THE SWITCH 1790 – CONTEXT – WAR WITH FRANCE 1793-1815

‘For a brief moment there was hope…within a matter of years violence had broken out on both sides and Phillip would now instruct raiding parties to bring back the severed heads of warriors. The birth of Australia was meant to be so different…it need not have been this way’. Stan Grant, Talking to My Country, Text Publishing, 2017

2019: So why is Australia ‘this way’ a divided nation? A white first world dominating a third world defined by colour and hue and seen by the ‘entitled’ white world as a liability.  See: G is for Genocide- Colonial Breeding

‘Phillip…had instructions to deal with the ‘natives’ with ‘amity and kindness’. Professsor Larissa Behrendt, The Honest History Book, – Invasion or Settlement, NewSouth Press, 2017   

What went so wrong with the deal; ‘within a generation the heads of Aborigines were shipped to Britain in glass cases to be studied as relics of a doomed race’. Grant. ibid.

London: In 1838 a Select Committee of the British Parliament; ‘On the subject of the Aborigines of New Holland…It is impossible to contemplate the condition or the prospects of that unfortunate race without the deepest commiseration. Lord John Russell to [Governor] Sir George Gipps, 21 December, 1838. Historical Records of New South Wales Vol.1

So what flipped the switch from ‘amity and kindness’ to ‘nasty’ creeping frontier wars that by 1838 had brought about the near destruction of ‘that unfortunate race…the Aborigines of New Holland’?

Two (2) First Nations’ authors, Stan Grant and Larissa Behrendt, have honed in on a critical pinch-point that occurred in the first decade of Britain’s occupation of New Holland.

Although ‘amity kindness’ were the ‘weasel-words’ of their day, both Behrendt and Grant are satisfied Governor Phillip took the concept seriously. That was until December 1790 when Phillip’s absolute loyalty to ‘King and Country’ trumped ‘amity and kindness’.

‘Military and police raids against dissenting Aboriginal groups lasted from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. These raids commenced by December 1790’. Professor Bruce Kercher, An Unruly Child, A History of the Law in Australia, Allen & Unwin, Sydney 1995

1790: In December 1790 Governor Phillip issued General Orders that put no limit on brutality; ‘instil universal terror…kill ten…bring in the heads of the slain…bring away two prisoners to execute in the most public and exemplary manner’.

‘The French and Dutch were manoeuvring for advantage in India and the East…In November 1784 Henry Dundas, probably [Prime Minister] Pitt’s closest advisor…warned that India is the first quarter to be attacked, we must never lose sight of keeping such a force there as will be sufficient to baffle or suprise’. Michael Pembroke, Arthur Phillip, Sailor, Mercenary, Governor, Spy, Hardie Grant Book, 2013

Britain’s invasion of New Holland following so closely on the heels of the American War of Independence (1775-1783) falls within the strategic planning arc for the 1793-1802 phase of the age-old Anglo-French struggle for supremacy over both land and sea.

French money, men and munitions won America her independence. Led by General George Washington America’s Patriot rag-tag militia could not have defeated Britain without the support of France.

Britain’s loss of her thirteen (13) American colonies via the Treaty of Versailles (1783) made further conflict with cock-of-the-walk France inevitable. By 1790 war between these arch-rivals was edging ever closer.

1790

1790 – 1 January, Sydney:We the [Englishmen of the ‘First Fleet’] have been entirely cut off…no communication whatever having passed with our native country since the 13th May 1787, the day of our departure from Portsmouth…..the misery and horror of such a situation cannot be imparted, even they those who have suffered under it. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

Although the previous year, April-May 1789, smallpox had killed 50% of Sydney’s Aborigines, taking significant pressure off local food resources, Tench says; ‘starvation was approaching with gigantic strides’. See: Dead Aborigines Don’t Eat

‘Not one case of the disorder occurred among the white people either afloat or on shore although there were several  [upwards of [50] children in the settlement’. Samuel Bennett. ibid. See: Smallpox – A Lethal Weapon Boston 1775 – Sydney 1789

From a look-out erected on South Head [Tench];every morning  from daylight until dusk did we sweep the horizon in the hope of seeing a sail…the misery and horror of our situation cannot be understood even by those who have suffered under it’. See: Abandoned and Left to Starve @ Sydney Cove January 1788 to June 1790

1790 – 6 March, Norfolk Island: Still no relief ships from England. Phillip drew on the 1789 smallpox experience that eliminated one-half of Sydney’s Aboriginal families and evacuated 50% of ‘his people’ men, women and children to Norfolk Island where a satellite outpost had been established in February 1788.

China: It was planned HMS Sirius, after landing her evacuees on the island, was to sail onto China where Captain John Hunter RN would  buy food and arrange a rescue mission.

1790 – 19 March, Norfolk Island: But Sirius caught in ‘pounding surf on every side’ swung on her anchor struck a submerged reef and sank. ‘Happily, however captain Hunter, and every other person belonging to her, were saved’ but now marooned.

1790 – 5 April, Sydney: HMS Supply had accompanied Sirius to Norfolk Island, she returned to Sydney with the bad news, no China rescue.

Without delay Phillip ordered Supply sail to Batavia (modern -day Jakarta) to buy supplies and charter a large vessel to bring them to Sydney. It was a desperate move – no Supply no trawling – even fewer fish. See: Missing in Action – HMS Sirius & HMS Supply

1790 – 17 April, Jakarta: When Supply departed for Jakarta the weekly ration; ‘to every child more than eighteen months old and to every grown person..2 pounds pork, 2½ pounds flour, 2 lbs. rice, or a quart of [dried] pease…a bare sufficiency to preserve life…the pork…salted between 3-4 years and rice were brought with us from England, every grain of rice was a moving body, from the inhabitants lodged within it’. Tench. ibid.

1790 – 3 June, Sydney:  A ship with London on her stern’- Lady Juliana dubbed ‘The Brothel Ship’ with two hundred and twenty-six (226) ‘useless’ female prisoners, was first of four (4) ships of a second fleet.

Justinian, an accompanying lone store-ship, caught in the vortex of a typical winter ‘east-coast low’, very nearly went the way of HMS Guardian Australia’s Titanic . See: Sir Joseph Bank’s Garden & HMS Guardian

1790 – June, Sydney: By the end of June Neptune, Suprize, Scarborough, the second fleet’s ‘hell’ ships arrived.

Contracted to Camden, Calvert and King a firm of prominent London slave-traders the 2nd fleet convicts were kept locked below decks throughout the voyage.

Starved and treated with savage brutality of its one thousand (1000) mainly male prisoners embarked at Plymouth, 25% died on the passage.

Upon being brought up to the open air…all full of filth and lice…not able to walk…move hand or foot; such were slung over the ships’ side in the same manner as they would sling a cask, a box, or something of that nature…some died upon the deck and others in the [row] boats before they reached the shore’. Chaplain Richard Johnson, cited Jack Egan, Buried Alive, Allen & Unwin, 1999

‘The misery I saw is unexpressible’ – given the First Fleet Chaplain’s account it is little wonder a further 15% died soon after landing. See: Britain’s Grim Armada – The Dead and the Living Dead

The settlement’s medicine-cupboard was almost bare. The many sick plus another thousand (1000) empty stomachs, placed enormous stress on the starving settlement.

‘The extra mouths to feed, the hundreds who landed sick, the fact that many of the newcomers were too old or infirm to work and the disruptions created by a fresh injection of criminal elements added to [Phillip’s] immediate problems’. Pacific Explorations. ibid.

Phillip ordered an increase in the number of official fishing, hunting and gathering parties of armed convicts and soldiers that from day one – January 1788 – had been vital for the survival of ‘his people’.

‘The great change came in the arrival with the Second Fleet [June 1790] of the first companies of the New South Wales Corps’. Nigel Rigby, Peter van der Merwe, Glyn Williams, Pacific Explorations, Voyages of Discovery from Captain Cook’s Endeavour to the Beagle, Bloomsbury, Adlard Coles, London, 2018

The second fleet also brought a detachment of infantry troops, one hundred and fifteen (115) officers and men – first contingent of the New South Wales Corps.

[Among them] Lieutenant John Macarthur – a central figure in the military ‘mafia’ which quickly established itself as Australia’s first governing and property-owning elite’. Pacific Explorations. ibid.

In the last decade of the 19th century it proved difficult to attract takers for deployment on the other side of the planet. Their commander Major Francis Grose, a veteran of the American war, remained in London to recruit numbers sufficient to meet establishment requirements.

Even before leaving England officers of the Corps had fractured broadly along a pro-anti Macarthur axis.

On arriving in Sydney the ambitious and ruthless junior officer took advantage of deep divisions that had developed among his seniors during the pitiless voyage. He seized his moment and moved swiftly to fill the power vacuum created by Grose’s absence.

When all the talk was of war with France close at hand across the Channel what had drawn a young John Macarthur, driven by over-arching ambition very little money and a pregnant wife, chance his arm fifteen thousand miles (15,000 miles) – 23,000 km – from England?

‘There had been plans to use the corps in expeditions against Panama, Peru and the Philippines, but nothing eventuated’. Dr Peter Stanley, The Remote Garrison, The British Army in Australia 1788-1870, Kangaroo Press, Sydney 1986

This writer believes Macarthur was dazzled by the prospect of immense wealth. Far off New South Wales was not only a jumping off point to India and China, but now via the southern oceans, Spain’s South American treasure colonies were vulnerable to attack.

‘Landowners naturally came first in any description of the class structure of England…Land was the source of political power and social prestige’. ‘The Good Old Cause – The English Revolution of 1640-1660. Extracts from Contemporary Sources ed. Christopher Hill and Edmund Dell, 2nd Ed. 1969

Land – when Macarthur landed at Sydney with a wife and child he saw a clean slate and on it wrote a large life. In the turbulent process Macarthur gained wealth, prestige, created a dynasty and, as first among ‘Australia’s property-owing elite’, the status he craved.

John Macarthur was the common denominator in the downfall of Governor Phillip’s immediate successors the three (3) ‘autocratic naval governors’ – John Hunter, Phillip Gidley King and Captain William ‘Bounty’ Bligh. See: Dark Matter Mc Mafia Macarthur 

‘A knowledge of the position of the military and their immediate friends occupies…affords a key to the whole history of the colony; and without this knowledge many important transactions, affecting the civil, social  and political interests of the community would appear almost incomprehensible’. Samuel Bennett, Australian Discovery and Colonisation’. Vol. 1 to 1800, Facsimile ed. 1981

1790

When the second fleet arrived in June 1790 Sydney Harbour was empty of Royal Navy ships. ‘Sydney’ it was said ‘did not look like a fortress’.

Where were the fortifications, redoubts, gun emplacements? There was nothing that would make an infantryman feel comfortable.

The marines of 1788, a spent force, paraded in tattered uniforms without shoes. Everyone was starving most garrison officers hated not only each other but Captain-General Governor Arthur Phillip RN in particular. Take Two – Rules of Engagement

1790 – September, Manly: ‘A monster’ migrating whale stranded on Manly Beach a mere three (3) months after the second fleet arrived. See: Manly – Location, Location, Location

Whale, the local Indigenous community’s totem, signposted the return of abundance. Tench says many Aborigines gathered on the sand and greeted it with ‘rapture’.

The beaching also galvanised Phillip whose salt-water career began hunting whales in the Arctic. He was rowed across to Manly to see if it was a ‘baleen sperm whale’.

If it was the animal prized for its pristine oil Phillip had ticked another box that drove Britain’s invasion of New Holland.

‘It seems clear that only a few men in the inner circle of [William] Pitt’s government knew the exact purposes of the settlement’. Professor Geoffrey Blainey, Gotham City, The Founding of Australia. The argument about Australia’s origins. Ed. Ged Martin, Hale and Iremonger, 1978

Hawkesbury, Dundas, Mulgrave, Liverpool, Prime Minister Pitt’s favoured ‘few’ whose names are writ large on Sydney’s landscape.

Meantime, September 1790 at Manly, Governor Phillip and Willeemarin, an Aboriginal from Broken Bay, approached each other. Willeemarin had every reason to fear Phillip.

They met on the very spot where earlier, on two (2) separate occasions, three (3) Aboriginal warriors had been kidnapped on Phillip’s orders. See: Manly – Location, Location

Firstly Arabanoo who died of smallpox while a prisoner, later Colbee and Bennalong who escaped. All three (3) were seized and held captive for months within British lines.

So when Phillip ‘threw down a dirk he wore at his side’ Willeemarin speared him through the shoulder and melted away.

The Governor, with the spear stuck fast, was rowed back to Sydney where William Balmain the chief surgeon removed it. Phillip lost a lot of blood so recovery was slow. Understanding and owning his contribution to the attack, Phillip ordered there be no reprisals.

Macarthur and ‘certain officers’ read Phillip’s response wrongly. Some saw it as appeasement, weakness, even cowardice in face of the enemy. Macarthur saw it as an opportunity to make a grab for power and Phillip knew it.

1790 – 19 October, Sydney: By the middle of October HMS Supply had returned from Jakarta. ‘Joy’ was tempered by grief.

Malaria had claimed many of her crew including young Lieutenant Newton-Fowell RN, the fleet’s highly regarded letter-writer (The Sirius Letters), who died on the return passage.

Lieutenant Ball RN reported he had purchased tons of food and chartered Waaksamheyd a Dutch vessel ‘to bring the provisions he had purchased for the colony’.

1790 – November, Sydney: Meanwhile Phillip’s passive reaction to Willeemarin’s attack had not worked quite as well as he had hoped.

By the middle of November, while Tench could write ‘with the natives we are hand in glove’ he went to say starving Aborigines,  ‘clamour for bread and meat…are now become very troublesome. God knows, we have little enough for ourselves’!

Supply had bought some medicines and flour but far too little to make much difference. Phillip could only hope the chartered ‘Waaksamheyd’ would arrive before food ran out completely.

‘The casks in the storehouse, I [Tench] yesterday observed…are woefully decreased…if [the] Dutch snow does not arrive soon it [ration] must be shortened’.

1790 – 1 December, Sydney: Still no Waaksamheyd all hope was gone. Phillip was painfully aware Macarthur and ‘certain officers’ were circling the tents.

Isolated in the midst of a hostile military, Phillip had only one (1) shot in the locker – intelligence. He knew local Aborigines held ‘hatred’ for John McIntyre his own personal game-keeperSee:  A Tethered Goat – John Mc Intyre 

1790 – 9 December, Botany Bay: ‘ On the 9th of the month, serjeant of marines, with three convicts among whom was M’Entire, the governor’s game-keeper (the person of whom Ban-ee- lon had, [a prisoner] on former occasions, shewn so much  dread and hatred) went out on a [kangaroo] shooting party [to Botany Bay]’. Tench. ibid.

Tench was told in the early hours of the 10th; ‘one of them [Aborigines] launched his spear at M’Entire and lodged it in his left side. The person who committed this wanton act, was described as a young man, with a speck, or blemish, on his left eye’. 

11 December, Sydney: When the hunting party returned with the wounded John McIntyre Governor Phillip was a few miles away at the new settlement of Rose Hill.

13 December, Headquarters: On arriving back in Sydney Phillip summoned Tench and gave these orders; ‘be ready to march tomorrow morning at daylight to execute the command…put ten (10) to death…bring in the heads of the slain…bring away two (2) prisoners…I [Phillip] am resolved to execute the prisoners…in the most public and exemplary manner, in the presence of as many of their countrymen as can be collected’.

In Phillip’s judgement New South Wales was at stake, his enemy was within.

To save the settlement from military insurrection and anarchy, with only one arrow – intelligence – in his quiver, Phillip chose diversion. Draw fire, emphasise a common enemy, the ‘native’. See: John Mc Intyre Death of A Sure Thing 

‘Our [Britain’s] wealth and power in India is their [France’s] great and constant object of jealously; and they will never miss an opportunity of attempting to wrest it out of our hands’. Sir James Harris, cited Michael Pembroke. 2013

Phillip’s response to McIntyre’s spearing was that of a proven strategist with a deep knowledge of French ambition and whose loyalty to king, country and empire was non-negotiable.

A known assailant, Pemulwuy the ‘young man with the blemish on his left eye’, had speared John McIntyre.

At this point it is important to understand John McIntyre was still living when Phillip gave his orders on the 13th of December 1790 and repeated them without alteration on the 22nd of December. McIntyre died on the 21st of January 1791.

The innocent along with the guilty, then as now collective punishment, was illegal. Tench knew it and showed it; ‘here the governor stopped, and addressing himself to me, said, if I [Tench] could propose any alternation of the orders’.

Tench’s ‘proposal’ modified the scope of Phillip’s orders yet; ‘his excellency added if six [6] cannot be taken, let this number be shot’. 

14 December, Botany Bay: At 4 am a detachment of fifty (50) officers and men; ‘provided with three days’ provisions, ropes to bind our prisoners with and hatchets and bags to cut off and contain the heads of the slain’ set out for Botany Bay. See: Lieutenant William Dawes the ‘Eternal Flame’ & Universal Terror

17 December, Sydney: At dawn three (3) days later Waaksamheyd sailed through the Heads. Immediately on coming to anchor bills of lading were handed over and an army of willing hands began unloading; ‘171 barrels of beef, 172 barrels of pork, 39 barrels of flour, 1000 pounds weight of sugar and 70,000 pounds weight of rice’. 

That same afternoon  – the 17th – Tench’s weary detachment returned to a quite different settlement from the one they had left just a day or so before.

And they came empty-handed with no prisoners and no heads. For Phillip that should have been the end of using the Bidjigal of Botany Bay as a stalking-horse but it was not. See: Lieutenant William Dawes the ‘Eternal Flame’ & ‘Universal Terror’

22 December: ‘Our first expedition having so totally failed, the governor resolved to try the fate of a second; and the ‘painful pre-eminence’ again devolved on me. The orders under which I [Tench] was commanded to act differing in no respect from the last’.

Y

Hope radically changed the settlement’s dynamic. Waaksamheyd proved a double- edged sword. Her very presence brought hope, of seizure, rebellion and hope of escape.

The Sirius’ cannon were at Dawes Battery. To lighten the flagship they were removed before she sailed for Africa in October 1788 to buy food from the Dutch at the Cape of Good Hope.

Now in 1790, in the hands of the few trusty navy men Phillip had available, their presence neutralised seizure.

We do know escape was realised. Nine (9) convicts, with help from Deter Smidt, Waaksamheyd’s master, stole Governor Phillip’s cutter and with two (2) small children, rowed to Timor.  See: James Boswell Goes Into Bat for the Botany Bay Escapees

1790 – 24 December, Sydney: On Christmas Eve 1790 Tench’s troops returned from the second raid. Failure again  – no heads no prisoners.

A high-profile publication – 2013 – not only omitted mention of the second raid altogether the author characterised the first raid as a bit of fun; ‘a charade’.

Nothing could be further from the truth and it is to Watkin Tench; ‘setting down the simple truth, and not say[ing[ anything from love or hatred’ who tells us so.

1790 – December, Sydney: ‘But if we could not retaliate on the murderer of M’Entire, we found no difficulty in punishing offences committed within our own observation…two natives were detected in robbing a potato garden…soldiers were dispatched in pursuit… their ardour  transported them so far that instead of capturing the offenders, they fired in among them leaving one…Ban-g-ai…dead’.

Governor Phillip’s illegal General Orders of 13 and 22 December 1790 served as ‘rules of engagement’ for ‘twenty-five regiments of British infantry that served in the colonies between 1790 and 1870.

They fought in one of the most prolonged frontier wars in the history of the British empire, and for the first half of their stay were probably more frequently in action than the garrison of any other colony besides that of southern Africa’. Dr Peter Stanley. ibid.

The invasion and conquest of New Holland in 1788 was no shot in the dark.

‘New Holland is a blind, then, when we want to add to the military strength in India. I need not enlarge on the benefit of stationing a large body of troops in New South Wales’. Anon, Historical Records New South Wales, Vol 1

All the evidence points to New Holland being an informed, considered rational decision on the part of Prime Minister William Pitt’s ‘inner circle’ of government. Hawkesbury, Mulgrave, Sydney, Pitt, Liverpool, Nepean, Dundas are constant reminders of Pitt’s intent.

‘Historians desiring to write the actions of men ought to set down the simple truth, and not say anything from love or hatred…In commending or disallowing the actions of men, it is a course very requisite to consider the beginning, the proceeding and the end; so shall we see the reasons and causes of things and not their events only, which for the most part are governed by fortune’. Sir Walter Raleigh, cited The Good Old Cause. ibid.

In December 1790 Governor Phillip depended on the notion; ‘never lose sight of’ the end game ‘India is the first quarter to be attacked’ when, with his back to the wall, he ordered; ‘if six [6] cannot be taken let this number be shot’.

EPILOGUE

‘Still it is impossible that [H.M.] government should forget that the original aggression was ours’. Lord Russell, Historical Records. ibid.  See: A Continuing Connection 

2019: Brexit: The collapse of the United Kingdom might well be nigh. The ‘simple truth..ought to be set down’ for with disintegration of the Union will go accountability from ‘that government’ for its ‘original aggression’.

And as yet there has been no ‘contemplation’ for the harm done nor ‘deep commiseration’ for ‘prospects’ destroyed.

‘So shall we see the reasons and causes of things…set down the simple truth’ Britain + France + America + China + India + Spain + Peru + New Holland = European Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply