Sunday, 5 April 2020

The Battle of Grossbeeren - Blucher AAR

We played this game a few weeks ago, I know I've been a bit slack posting this up but better late than never. We revisited the Blucher rule set with yet another scenario from the ‘oldmeldrumwargamesgroup’ team. This time we played the Battle of Grossbeeren (must be a good scenario as it has the word beer in it!). I umpired, Dave took the Prussian side and Alan and George played the French each commanding a Corps. As neither of the Armies Commanders were present at the actual battle, Oudinot was ill and Bernadette as usual was up to something else (there is a special rule for this game of no CnC activation) I kept both sides players in the dark about their reinforcements (what was coming and when).

The scenario can be found here…

The Battle Map…

I’ve used the scenario map and added some fancy arrows/rectangles to show how the battle developed, there were three main phases; the initial French advance, secondly the French IV Corp trying to breakout of the woods near Blackenfeld while the French VII Corps secured Grossbeeren and then finally the Prussian attack to capture Gossbeeren and the heights. 


The game started as expected with the French IV Corps pushing forward to overwhelm their counterparts of the IV Prussian Corp around Blackenfeld. The French Advance Guard took quite a beating from the Prussians but they did their job covering the rest of the Corps as it deployed. The French were then content to stretch their line out to match the Prussians and make a shooting contest of it. It was sensible as with the skirmish trait available on every unit they had it gave them a distinct advantage.

The French IV Corps advanced from the woods...

...and deploys in line to engage the Austrians

While the action before Blackenfeld unfolded the French VII Corps arrived and were quick to occupy Grossbeeren and the adjacent high ground (the scenario objectives for both sides).

With the use of Reserve Movement the French quickly took Grossbeeren and the high ground, they retain their concealment as they are over 8 BW's from any enemy in their LOS (our house interpretation of sighting rules)...

The Prussians IV Corp despite losses (including voluntarily retiring two units) kept the French bottled up as they tried to deploy from the woods.

Prussians keep the French pinned against the woods and block their route to Grossbeeren...

The delaying of the French IV Corps was very helpful for the Prussians as when Von Bulow (Vigorous trait) arrived on the table with the balance of the IV Corps and the III Corps the French defenders in and around Grossbeeren were isolated and outnumbered!

The French right now pulled out all stops and several charges were carried out and these unhinged the Prussian defenders around Blackenfeld and opened a way for them to reinforce their comrades at Gossbeeren but it was too late they had been delayed long enough so that they were effectively out of that part of the battle!

The Prussian left wing dispersed by the French while the infantry fled the sole cavalry Brigade moved toward the right Flank to add more pressure to the French at Grossbeeren...

Over to Von Bulow and his attack on the French at Grossbeeren. The Prussians formed a large line and advanced en mass, Von Bulow’s trait allowing activations at half the number of MO’s required made this movement easy even with only two MO dice available! The French kept their powder dry and awaited the onslaught. Finally with the Prussians close enough to fire on bad luck struck the French! First it started to rain so volley fire was negated to skirmish fire (scenario special rule), secondly the French got only two MO's so were unable to redeploy as required and lastly the Prussian scored two shooting hits on the French artillery unit in the centre of their line and on the high ground causing it to retire!

The first wave of Von Bulows right wing line up to attack the French...

As the first seven Brigades of Prussians move forward nine more Brigades arrive! Hopefully the French Commander is wearing his brown trousers!

With the help of rain and some luck the Prussians push the French line back! The second wave used their Reserve Move to get right up behind the first it was now sixteen Brigades to seven...

The MO Dice can be cruel! The Dice Shako is removed to show snake eyes after the French have only moved a couple of units on the IV Corps...Merde!

After the initial contact between Von Bulow and the French VII Corps the last few turns turned into a desperate fighting withdrawal for the French. Then drew back while trying to inflict casualties and hold Gossbeeren, they put up a valiant effort but the Prussian numbers prevailed and they were pushed back.

 The French struggle to hold their ground...

...and Grossbeeren...

Overall a Prussian victory, if we play this again the French really need to push on their left so they can get more troops around the victory objectives, Grossbeeren and the heights beside it.

Overall a good nights gaming was had and we had a result close to the historical outcome, our French IV Corp was more successful than the original though. Consensus is we’ll definitely get Blucher rules out again plus I am all set for a Waterloo refight at brigade scale (40mm x 20mm units) later this year (one hopes in June but with this Covid19 stuff who knows!)…

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Song of Drums and Shakos AAR #4 Austrians vs Russians 1812

Well TSOG catch up nights are on hold for a while so here I am by myself on a Monday night looking at the Song of Drums & Shakos game we were set to play, well what the heck I'll go ahead solitaire! We'll still play it as a group eventually!

It's the 1st of  August 1812 and in the shadow of the Battle of Gorodetschna Austrian and Russian patrols clash as they search for locations streams can be crossed in the marshy terrain near the battlefield...

The sides are;

1 Line Officer
1 Line NCO
4 Line Grenadiers
5 Line Musketeers

1 Line Officer
1 Grenzer NCO
4 Grenzers
5 line Infantry

The scenario revolves around occupying a foot bridge that cross a small yet steeply banked stream. The game lasts 10 turns and Victory Points are accumulated at the end of each turn.
1 VP for living and upright figures within 2L of the centre of the foot bridge
2 VP's for each living and upright figure on the foot bridge
2 VP's for each living and upright figure on the 'other side' of the stream to which they started

The AAR!

The Austrians won the right to go first and both sides enter their respective sides and barrelled toward the foot bridge!

Okay only the second turn and turnovers due and poor rolls hamper both sides as they try to secure the stream crossing...

 The bridge beckons both sides! And the Austrians get the better of my crap rolling...

Austrian Jaegers draw first blood killing a Russian and knocking one to the ground...these guys are armed with rifles so that helped them at long range!

While the Russian infantry seek cover behind a conveniently parked wagon just over 2L from the foot bridge centre!

The Austrians are across the stream but get hit by Russian fire 1 KIA and 1 pushed back

Then at the crucial moment where the Austrians can seal the game securing the bridge I roll 'real crap'! Unbelievable I can’t even roll well when playing solo...

At the end of turn 6 out of 10 the Austrians are on 25 VP’s to the Russians 11!

At this point with all the Austrians now in Victory Point earning positions the Russians really need to start to get into the action they...

On turn 7 a desultory firefight breaks out...the results favour the Austrians...

...for the loss of 1 Jaeger 3 Russian Grenadiers are felled!

Turn 8 and without enough activations to advance the Russian infantry continue to duel with their Austrian counterparts, the game is slipping further out of their hands! The VP tally at the end of the turn is the Austrians leading with 51 to 26, getting across the stream first is really helping them.

Turns 9 and 10 follow the pattern of turn 8 and the game ends in a clear Austrian victory 73 VP's to 42!

A good game but I just couldn’t push the Russians forward fast enough and once the Austrians had the advantage of all their men in Victory Point earning locations they were able to sit back and pour fire into the Russians! Early activations are crucial in this scenario!

I still have a Blucher AAR to write up and an update on preparations for the CoC Malaya 1942 Campaign so I must get onto posts for those!

Thursday, 19 March 2020


South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), Saturday 25 September 1841


On Monday, at mid-day, the Bench of Magistrates sat at the Courthouse to investigate the circum-stances under which a number of natives were shot on the Murray, by Mr Robinson's overland party and the police party under Mr Shaw.

Mr Morphett proposed that the Court should be cleared until they should decide whether the enquiry was to be carried on with open doors or not. The room was cleared accordingly; but after an interval of about half an hour, the doors were again thrown open.

The Chairman then informed Mr Moorhouse, the Protector of the Aborigines, that in order to satisfy the public mind both here and in England, the Governor had thought it necessary to have an official investigation into the circumstances of the late engagement on the Murray and requested that Mr Moorhouse would state to the Bench the facts of the case.

Mr Moorhouse said the facts were already before the public, by the publication of the report he had the honour to furnish to the Governor, which he handed, with a request that it might be read by the clerk. The published report was then read by Mr Richman.

Mr Smillie inquired, after the statement had been read, whether Mr Moorhouse adhered to that statement, and confirmed it?

Mr Moorhouse—l do.

Dr Matthew Moorhouse
Mr E. Stephens—It appears, then, Mr Moor-house, that no hostile proceedings or act of aggression on the part of the blacks had taken place before the order to fire upon the blacks was given by Mr Shaw?

Mr Moorhouse—No. We had information about their intentions by three natives, after they were drawn up in a line, and quivering their spears, that they were determined to have our blankets, tomahawks, &c.

Mr Stephens — But there were no spears thrown?

Mr Moorhouse — No. They evidently had been intending but did not throw any spears.

Major O'Halloran—But did they not raise their war cry?

Mr Moorhouse — I do not know. There was a noise among them; but I could not recognise any war cry. I had noticed however that Mr Robinsons party was drawn up at the ferry crossing and there were sounds of intense firing from the drays. It was clear that the party was under attack.

Mr Stephens—When they were drawn up in battle array, you say the two parties commenced firing. Previous to that, had any spear or waddy been thrown?

Mr Moorhouse — No.

Mr Stephens—But you had not yourself seen any evidence of the intentions warlike or otherwise of the party facing you… Was it necessary to put the natives out of the way in order to pass on with the party?

Mr Moorhouse — No. If they had remained where they were, we could have crossed.

Mr Giles— Would it not have been at a great risk of life to have crossed the river?

Mr Moorhouse — It would not have been possible, because all hands were employed in keeping the property together.

Mr Giles — Did they return the attack when you commenced?

Mr Moorhouse — They did.

Captain Sturt—What was the conviction in your mind when you gave over the command of the party?

Mr Moorhouse— My conviction was, that we were to be attacked; indeed, that if we allowed them unadvisedly to come within spear's throw, we should all have been cut off. Firing was the only advantage we had to compensate for our small numbers, the muskets being able to kill at a greater distance than their spears. I calculated the 150 natives had at least 400 spears with them, each spear being equal to a musket if sufficiently near to be thrown. It was also clear that if the natives had already attacked Mr Robinsons party then they would have no hesitation in attacking my own.

Major O'Halloran—You think their object was to make a rush?

Mr Moorhouse— Yes. I think so; and so, we all thought.

Mr Finniss—Were they besieging you?

Mr Moorhouse— Yes. In the sense that they were barring our further progress and rapidly drawing nearer.

Mr Giles—What was the distance?

Mr Moorhouse— In the space of less than 15 minutes they closed from approximately half a

mile upriver to about one hundred yards.

Mr Stephens—Although they had not committed any act of aggression, you are quite satisfied they were arrayed in order of battle, and that it was their intention to attack the party?

Mr Moorhouse— Yes. They were gradually coming on us.

Mr Stephens— Then the firing at the time was simply to prevent the spears from taking effect, knowing that the musket would carry further than the spear?

Mr Moorhouse— Yes.

Mr Stephens— You did not think the loss of life was in any degree wanton, or that any man fired unnecessarily?

Mr Moorhouse— Certainly not.

Mr Stephens— Then they only fired on the armed men, and when they were in the order of battle?

Mr Moorhouse— Yes. They were standing in the reeds during the worst part of the fire.

Dr Kent—Did the natives continue to approach, up to the time of the firing?

Mr Moorhouse— Yes, and a short time after.

Captain Sturt—Did you make any motions to them not to advance?

Mr Moorhouse— Yes. I made signals for them not to approach, but they took no notice of me.

Mr Stephens—Standing in the position you do, are you confident, from what you saw of the natives, that they meditated the destruction of yourself and party?

Mr Moorhouse— Decidedly.

Mr Stephens— And that, had they not been dislodged, you believe, from their attitudes, that you would have been cut off?

Mr Moorhouse— Yes, Sir.

Mr Stephens— And that, as Protector of Aborigines, you consider that what was done was not only decidedly necessary, but merciful?

Mr Moorhouse— It was decidedly merciful, as far as I could judge.

Dr Kent enquired of Mr Moorhouse what were the instructions under which he went out.

Mr Moorhouse—My instructions were, that in case the natives manifested any hostile disposition, I was to give over command of the party to Mr Shaw, the Sub-Inspector of Police, that he might issue such orders as he thought necessary for our safety.

Captain Sturt—You did not give up the command of the party to Mr Shaw till you saw that all hopes of an amicable understanding were at an end?

Mr Moorhouse— No, I did not—not until we saw the natives approaching with their weapons, and in their war paint.

Mr Stephens then examined Mr Shaw,

who corroborated Mr Moorhouse's statement, and said he thought the command of the party was not given to him, or the men ordered to fire, until it became a case of necessity.

Sub Inspector Shaw
Tuesday, Sept. 21.
The Magistrates met again this morning, when Mr Moorhouse was further examined.
In answer to a question from Major O'Halloran, he said the order to cease firing on the natives was promptly obeyed. They were first attacked by Mr Robinson's party on one side, and then came towards the river and were attacked by the Police party. The firing was stopped as soon as resistance ceased.

Mr Finniss—What prior steps had been taken to prevent a hostile collision with the natives?

Mr Moorhouse—Two messengers were sent in advance on the 26th of August, after having seen the Police party practice firing at a mark on a tree. On the day of the contest I went in advance of the party with the Adelaide Interpreters, intending to speak to them. Before we reached a position from which we could hold communication with them, the interpreters refused to accompany me further, lest we should be speared. I asked the Interpreters what they had learned. One replied it was war language. He advised me to go to the party and request the Police to commence shooting.

Mr Eyre-—Does your interpreter understand their language ?

Mr Moorhouse— Yes: perfectly. He was brought from among these natives when a boy.

Mr Moorhouse further stated— The dead bodies were all left on the field. The wounded were carried away. About two days afterwards we saw about one hundred blacks going down the river, with their women and arms, but they offered us no further annoyance. We were about forty miles on our way home before any natives came to our camp.

Mr Giles— Was there any communication between the interpreter and the natives afterwards regarding the affray?

Mr Moorhouse— Yes; we asked them why they had acted so determinedly. They denied belonging to the tribe with whom we had fought, and said they were thieves and beaters (the term when speaking of a person beating another to death), and de-served punishment.
Mr Giles— You say Mr Robinson's party commenced firing first and was already engaged whence you came to the river? Are you aware how he became engaged with them?

Mr Moorhouse— Only from the narrative of Mr Robinson.

Robinsons laager by the Rufus
 Mr Giles—Having seen that, are you of opinion that he acted precipitately or injudiciously?

Mr Moorhouse— He did not, so far as I could see. He acted in defence of his life and those of his party.

Captain Sturt — Do you consider the report of killed and wounded correct?

Mr Moorhouse— I think it has been made fully more than the fact. I saw only twenty-one bodies, but it was carried against me that there were thirty or even fifty black dead.

Captain Sturt — Did the men take aim or fire promiscuously?

Mr Moorhouse— They took aim at particular men.

Captain Sturt— Can you venture an opinion as to whether Mr Robinson's party would have been able to drive them off without the assistance of the police?

Mr Moorhouse— From my viewpoint it was already clear that Mr Robinsons party was under pressure and were not able to hold the firing line. I think they would have taken his drays and sheep from him. 

Capt. Sturt then, for the bench, thanked Mr Moorhouse for the clear and candid manner in which he had given his statement.

Mr Thomas Warriner, of Mount Barker, one of the overland party, was then examined.

He said, on the day on which the first engagement took place, he was sick on one of the drays. This was the day before the party made the Rufus. A short distance from the river a large body of natives were discovered drawn up in a semicircle in a polygonum scrub. The sheep and cattle, with the overland party, were in a small plain. The blacks were drawn up across and on each side of the road, evidently meaning to obstruct the further progress of the party. There were not less than 300 of them. They were gradually advancing. When they came nearer, and one part of the line was within twenty yards of the sheep, some shots were fired at them. They made a yell and stood their ground. I do not know whether they threw any spears. They were in the scrub, and I was on the dray, 500 yards off. Every man I could see was armed. They were drawn across the road when we first saw them, but when the action commenced, we found we were entirely surrounded by them. We did not tell them to keep off. The party saw it was so necessary to fire, that no order was required. They commenced firing of their own accord. 

Before the party started from New South Wales, orders were given that no one was to be allowed to fire on the natives, nor were they to be allowed to come near the camp. I think I saw spears being thrown at the lead dray but the main did not commence to attack until after we had started our fire… The blacks stood their ground a considerable time. Several rushes were made and I. Could see men fall and injured. It took place about 1/2 miles from the Rufus. They chose their ground very wisely, having a creek to retreat to in their rear. I should think the party were not within reach of their spears when the firing commenced.

The firing was kept up for, I should think, nearly three-quarters of an hour. I cannot say how many were killed. The blacks did not stand their ground during all the time of the firing; but it was necessary to disperse them in order to prevent their attacking us again. I do not think their object was revenge; I think they merely wished to get the sheep. I am aware that intercourse between the whites and the native women exists to a great extent in New South Wales, and partly among overland parties.

This was not the case with Mr Robinson's party, or with the party I came over with before. From what I have heard, I think this intercourse has been the cause of several attacks on the whites.

Mr William Robinson was then called, and made the following statement:—

The day on which the first attack took place, on looking out for a spot to encamp on, accompanied by Mr Phillipson, we made the Rufus; near which, we saw a large body of blacks. We went towards them, thinking they would go away; but on approaching them, a great many more came out of the scrub, and we immediately saw, from their manoeuvres, that they were going to attack us. We then went back to the party, and had the sheep, cattle, and drays all collected into a small plain. 

By the time this was done, and the party armed, the blacks had approached to within a short distance of where we had stopped the sheep. When about twenty yards off, they began to make all sorts of gestures, and yelling fearfully. The party commenced to fire simultaneously, without any order from me. The blacks were about 16 or 20 yards off when the firing was commenced; but they seemed to care very little for the shots. When a shot was fired, they all instantly dropped down, making such a noise that we could scarcely hear the report of the gun. They were all around us wherever we looked, making the most horrid noises, jumping about, and shaking their spears. I cannot say how long the firing continued. I think the men might have fired seven or eight rounds each.

They did not appear to have any spears with them but the jagged death spears; which they can only throw a short distance. If they had got within a few yards more of us, so as to have been able to use their spears I have no doubt we should all have been killed. I should think there must have been about 300 of them.

The police rendered us very effective assistance, the second day.

Captain Sturt— Do you consider the course adopted, absolutely necessary for self-defence?

Mr Robinson— Certainly. Every man seemed to fight in defence of his own life, without thinking of the property or anything else. We had no native with us, nor any means of holding communication with them. There was nothing done wantonly by any one of the party. There was no shooting except in self-defence. I am not aware of any act of aggression by any of the men previously. I think if the party had not commenced firing when they did, none of them would have been here to tell the tale. I think Mr Moorhouse was fully justified in giving the command of the party to Mr Shaw.

I think he was rather too late in allowing the men to fire; thereby bringing the party into danger in endeavouring to prevent a battle with the natives. There were about thirty blacks killed the second day, and a good many were wounded. I think we were not within throwing distance of their spears, when we commenced firing. They had only the large spears and waddies with them; I saw no reed spears. If they had succeeded in rushing upon us, as was evidently their intention, I think there is little doubt, but we should all have been massacred. We had no weapons for close quarters except a few of us who had pistols.

Captain Sturt— Supposing you had not heard of the attack on the other parties, would you have been satisfied, from their proceedings, that they were going to attack you?

Mr Robinson— Yes.

Sergeant Williams, of the police, and a policeman named Harris, were then examined, and corroborated the statement of the gentlemen previously examined.

Sergeant Williams
Mr Phillipson confirmed the statements of the previous witnesses in every important particular. He was perfectly satisfied that no act of aggression had been committed by the overland party on any of the natives during the whole route from the settled districts of New South Wales.

Mr Stephens—Had there been any intercourse with the women of the natives subsequent to the attack on the Rufus?

Mr Phillipson— Certainly. The women were brought afterwards with a desire to promote a friendly feeling, and the men had intercourse with them. This was done, however, contrary to Mr Moorhouse's wishes and desire; but as far as I was concerned, I cared nothing about it, although I joined with Mr Moorhouse afterwards in endeavouring to prevent it.

Mr Stephens—But do you not think that this tends to increase bad feeling, and that the natives act under the impression, in bringing their women, that if they did not, the Europeans would take them by force?

Mr Phillipson— I do not think any such thing; for, if the natives were desirous of avoiding us, they would keep at the other side of the river, or at a distance from our camp.

Mr Samuel Humble, a volunteer of the party, and a friend to Mr Robinson, then confirmed Mr Moorhouse's report, and Mr Robinson's statement.

Major O'Halloran — And you consider Mr Moorhouse a kind and merciful man, and one who would not take away life unnecessarily?

Mr Humble— I do, decidedly; for I know on several occasions that he exposed himself to great danger in order to establish a friendly footing with them on the way.

Mr Stephens—And you consider the firing to have been necessary?

Mr Phillipson— It was unavoidable, if we wished to save our lives.

The Bench then desired the native prisoner to be produced to-morrow morning, at eleven o'clock, until which time the sitting was adjourned.


This morning the proceedings were resumed. The wounded and captured Murray man, and interpreter from neighbouring tribes, were present. Mr Moorhouse and Mr Teichelmann attended. Pungke Pungke was first examined. His evidence was interpreted by Mr Teichelmann. 

Went with Mr Moorhouse to the North. Saw the blacks assembled for war. They had their spears. Their intention was to take the sheep, blankets, &c., from the whites. Believes they would have killed the Europeans to get them. The prisoner's tribe told him they meant to take the blankets and food. This was when he was sent to them by Mr Moorhouse. Saw the white men shoot the blacks. The blacks came exasperated, excited, and in anger. Had the white men not shot them, they would have been speared by the natives. The latter would not have gone away but for the shooting. If the white men had gone to them to tell them to go away, they would have been speared.

Went forward with Mr Moorhouse to hold conference with the blacks before the fight. Acted as interpreter. Natives told Mr Moorhouse they intended to spear the whites and take away their clothing. Had the whites remained passive, the blacks would have attacked them. Thinks the Europeans did right to fire on the blacks. Mr Moorhouse remonstrated with them and told them not to take the things. Had he been one of the Murray blacks, and wounded by the fire of the white men, he does not know what he should say as to their right to fire. Was afraid of being killed by the Murray men, and wished to return to the police. The police were bold or brave in the fight. Pul Kanta (the prisoner) is of the Lake Victoria tribe. The object of the tribe in attacking the Europeans was for their sheep, &c. The natives generally were given food by the overland parties, and, when refused, they became very angry.

Was not present when the man was killed at the Rufus. The black men do not eat white men. Was not one of those who were fighting. Has eaten sheep, but never fought the Europeans. All the sheep taken from former parties have been eaten—there are none left. (Witness would not answer the questions whether the tribe were justly shot by the Europeans, nor whether they would be afraid to attack the latter in future.) Does not know how many blacks were killed in first- and second-day’s fight, as he was sitting in the water while the firing went on. (Would not answer question—had he fought before at the same spot ? Said he did not understand any more of the interpreter's language). Wishes to return to his tribe, as he has a wife and two children there. He has been kindly treated since taken. The prisoner throughout displayed extreme caution and reserve.

The Chairman said that Mr Smith, whose evidence should have been taken, was not present. If any other persons were present who had facts to state relative to the occurrence, the Court was now ready to hear them.

Mr Moorhouse, on being asked if he had any observation to make, wished to state that he did not fire on the natives himself. He never carried firearms nor any other weapons when among the natives.

Major O'Halloran then moved —

" That the Bench of Magistrates, after a full and careful examination of all the evidence brought before them relating to the late affray on the Rufus between the Europeans and Blacks, are unanimously of opinion (so far as they have had an opportunity of forming one) that the conduct of Mr Moorhouse and his party was justifiable, and indeed unavoidable in their circumstances; and that much praise is due to him and them for the great forbearance evinced by the force when placed under circumstances of the most trying nature."

Mr Eyre seconded the motion. He knew, from his knowledge of the spot where the blacks had posted themselves, and his general knowledge and experience, that the collision was unavoidable. His only fear was, that the example made was not yet sufficient.

Dr Kent said, that it did not appear that there was any need to be answered by detaining the native in custody, and as great good might be pursuing the same course of leniency as had hitherto been pursued, he moved—"That the Bench respectfully requests his Excellency the Governor that he will be pleased to direct that the native now in custody be placed forthwith under the care of M. Moorhouse, Esq, Protector of Aborigines ; and that, after Mr Moorhouse shall have given such instruction as the means at his disposal will permit, he be allowed to return to his tribe."

Mr Stephens seconded the resolution. He took that opportunity of stating his entire concurrence in the resolutions previously passed. He had taken great personal interest in these proceedings, and was perfectly satisfied with Mr Moorhouse's conduct, and of the justification of the proceeding on the Murray.

Captain O'Halloran moved—

'' That his Excellency be respectfully solicited, under the circumstances now elicited, to direct an armed party of police, or military if possible, under the direction of a magistrate, to be stationed in the vicinity of the Ferry, for the protection of future overland parties and property, and to prevent collision with the natives, or injury to them."

His Worship the Mayor seconded the motion. He considered the most merciful course was to prevent collisions between the Europeans and natives, and quite approved of the means proposed as the most effectual for producing that result.

The Chairman then thanked the Bench for their assistance in the matter, and a vote of thanks to the Chairman having been passed, the Bench separated

Wednesday, 18 March 2020


The Adelaide Register September 25th 1841


Report of Mr. Moorhouse Protector of Aborigines to His Excellency the Governor Grey
Lake Bonney, 190 miles from Adelaide, September 4th, 1841

Sir, — I have the honour to inform His Excellency the Governor, that the expedition, consisting of twenty-nine Europeans and three Aborigines, sent from Adelaide on the 31st July, to meet Mr. Robinson and others, on their route from Sydney, is now on its return, having been effectual in rendering all the assistance that was necessary, to whom it was designed.

River Murray Overlander encounters 1839 to 1841

On the 27th, as we were only five miles from the Lake, I had the party assembled, to repeat my instructions. Each individual was distinctly told that no firing could be allowed, until the sub-inspector of police gave the com mand. I advised them, in case of attack from the natives, to use every exertion to protect the drays and livestock. Leaving the drays and non-essential personnel encamped near Lake Bonney at nine o'clock we marched. The relief party consisted of myself, three aboriginal interpreters, Sub Inspector Shaw, his sergeant, ten police troopers, and six of the volunteers.

Sub inspector Shaw’s ten troopers at north terrace barracks
In about an hour and a half we saw what appeared to be a laager of wagons and livestock on the Sydney side of the Rufus River crossing heretofore known as Langhorne’s ferry. Sporadic gunfire was coming from the far or northern side of the laager and I could distinctly hear much yelling and other shouting.

Cognisant of your instructions to find a non-violent way to ensure passage of the overlander groups through the riverine area I urged my mount forward. However, my three aboriginal interpreters showed no interest in accompanying me and hung back skulking near a hillock. Mr Shaw urged his men forward and shook out into three firing lines several paces apart facing what was now clearly a second native party on the western bank. The natives were advancing rapidly upon our position and it was evident that they intended us harm if we were to have come inside spear range.

I quickly consulted with Mr Shaw and we concluded that the rapid advance of the natives (numbering possibly 150 warriors with as many again on the Eastern side of the river) coupled with the obviously violent engagement of Mr Robinsons party gave sufficient cause to evoke your desire to hand command to Mr Shaw and to allow him to make such decisions as would be fitting to ensure that safety of the party.

I summarily handed over formal command to Mr Shaw and retired to find my aboriginal interpreters. I asked them the result of their questioning of the local people. They answered that the Lake people would not listen to their advice; they knew the Europeans had tomahawks, blankets, and food, and they were determined to take them, let the consequences be what they might. I felt justified in my decision to hand command to Mr Shaw.

Mr Shaw quickly ordered his firing lines to ready themselves and proceeded to begin a steady fire into the advancing native groups. In the face of this fire two of the native parties broke into a run and advanced against Mr Shaw’s lines; one volunteer being struck down and injured during the affray. However well-coordinated firing from the rest of the line knocked most of the natives to the ground where they were either despatched by the police or fled back along the riverbank. As it had proven impossible to open communications with the natives prior to the engagement I hurriedly went forward and brought into custody one of the natives who had previously been knock to the ground during the assault.

With the native attack on the western side of the river halted, we turned our attention to relieving Mr Robinson and his party.

One of the drays had entered the river crossing but it was clear that several parties of natives had gotten in amongst the remaining livestock and dealt some of Mr Robinsons party some fearsome blows. We saw several of the shepherd and station hands engaged in desperate struggles in and around the drays. Responding to calls from Mr Robinson Mr Shaw sent one group of troopers across the ferry and they proceeded to drive off the blacks. The remaining natives fled northwards along the riverbank followed by parting shots from the parties involved.

It was clear that Mr Robinsons party had suffered several men dead or severely incapacitated and several more wounded but still able to continue with their duties. We assisted Mr Robinson to bring the remainder of the livestock and his drays across the ferry which took most of the rest of the day and proceeded to give succour to those wounded as was possible under the circumstances.

The next day the reorganised party set out for the encampment near Lake Bonney where I departed for Adelaide, leaving Mr Shaw to provide protection for the remainder of the journey.

Dr Moorhouse
Protector Of Aborigines
Province of South Australia

Mr Robinsons information constitutes the second part of this report:

In company, with Mr. Warrener, Mr Levi and Mr. Barker, I left Gundagy, upon the Murrumbidgee, on the 1st July, with 6000 ewes, 15 horses, 500 head of cattle three drays, and 26 in the party.

In consequence of the reports of the fate of Mr. lnman's. and Mr. Langhorne's parties, we were well armed. In proceeding down the Murrumbidgee, we saw blacks the whole way, but kept them off the camp, and never allowed one of them to come near. The Darling was in full stream, and there were three cattle lost in crossing. On approaching the Rufus, I had remained some way behind, looking for the strayed cattle, and saw thirty or forty natives, armed, proceeding across the track towards the Lake. The blacks, on seeing me crossed the Murray.

However, on the 26th when the party was in sight of the Rufus River but strung out along the trail, I observed several more parties of blacks in the distance.

It was approaching dusk and the drovers were behind the main drays along with most of the armed party and the remaining livestock. As the leading dray came within sight (maybe half to three quarters of a mile) of the river we observed at about the distance of one hundred yards, blacks possibly numbering as many as 300. I suspected their movements were hostile as there was considerable shouting and gesturing of weapons. However, at this stage there was no throwing of spears. I recognised however that many of the warriors were armed with throwing spears and I felt that if we were to go too far forward, we would be in danger of our lives.

I accordingly ordered all the property to be collected into as limited a space as possible. I called out for men to guard the cattle and sheep, and for the remainder to come forward to clear the blacks from the line of march. I had at my disposal three mounted hands, three unarmed waggoneers, and three drovers, plus myself and Mr Levi. I did however feel that the weight of shot possessed by the party would be sufficient.

Whilst I was doing this, the natives had formed themselves into a semi-circular line, each flank not being more than thirty yards from the leading dray. Several groups surged forward flinging spears at the horses and the lead waggoneer. With the trail blocked the men struggled to form into a firing line and responses were sporadic. A more disciplined surge from the natives knocked Freddy Simons from his horse and he was severely injured in the fall. The lead waggoneer also suffered several spear wounds and one of the horses broke its tether and bolted back along the river flat. As I came up, I saw that Barry Kennedy had been struck and was not moving near the second wagon; I surmised that he was dead.

I formed the Europeans into a single line, and recommenced firing, and continued until each man had fired eight rounds each. By this time, the natives not having approached sufficiently near to spear the sheep and had lost several of their number wounded. Darkness was falling rapidly, and I could not see the extent of the damage from our firing.

The natives drew off and, after several minutes we rapidly hauled the party to the ferry and the river’s edge where we laagered the drays for the night.

Early the next morn I and one of the drovers went north along the river seeking a suitable crossing point. The waters at the ferry seemed deep and unsettled. We went as far as Lake Victoria but the water all along the eastern side was still quite high and unsuitable for crossing.

Greatly to our surprise, we discovered two large parties of blacks advancing each bearing his instruments of war and making fearsome noises from the head of the river down each embankment toward us. At this stage I was not cognizant of the existence of the relief party from Adelaide, so I assumed that the group on the western bank was designed to deny us the crossing of the river.

We hastened to our party and had only barely time to communicate what we had seen before the native bands surged over the small chalk embankments to our north and through the spinifex and sage bush. The drays were still pulled up, in a laager; but they had been readied for movement, so the laager was incomplete, and a gap had been left at the rear to allow egress of the livestock.

Moving rapidly several bands surged up to the base of and then over the two drays on the northern side. Messers Carmicheal and Sergion were driven from the flat bed and down onto the ground between the drays and the assembled livestock. I and Mr Levi held post at the front of the drays and fired upon the advancing horde as best we could.

A third group burst through the tree line and contacted young Freddy Gammerson leading the first group of cattle toward the ford. Mr Jones on the first dray had already entered the deep water and was proceeding across. He later confessed to being fearful for his life as he saw the blacks crowd around behind his wagon.

Despite our fire the blacks were too numerous, and a fourth group streamed around the open rear of the laager and fell upon Henry Higgins the drover with the second mob of sheep. He was clubbed to the ground but was able to push the natives back as the crowded around him, pushing and striking him with their spears.

Several warriors bounded from the drays and assaulted Henry and his companion Stephen O’Henry who was also roughly dealt with. Rushing to his aid Mr Levi pushed back one wave of attackers but was overwhelmed and went down under a sea of blows and slashes.

I was too preoccupied firing and encouraging the men to notice the fracas on the western bank. While surrounded by blacks and firing desperately with my pistol as the musket was taking too long to load, I heard the encouraging shouts of European voices across the way. The blacks began breaking off and fleeing toward the northern banks of the river followed by what I now know to be police under the command of Sub Inspector Shaw. I saw several natives fall and many more were seen leaping into the river and attempting to hide amongst the reeds.

Gradually order was restored, and we were assisted by the Adelaide party to cross the river and proceed on our way. We buried the two slain stockmen and now they rest where the wattles, their sweet fragrance shed, and tall gum trees shadow, the stockman’s last bed.