The official abridged version:
Extract from the Book:
THE UNFINISHED REVOLUTION
When trooper William Revell of the Mounted 40th goes after one pike-bearing digger, Thomas Dignum – born and bred in Sydney – who to this point had also 'fought like a tiger [and] repented not of having put on stretchers a couple of Redcoats,' the Australian suddenly turns on Revell and thrusts his pike at him. Though it misses, the pike strikes home into a Redcoat mate beside him, whereupon the enraged Revell instantly strikes the Australian on the head with his sword. Dignum goes down with a heavy wound to his skull.
Some 20 minutes after the first shots, however, as more diggers fall and others flee, the worst of the fighting is over. And yet, even after it is clear that the resistance of the diggers has ceased, that the government forces have won the day, still the killing does not stop. A terrible kind of madness appears to have overtaken some of the uniformed men and they continue their murdering and maiming, hunting down every digger they can see, whether or not he has even been involved in any of the hostilities. The worst of the murderers, cruel revenge for the humiliations they have suffered in recent times.
By now, many of those diggers not killed in the initial assault or its aftermath have taken refuge back in their tents, but this presents no problem for the conquering forces. As it happens, Martin and Anne Diamond have not been remotely involved in the uprising beyond having had their place sequested for some crucial meetings of the Council for the Defence. Their whole presence within the Stockade is no more than a geographical quirk, as the boundaries of the Stockade left their half-in and half-out of it. None of this registers on the soldiers and troopers. As the couple run out of their tent to try and get to the relative safety of the bush, Martin stumbles and falls flat on his face. He attempts to rise when the first soldier reaches him and triumphantly impales him in the back with his bayonet, and the soldier is soon joined by police, who slash at him with their swords. Diamond is dead within a minute, all of it in front of his screaming wife.
There must be a lot of others in those tents? Well then, says Sub-Inspector Carter, 'Set the tents on fire!
The order is instantly obeyed as Carter's foot police take the cool ends of some burning logs and sticks from one of the fires in the middle of the Stockade and run from tent to tent, setting them alight. (Oh so very strange, these British, how they love to put the torch to anything that will burn.)
One of the first tents to go down is Diamond's store, which blazes in an instant after a 'Vandemonian-looking trooper' – though this frankly describes most of them – sets fire to the northern end and lets the rising wind from that very direction take care of the rest. In short order, dozens of tents are ablaze, along with the wounded, who are burnt alive. As Carboni would recall, 'The howling and yelling was horrible.'
That will bring them out once more.
And so it does, as the fires soon illuminate screaming, coughing figures rushing out into the open air. Who knows if they have been involved in the rebellion or not? It doesn't matter anymore. The butchering goes on.
Up on the courthouse verandah back at the camp, Samuel Huyghue and other officials see the flames and smoke billowing from the Stockade with some relief. The soldiers have clearly made it inside and are now destroying whatever it is they have found.
As other diggers and their families rush from their tents, the troopers inevitably knock the men down and let the screaming women and children go where they will. If the men resist and try to fight back, their end comes quickly. If they submit, they are immediately arrested and dragged away. When one group of diggers falls back to some tents near the blacksmith's workshop, those tents are quickly torched, smoking the rebels out, and another furious outbreak of violence takes place – hand to hand, pike to bayonet, dirty rebel to loyal servant of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. This group of diggers fights well, but the weight of numbers against them is so strong that it is not long before they are quelled.
'When we were in that helpless state, an unconditional surrender ought to have been proposed to us,' digger John Lynch would later recall. 'It would have been accepted, and the future spared many bitter memories. But the spirit of revenge was uppermost, and revelled in a fierce saturnalia of carnage. More than half the loss of life took place after resistance had ceased. A few, who surrendered on challenge – and very few got the chance – were placed under guard; but as the wantonness of destruction on the one side grew with hopelessness of resistance on the other, the guards had enough to do to save their charges from being shot or hacked to pieces'.
Still not content that they have wrought enough destruction, many of the Redcoats now decided to spread the inferno to other tents well outside the Stockade walls. After all, they took fire from some treasonous diggers in those canvas caves. They must be put to the torch also.
In all the madness, atrocities abound. One 23-year-old digger, Henry Powell, has had nothing to do with anything – he had come over the day before from Creswick to visit a friend. Curious about the shots and screams, he has just ventured from his friend's tent and is in the open when soldiers on horseback come roaring over the rise. At the first sight of them, Powell realises the danger he is in and starts to run, something that automatically makes the police – the scent of victory in their nostrils – pursue him hard and bring him down. All is chaos and quick-fire, but at least Powell recognises one of the horsemen, a young fellow called Arthur Akehurst – a Clerk of the Peace, usually seen in the Ballarat courthouse inside the Camp – notable for his fair complexion and reddish hair.
Not only is this no time for pleasantries, but Akehurst, who has been sworn in as a special constable just that morning, is violently aggressive from the first.
'Stand up in the Queen's name, you bastard,' he says.
'Very good, sir,' the frightened Powell replies, now with as many as 30 troopers surrounding him. 'Very well, gentleman, don't be alarmed, there are plenty of you.
There is no fight in him at all – just fear and the earners hope that he will not be hurt. Alas, with nary another word, Akehurst takes his three-and-a-half-foot sword and strikes him a fearful blow on the head.
Powell first falls down, then gets up, bleeding, only to have one of the troopers now fire into him and shout, 'There, you bugger, that shows you!
Even as the young man screams for help, the other troopers take their horses back and forth over him, their hooves inflicting cruel damage. When he again tries to rise, they first fire pistols and then slash viciously at him with their swords, and again he falls. Thomas Pierson would write of such acts in his diary, 'It was a most cowardly disgraceful Butchery, worthy only of such scamps as those who instigated it.
In their own tent inside the Stockade, Matthew Faulds and his heavily pregnant wife, Mary, cower in terror. Mary is due to give birth at any moment, fleeing is out of the question, and all Matthew can do is have her lie on her back, roll two logs either side of her for protection and put a blanket over her as they pray for a miracle. A mounted trooper suddenly slashes open the tent, the flooding light revealing the situation. He turned and leaves them be. Their daughter, Adeliza, is born not long afterwards.
Ah, but there are many more atrocities to come, as recorded by Samuel Lazarus: 'Another man, a considerable distance from the Stockade . . . went out of his tent in his shirt and drawers and seeing the savage butchery going on cried out in terror to a trooper galloping by, “For God's sake don't kill my wife and children,” his prayer may as well have been addressed to a devil. He was shot dead on his own threshold. Not far away and only shortly afterwards, former Ballarat Times and Melbourne Morning Herald correspondent Frank Hasleham turned digger and part-time reporter (he provides information to the current Geelong Advertiser correspondent) is trying to find a safe place away from the danger of the Stockade. He happens upon a quiet gully when he looks up to see three horsemen heading his way.
'One of them,' he would later recount, ' who rode considerably ahead of the other two arrived within hailing distance, [and] he hailed me as a friend.
The trooper now addresses him, asking pleasantly,'Do you wish to join our force?'
'No,' Hasleham replies a little uncertainly, surprised by the question. 'I am unarmed, and in a weak state of health. I hope this madness with the diggers will soon be over.'
Ah, but there is some madness yet to go: at a distance of just four paces, the trooper raises his pistol, points at Haslehham's breast and shoots.
Hasleham falls hard, bleeding heavily. The trooper isn't done, however. Dismounting, he handcuffs the innocent man, who lies there for the next 'two hours, bleeding from a wound in his breast, until his friends send for a blacksmith who forces off the handcuffs with a hammer and cold chisel'.
But the slaughter is still not over, as there remain many other targets for the soldiers to go after. The soldiers, as recorded by Captain Pasley, 'hated the insurgents . . . for having wounded a drummer boy, and dangerously wounded Captain Wise, [and] were very anxious to kill the prisoners and it was with great difficulty, that they were restrained by the offices from doing so'.
When Pasley comes across a party of prisoners who are about to be bayoneted by their guards, he takes out his revolver and declares, 'I will shoot the first man who injuries a digger who has surrendered.'
All around him are scenes that no man who believes in a just God should ever have to witness – much of it powered by the devil in the dynamic between victor and vanquished. And just as many of the police have enjoyed boosting their income by purloining a good chunk of the fines levied on the diggers when they were alive, so now do many of them loot the bodies of the dead. And not just the police, for Redcoats, too, rifle through the corpses and the prisoners, taking everything they can get as they 'search' for hidden weaponry – from pound notes to small collections of gold. One wounded rebel even has two Redcoats kneeling on his chest, holding him down, while another goes through his pockets.
Finally, however, one of the officers has had enough and gives a sharp command to his soldiers, who instantly obey. Taking their pistols from their holsters, they clear the Stockade – under pain of being shot on the spot – of everyone bar the prisoners, the dead and the dying.