Ben Hall at Koorawatha
From the Burrangong Star’s Extraordinary, May 28, 1864.
At five o’clock on Friday afternoon Mr. Ayliffe, the owner of two racehorses, and some other men, were sitting under the veranda of the hotel at Bang Bang (Koorawatha), when three men, splendidly mounted, rode towards them, and covering them with their revolvers, ordered them to “throw up their hands”.
And while Ben Hall guarded them, with members of the household and others to the number of twenty, Gilbert and Gordon, known as the ‘old man,’ took their position at a gate into the yard, where senior constables Scott and Macnamara were standing beside their horses.
The constables were not in uniform, the horses were unbridled and feeding.
They were escorting horses proceeding from Cowra to the Burrangong races.
They had left Cowra Friday morning accompanying Mr. Alec.
Wilson’s ‘Dick Turpin’ and ‘Jemmy Martin’, Mr. Skillicorn’s ‘Duke of Athol’, and Mr. Harry Croft’s ‘Hollyhock’ and ‘Bergsmet’.
Gilbert and the ‘old man,’ one presenting a carbine and the other a revolver called out, “leave them horses.”
On this Scott and Macnamara put their hands to their belts to draw their revolvers when Gilbert said, “Take your hands out of that, you wretches, or I will blow your brains out,” and immediately fired three shots, but without effect.
The troopers, who were only armed with revolvers returned the fire, and after receiving seven shots in this manner at a distance of thirty yards, advanced towards the bushrangers, two of whom, slowly retreated, while Gilbert continued a cross fire from the fence.
On the police reaching the fence, however, Gilbert joined the ‘old man’ and while Macnamara kept these two at bay, Scott pursued Hall up the road, both parties firing at each other at intervals.
One of Scott’s shots appeared to take effect, at least the hat of the bushranger was knocked off.
Hall having now got out of reach, Scott returned to the house where the “old man” and Gilbert had been hovering around.
Gilbert dismounted at the back of a fence at a distance of about 350 yards, pointed his carbine at Scott and fired, saying loudly “take that you wretch”.
The ball struck the ground close to where the constable was standing, and ricocheted into the public house, but without doing any injury.
The bushrangers now retreated to a distance and, after firing a final shot, retreated altogether.
A vigilant watch was kept until midnight, when Sir Frederick Pottinger arrived with four troopers; but as nothing happened during the night, two of these were sent back in the morning.
Shortly after daybreak, Scott and Macnamara proceeded to Young with the racehorses, where they arrived in safety at five o’clock in the evening. A detachment of police were put on duty at the race course until the termination of the meeting. Such is actually the state of the southern districts at the moment that a race horse cannot be moved from one township to another without a police escort.
Young Historical Society – Brian James.
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