five of the men in my charge where we were standing, and went with sergeant Condell and Billy Dargan on the other side of the man, with the intention of attacking him in his camp should we discover, that he was Ben Hall. We could not get within 100 yards of the man, in consequence of his horse snorting at our approach. I then determined to wait until daybreak..."

Inspector James Henry Davidson, 
Police Report, Forbes, Saturday May 12th 1865

"I ran after him a considerable distance, calling on him to stand, several times, gradually gaining on him, and when within about forty yards, fired. The shot taking effect in the left shoulder, he looked around. I thought with the intention of firing at me, I put up the gun again to fire but did not. Condell and Dargin then fired two shots each which seemed to have a slight effect. The four men and Charley now showed up. Hall, seeing them, turned to the right and made for a small clump of saplings on the plain. He still had the revolver in his hand. He caught a sapling with his left hand with the intention of trying to shoot round it. This he continued to hold until he fell. At this time I noticed Hipkiss firing with a revolving rifle, the bullet from which struck Hall on the belt and cut it, his revolver falling to the ground. Hall then seemed to be badly hit and appeared to me to be about to fall. At this time the whole of the remaining shots were fired; he fell back saying “I am wounded, I am dying, shoot me dead” and after a few convulsive shudders he moved no more..."
Inspector James Henry Davidson, 
Police Report, Forbes, Saturday May 12th 1865

"not yet 25 years of age, the iron entered the soul of Ben Hall, he sought forgetfulness in reckless excitement, and joined Gilbert and O'Meally in a series of highway robberies unparalleled in the annals of New South Wales history..." 

"on examining the body, it was seen that he had received about thirty bullets, two of which passed through the brain. On his person they found three loaded revolvers, £70 in cash, three gold chains, and the miniature of a female..."

Illustrated Sydney News
Tuesday, 16 May 1865

"I suppose that four or five hundred persons visited the barracks, and I saw several females among the crowd. After the enquiry several parties availed themselves of an opportunity to get a lock of the bushranger's hair. His body was lying upon a stretcher in the south-west corner room of the building appropriated to the foot police. There was nothing forbidding in the countenance of Ben Hall, as he lay there still in death. In fact I heard the remark made several times, during the moment I was in the room, "What a handsome, face." He appeared to be a young man about twenty-eight, finely made, excellent features, lofty forehead, and fine brown hair. His whiskers and moustache were cut quite close and of a much lighter colour than the hair on his head. I heard many make the remark, "I have often seen that face somewhere, but cannot tell where." I have myself seen the face, but have no idea when and where..."

The Western Examiner 
18th May 1865

A BUSHRANGERS FUNERAL. — "The corpse of Ben Hall, after being enclosed in a coffin, remained at the police barracks until ten o'clock on Sunday morning. In the meantime, his relations had arrived from the Pinnacle, and were allowed to take charge of it. From the barracks it was removed to the residence of Mr. J. Smith Toler, undertaker, Templar street. A very handsome coffin, covered with black cloth and trimmed with guilt ornaments, was there substituted. At about two o'clock in the afternoon individuals began to collect in the neighbourhood, and soon after the face of the corpse was exposed so that those who had not seen it on Saturday, now had the privilege. A great many, availed themselves of the opportunity. When his brother's wife was turning from a last look, it is said she remarked that, "Had it not been for Ben Hall's wife he would not have been lying there." The funeral procession started for the cemetery at four o'clock and consisted of the hearse, ornamented with black plumes in profusion, and drawn by a black horse, driven by Mr. Toler. Immediately following were his brother William Hall and his wife, two or three carriages, and forty or fifty persons on foot. In this way they passed, into Lachlan street on their way to the grave. The procession turned by Jones' store and passed by the head of the north lead. Arrived at the cemetery, were about one hundred persons, who from motives of curiosity or otherwise, had collected, the coffin was taken from the hearse and placed over the grave. - A bottle of holy water was then sprinkled over it by Mr. Toler, and the burial service of the Roman Catholic Church was read by Mr. James K. Montgomery. The coffin was then lowered into the ground and covered with earth. Amongst the spectators there were between forty and fifty females, young and old."

The Newcastle Chronicle and Hunter River District News
Wednesday, 17th May 1865

"Bad as his life was, there was much that was good in him, which, with reasonable good fortune, would have led him to affluence and good repute."
-William Freame