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A Transcript written by William Pidcock ,a member of the 11th Regiment.

This transcript was transcribed from the original hand written document written by William Pidcock, a former member of the 11th Regiment.

Julie kindly supplied this copy
Many thanks to Julie for preserving another chapter of History
Julie can be contacted on E-mail macjules@telstra.easymail.com.au
 

All spelling is as used by Pidcock The following is a transcript of a narrative written by William Pidcock

about Sydney in the 1840s and about the mutiny by the 99th Regiment in 1845 over the abolition of the daily grog allowance made to soldiers on foreign posting. The mutiny, that lasted for approximately four weeks, came to an end when the rebels learnt of 400 troops brought from Hobart Town to quell their insurrection, that were onboard the ship " Tasmania" standing off Sydney Heads. The XI th . Regiment was the North Devonshire Regiment of which William was a member. The 99 th. Regiment were relieved of duty in Sydney in late 1847, being ordered to Van Dieman's Land to await joining by its outlying detachments. As soon as another regiment arrived to relieve them from duty the entire 99 th Regiment was ordered to India instead of returning to England as punishment, for their conduct.
Transcript begins

In compliance to a special request, of a visitor to Australia, to write a short narrative of events brought

under my notice and observation in connection with my military career in Australia during the interval of 1845 and 1857, I herein submit the following viz. The old military quarters in Sydney were known as the George' s Square Barracks, covered an area now occupied by large and modern buildings, pleasure ground, streets, and spaces, including, Wynyard Square, portions of the western side of George Street and eastern side of Clarence Street, from Barrack Street to Margaret Street. The entrance gate to said barracks were situated as Follows, viz.
1. The main gate, with Guard-room. On the western side of George Street; At junction of York and Barrack Streets.
2. At northern boundary near to Petty' s Hotel and the Scot's Church; the latter a very plain but substantial building erected many years ago under the auspices of the Revd John Dunmore Lang D., a celebrated divine, and able politician, whose labours, and self-denial for the benefit of his adopted country are recorded, and will be remembered in connection with the annals of the Australian Colonies, more especially those of N. S. Wales . Amongst the various incidents of Soldier life in Sydney were those which occurred in the said barracks towards the end of the year 1845. viz: the unfortunate demonstration of insubordination, and mutinous conduct of the rank and file of the Head Quarter Companies of the 99th Regiment there stationed, under the command of Liue't Colonel Despard, and was madly intended by the said soldiers, as a protest against the discontinuance of the daily allowance of grog previously supplied to troops on foreign service.

Those of the 99 th . as before mentioned were so irritated and rebellious as to forget their obligations to

their Queen and country, by refusing to obey the lawful commands of their Officers, or to perform any further Garrison or Regimental duty. L't Despard, as in duty bound reported the occurrence to L't General Sir Maurice O'Connell, then commanding the troops in the Australian colonies, and residing in Sydney. Who there upon, and in view of remonstration with the men, proceeded at once, accompanied by his staff Officers, to the barracks, and endeavoured to dissuade the men from continuing a course so unsoldierlike and disgraceful, \par which if persisted in, would bring dishonour upon the regiment and condign punishment upon themselves which in part could be avoided by an immediate and peaceful return to duty. His efforts however were of no avail; they persisted in their demand for a restoration of what they deemed, and termed, their rights. He then threatened, that failing compliance, obedience must be enforced, and that in case of absolute necessity, he would request permission of His Excellency the Governor, to arm the convicts at Cockatoo Island, and march them against the mutineers, at which threat, the men became exasperated and rushed thence into their barrack-rooms, took up their arms & accoutrements and returned to the barrack Square, assuming menace towards the General and his officers, compelling them to leave the barracks; to their deep humiliation and disgust, which was also very keenly felt by the Colonel and Officers of the 99 th

"HM Ship Havanna was at the time at anchor in the Sydney harbour; the Commander of which, had, it

appears been appealed to for help, but declined to interfere in the matter. The General in his dilemma then forwarded a dispatch r to Lt Col; Bloomfield of the XI Reg' t who with the Head Quarters of his Corps was stationed at Hobart Town. Van Diemans Land (now Tasmania) having arrived there from England on 14th Dec1845, directing him to proceed, with as many of his officers and men as could be spared, to Sydney without delay for the purpose of disarming the mutineers of the Head Quarters of the 99 th Reg t Accordingly the barque "Tasmania" under command of Capt Black, then anchored in Hobart Town Harbour, was at once chartered, and the H / Quarter Companies consisting of officers and 400 rank and file, embarked therein for Sydney.

The Colonel and his Officers, very judiciously kept the men in ignorance of the object of the General' s

command until the third day at sea, when he assembled his men on deck, and in a very feeling manner informed them of the painful duty they were called upon to perform, which under the ci rcumstances, was most repugnant to the feelings of a true British soldier. He kindly, and in a fatherly manner, exhorted them to be calm, obedient, and trustful, and to exhibit their usual characteristics of true loyalty and soldierly conduct. He hoped that the object to be gained would be accomplished without bloodshed. To which address the men gave a hearty response, assuring the Colonel that they would stand by him and his officers in any emergency. They were now in sight of Sydney Heads, but shortly afterwards, a very strong head-wind set in, and grew in strength until it assumed the character of a gale and kept the vessel tacking about in open sea during seven additional days, thus lengthening the time of \par the voyage to ten days. The ship " Havanna ", before alluded to, had in the mean time sailed from Sydney, and during the gale, hove in sight of the " Tasmania" , which latter vessel then signaled to the former, for information or assistance, but without effect, thereby causing general surprise under the circumstances.

The 99 th . Having by some means been informed of the determined attitude of the General, and of a vessel

conveying troops, having been sighted some distance outside of the Heads, deemed it desirable, as a matter of expediency to submit t o authority, and offered to return to duty, and orderly conduct. The proposal thus offered through and urged by Col. Despard, was graciously conceded to by the General, who notwithstanding his leniency deemed it his duty at once to forward a report of the circumstances to the Secretary at War in London, and to wait Her Majesty' s pleasure. The H Quarter of the XI th . arrived in Sydney harbour on 8 th January 1846, and landed with all speed by means of lighters at the wharf known as the Commissariat Wharf, where they formed into a line, and marched four deep, with fixed bayonets, along George Street; the band playing "Paddy will you now to the barracks main gate". The Colonel then finding the said gate closed, demanded, in a very authorative manner, the gate be opened wide: The command was at once responded to by a sentinal of the 99th presented arms, and called , Guard turn out. The sentinals call was at once obeyed by the guard 99th. then on duty who presented arms to Col Bloomfield, his officers and soldiers as they marched past the guard into the Barrack Square amidst the cheers of Officers and men, together with the women and children of the 99 th who together with as many of citizens as could possibly gain admission into the barrack grounds who g ave the XIth. a most hearty welcome.

Thus ended, to the gratification of all concerned, what might reasonably have been expected from

preceeding circumstances, a calamtous and ignominious mutiny, but was providentially frustrated. The stain however on t he character of those who caused and took part in the dishonorable, and mutinous transaction still remains on record against an otherwise brave and noble regiment, and will probably so re main when generations, yet unborn, shall have passed away. The principal building of Sydney at the period above referred to were comparatively few an in point of style and architecture, of a primitive character, and totally insignificant (with few exceptions) in relationship to the numerous, and stately structures, \par which now adorn this fair city and suburbs. I may here mention a few of the old buildings, at the period above mentioned: Nearly opposite to the barrack main gate, stood a cottage with green palisade in front; this was then known as the Bank of N. S. Wales .

A little further south was the old General--Post Office, of limited space and dimensions, this is now replaced

by a very large and massive building, extending from George' St . to Pitt Street and fronting a new and very wide street, running from George Street to Pitt, and Castlereagh Streets. Further south, and on the western side of George Street from Market Street to Druitt Street, stood the old market, and the Police Court building, the whole of which space is now occupied by a most magnificent ornamental and very costly building named the Queen Victoria Market. Still further south, between Druitt and Bathurst Streets, the site of the old C -of-England burial ground, have been erected two most noble buildings viz:
1 St Andrew's Cathedral close to Bathurst Street and fronting George Street.
2 The Sydney Town Hall, a magnificent, extensive and ornamental edifice; the public hall which is capable of seating at the least 4,000 people, with ease and comfort. In the western gallery to its full extent has been erected one of the most costly and the largest pipe organs in the world. An experienced organist is employed by the City Council to manipulate said organ for the pleasure and benefit of the citizens and visitors. On Church Hill opposite to Perry' s Hotel stands t he old and very plain structure, the Scott's Church as before alluded to At a short distance from the Scott's Church stood the venerable pile, St Phillip's old Church, with this round tower, where the Ven Archdeacon of Cumberland, Rev Cowper, during the greater part of his long life, in the most zealous, and affectionate manner, appealed to the hearts of his many hearers, and parishioners; his labours were successful and highly appreciated. The old church has been pulled down, and a new and modern structure erected at a little distance westward of the old site to a few yards distant from St Phillip's old Church, is a very neat and modern structure, St Patrick's, Roman Catholic Church in the basement of which is the St Patrick's Hall, where the well known, and welcome voice of that very earnest, and faithful apostle of temperance,

The Very Reverand Dean McEncroe, was heard appealing to the crowds, who weekly assembled there to

consecrate their service to the cause of temperance, and use their endeavours to s tem the torrents of iniquity and crime resulting from the indulgence of intoxication. He being dead, yet speaketh by the zeal and energy of those, who through his instrumentality were plucked as brands from the burning. To each of the churches on Church Hill the soldiers quartered in the old barracks, (when off duty) were marched, according to their respective creeds, and headed by their Regimental Bands, every Sunday in the forenoon. St James' (English) Church the spire of which was once a well known land mark, is situated near to the head of King Street, and figures highly in Colonial history, being one of the oldest churches in Sydney. A short distance eastward of (St James's English) Church the spire of which was once a well known land mark, is situated near to the head of King Street, and figures highly in Colonial history, being one of the oldest churches in Sydney. A short distance eastwards of St James's, was situated the Roman Catholic pro-cathedral, a wooden structure for some time and during the erection of a massive and noble stone structure, large, extensive and attractive, also an ornament to the City.

Vast numbers of worshipers are congregated to herein at every sacred service and ceremony. The

Wesleyan Church in York Street then, (in 1846) was considered to be an excellent building, has of late years given place to a larger and more modern structure including spacious Hall & camp; Church, adapted for classes, instruction, & camp; and for Divine Service. \par The Head Quarters of the XIth. Regiment spent a happy period of one year in the old barracks, performing, in turn with the 99th Garrison and Regimental duties, in such a manner as to secure the entire confidence of the Military Authorities, and by good conduct and deportment, the highest respect of the citizens, together with the good will of the 99th I may here mention as an episode, that prior to the arrival of the Xith in Sydney the citizens, subject to an order given by Lt Col Despard, were prohibited, when entering the barracks, from walking on any part of the grass-covered area. By such disallowance they had it appears, a long experience of disappointment and annoyance.

Lt Colonel Bloomfield who ever issued a regimental order, that on no portion of the ground fronting the

quarters of the XIth were the citizens to be prevented walking on the grass, especially during the time the Bands of either regiment was playing in the Rotundra, which was situated on the parade ground directly in front of the quarters occupied by the Xith Such liberty being the undoubted right of the respectable citizens and visitors. As a recognition of the good conduct of his soldiers Lt Col. Bloomfield and his officers gave a sumptuous dinner to them, their wives, and children, and to their friends, and at the conclusion thereof, an entertainment consisting of old English sports, games, and other amusements, which the men of the XIth then off duty were invited to share. The invitation was gratefully accepted, and tended to cement the good will of all to each other. I may add that the barrack grounds were thrown open to the public without distinction during the entertainment, and Lt Col. Despard cancelled hid Regimental orders which prevented the citizens from walking on the grass.
On the 6th January 1847, the Head Quarter Companies of the XI th. were under orders to embark for Van Dieman' s Land, in the ship "Java" for Launceston, which immediately took place, and after 3 days sail, they arrived safely at their destination, and there remained until August 1848. When they received orders to sail again for Sydney. Previous to their departure the residents of Launceston publicly expressed their regret, at the removal of such well conducted soldiers, who, during their stay had won the respect and esteem of the people. From good authority, it appears, that many of the people of Sydney petitioned General Wynyard the then Commander of the troops in Australia, for the return of Head Quarters of the Xith . to Sydney and to occupy the new Victoria Barracks, suggesting that the remaining companies of the Regiment, then stationed at penal settlements in various parts of V/D Land, and in Norfolk Island should rejoin the H/Quarters after being relieved by detachments from other regiments.

The General' s consent subject to the approval of His Excellency the Governor was at once conceded to.

pleasant sail of three days the Head Quarter Companies \par landed in Sydney when Lt Col. Bloomfield, After a with the Officers and Soldiers, proudly march to their new quarters as the first regiment in H. M Service that occupied the Victoria Barracks, being highly welcomed by the citizens of Sydney. The 99 th Reg/t. in the mean time was under orders for V/D Land, and sailed there unto, subsequently joined by its outlying detachments. After a shot period a regiment having arrived in that colony from England, the 99 th . were thereby relieved; having received orders from the military authorities in London to embark for India instead of England, where they had fully hoped to return. Such however was the out come of the rash and mutinous conduct of the Head Quarters rank and file of that regiment to share the punishment inflicted for the grave offence of those who took part in the fracas

During the occupation of the Victoria Barracks by the Xith Regiment, there occurred one of the most

important events that ever took place in the history of N. S. Wales viz:- the discovery of gold, and the very successful labour s of thousands of people who obtained much of the rich ore. The very able and effectual manner in which Lt Col. Bloomfield kept his men together, under the prevailing and intense excitement, and the very tempting inducements held out, was indeed most remarkable and praiseworthy. One of the secrets of his success lay in his very able, and humane administration. He gave to the soldiers every possible indulgence (compatible with reason and the requirements of duty) by permitting them to work at such trades , or callings, as they were capable of performing, in, or out of barracks (when off duty) thus enabling them to earn money for themselves, and encouraging them to place all or any portion of such earnings as they could afford into the regimental Savings Bank, which had been established for the Soldier' s future benefit. He placed implicit confidence in all under his command. His consideration for them was like unto that of a good father, and was duly reciprocated by their loyal adherence to and confidence in their Colonel.

The sobriety and general good conduct of the men was most remarkable. He frequently expressed himself

as proud of his Regiment; and thus gained a popularity of which very few of the Commanding Officers in Her Majestys Service have maintained amongst those under their command at such a trying time under similar circumstances. There are and have been many noble Officers in Her Majesty' s Service, of various ranks, who have distinguished themselves by bravery exemplary, and moral conduct, and have exercised an influence for good over those under their command or control, but who probably could never have so long endured un wearily and successfully carried out, during a long period of trial and anxiety the temptations and influence which surrounded his Soldiers, as did Col Bloomfield. His memory therefore is stamped upon the hearts of those faithful men whose affection for their Commander, will remain unshaken while life shall last, and deeply impressed upon the minds of their offspring and friends, to whom these facts have been revealed

In September 1857 the Xith . were under orders to embark for England. Many of the Soldiers being

desirous of remaining in the Colonies where they had formed strong attachments, were permitted so to do. Colonel Bloomfield after arrival in England with his regiment was, for his good and able administration, rewarded, by promotion to the rank of Major General the last page of the narrative is missing. The finish of this paragraph and the completion of the narrative is taken from the rough draft of the narrative written by William Pidcock and is as follows and subsequently to that of L t General & appointment as Aid-de-Camp to Her Majesty the Queen. Many of his officers, Non Commissioned Officers and private Soldiers also received suitable promotion
June 25 th 1894
Transcript ends signature and date completed, the document transcribed by Julie McCrea. August 2000
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Copyright B & M Chapman (QLD) Australia
Last revised: April 1 2001.