Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/88

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

Ballarat to pillage the city. Hearing that the rebellion was spreading and that the men of the other gold-fields were hastening to the relief and assistance of their Ballarat comrades, the authorities of the Government Camp decided to attack the diggers' stronghold before any of these reinforcements could arrive. Early on the morning of Sunday, December 3rd, 1854, the assault was made by the combined forces of the military and the police under the command of Colonel Thomas, of the 40th regiment. The insurgent diggers, commanded by Mr. Peter Lalor, made a brave and desperate resistance; the pikemen (an almost exclusively Irish detachment) stood their ground in double file around the enclosure and repelled several charges of cavalry; volley after volley was poured into the stockade and answered by the diggers, until their want of ammunition and comparative unpreparedness became apparent. After half-an-hour's desperate hand-to-hand fighting, the Eureka stockade was surrounded and carried by storm.

The scene that followed was of a brutal and barbarous character. The ruffianly soldiers and troopers behaved towards their discomfited opponents in the most cowardly fashion. Not content with making a large number of them prisoners, they did not scruple in their savage glee even to shoot non-combatants down in cold blood. The official list of casualties on the diggers' side reports 22 killed, 12 wounded, and 125 taken prisoners; but these figures must not be accepted as literally accurate, as many lives were sacrificed and many persons wounded in the encounter, whose names were not officially recorded. Subjoined are some of the names of the Irishmen who fell or were wounded in this first struggle for freedom on Victorian soil: