tasmania: soldiers that can’t shoot straight

The final solution down under in Tasmania….

…Sometimes they did see an aborigine- once they briefly glimpsed a party of forty. More often they mistook clumps of trees, or black swans, or the rustle of leaves, or kangaroos, for the presence of the black people. For seven weeks the Black Line struggled down the island, until halfway through November, closing upon the southeast corner, the men approached Eaglehawk Neck. Disheartened though they were, they assumed that a mass of black fugitives must be moving somewhere before them, and as the approached the peninsula they repeatedly asked along the way if the natives had passed over the neck to the trap beyond. Educated as they were to the notion of a savage horde always seething out of sight in the bush, they expected to find thousands of refugees, brought to bay at last, caught within the peninsula.

---Robert Dowling (1827 - 1886) Masters George, William and Miss Harriet Ware with the Aborigine Jamie Ware , 1856 oil on canvas---click image for source....

—Robert Dowling (1827 – 1886)
Masters George, William and Miss Harriet Ware with the Aborigine Jamie Ware , 1856
oil on canvas—click image for source….

But there was nobody there. Not a single aborigine had crossed the neck. Like ghosts, the black people had slipped through the blundering cordon, crouching in brambles while the soldiers went sweating and cursing past or scuttling away on all fours into the shadows. When the staff officers at Macquarie House made their final assessment, they found that while four British soldiers had been accidentally killed in the course of the operation, only two of the original Tasmanians had been caught. One was a small boy and the other soon escaped.

There now enters into the story a resolute evangelical, George Augustus Robinson, “The Conciliator,” whose destiny was to organize, when all else had failed, the disappearance of the Tasmanian race from the face of the earth.

Robinson was in all ways a man of his time, a Dickensian figure transplanted from Hard Times or Dombey and Son to this alien environment. He was infinitely pious, humorless, and untiring. He was an uneducated man and correspondingly dogmatic, and his bent was to redeem. ( to be continued)…

---ITEM NAME: Painting oil: MEDIUM: oil on canvas, oil on canvas,MAKER: Henry Gritten [1818 - 1873] [artist]; TITLE: ‘Main Road, New Town’ DATE: 1856---click image for source....

—ITEM NAME: Painting oil: MEDIUM: oil on canvas, oil on canvas,MAKER: Henry Gritten [1818 - 1873] [artist]; TITLE: ‘Main Road, New Town’ DATE: 1856—click image for source….


(see link at end)…James Bonwick: “The inhabitants were kept in constant alarm by the repeated attacks of the Blacks, which called forth the sympathies of the Lieutenant-Governor, Colonel Arthur, yet no means could be devised to rid the country of such a fearful scouige. They had a great antipathy to the Redcoats; and no soldier, when sent on escort, or other duty, was allowed to go alone, never less than two were sent together. For the protection of the inhabitants several stations were formed, where two or more soldiers were placed. A soldier at one of these stations, called Boomer Creek, vas sitting amongst some young wattles, peeling the twigs for a bird cage, when the Natives stole upon and beat him to death with their waddies. Two sawyers were at work on their pit near Mayfield House, when the Blacks came upon them. They, however, escaped to the house; but one was so terrified that he fell into a fever, and died. So great a terror did they strike into the Europeans, that, notwithstanding their physical superiority, they were unable, through fear, to defend themselves.”

One of the most charming retreats known to me in Tasmania is on the banks of the Clyde. Mr. Glover, the distinguished artist, has left us some sketches of this romantic part of the interior. Twelve years before my visit to the beautiful home of Mr. Sherwin, the Natives had attacked the homestead of that gentleman. The outbuildings, and even the house itself, were fired by the tribe. While the farm-servants were busy in moving the flour from the burning store, the shrewd Blacks set fire to a neighbouring fence, by way of distracting the attention of the servants, and giving themselves easier access to the great object of attack,—the flour-bag. As usual, they did not remain to fight. They fired the premises, less as a measure of offence, than as a means of securing plunder. This partially secured, the band hastily retreated to the forest, and the unhappy settler mourned the loss of his property. Read More:http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Last_of_the_Tasmanians/Chapter_4

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