Goulburn Herald ( NSW ) Saturday 28 February 1863 page 2 of 4
ATTACK UPON THE WESTERN ESCORT.- Intelligence was received on Wednesday morning by telegram that a daring attack had been made on the previous evening ( 24 February ) near Hartley upon the armed gold escort from the western districts. Fortunately the attack was not attended with any serious injury, and no attempt was made to rob the gold. The escort party arrived safely in Sydney last night, and from them we have learned the following particulars of the attack. The western escort, in charge of Sergeant McClure, with about 2300 ounces of gold, arrived in Little Hartley on Tuesday evening, and started thence at a little after nine o’clock for Big Hartley, a distance of three miles. The road between the two Hartleys being well populated, the sergeant considered it safe, and accordingly dispensed with the attendance of the mounted men. The escort consisted of the sergeant and three constables, two of whom were in the coach, and one on the box with the driver. About three-quarters of a mile on this side of Little Hartley, while driving at a rapid pace along a macadamised road, the coachman observed some logs thrown across the road, and uttered an exclamation of alarm. The leaders stumbled at the obstruction, but by prompt use of the whip the coach was pulled over. Just as the driver was whipping the horses, a succession of shots were fired from the left side of the road. The shots were seven or eight in number, and appeared to have been intended for a volley, but were not fired quite simultaneously. After proceeding about eighty yards beyond the logs, one of the leading horses dropped down dead. The coach being thereby stopped, the escort got out, and on examining the horses found that two of them were wounded. Under the orders of Sergeant McClure (whose face had been grazed by one of the shots) the men took up a position on the opposite side of the road to that from which the shots had been fired, the men being under cover of stumps. They remained in that position for nearly three-quarters of an hour, but no more shots were fired. While thus waiting they could hear a low whistling in the direction from which the firing had come, and immediately afterwards they heard the barking of the settlers’ dogs, indicating that some people were running past. It was supposed that there must have been at least five men in the gang, as in addition to the wounding of the sergeant, the killing of one horse, and the wounding of two others, the driver’s coat was pierced with a bullet, and a shot went through one of the lamps. The gang were in ambush, and as none of them could be seen, no shots were fired by the police. The escort reached Big Hartley without further obstruction, remained there on Tuesday night, started early yesterday morning for Penrith, and arrived in Sydney with the gold by the last train. It should be stated that it was the same escort that was attacked a short time ago; it was not then, however, in charge of Sergeant McClure, he having shortly before received some injuries by the breaking down of the escort coach. Nothing has yet transpired to give any clue to the identification of the rascals, but it is conjectured that Lowrie, who last week made his escape from the Bathurst gaol, was one of the gang. – S. M. Herald.