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Smyth, Thomas (1835–1864)

from Star (Ballarat, Vic)

We are indebted to the editor of the Albury Banner and Wodonga Express for the following: 'We have another outrage to report this week in connection with bushranging in this district, with which there is no doubt the murderer Morgan is closely associated, and which is only of a character with his recent villanies. Last Sunday evening Senior Sergeant [Thomas] Smyth, with three troopers named Connors, Baxter, and Bead, were encamped for the night on the Doodal Swamp, about a mile and a half from Mr Keighran's station on the Doodal Cooma run. They were lying and resting on the ground inside the tent, which was a kind of skillion gunyah open in front, and before the opening they had made up a fire for the night, and were chatting about Morgan. Smyth had just made arrangements about the men keeping watch by turns, as he had reason to believe that he was on Morgan's track, when suddenly, without a word or a signal of any kind, a volley of bullets came into the tent, both from the opening and through the back. The men all jumped to their feet and rushed outside. It was perfectly dark, being about nine o'clock, and the moon, only a few days old, had set. Not an object was discernible, and not a voice heard, but the moment Sergeant Smyth and Connors fired almost simultaneously, almost wildly, but in the direction they presumed the firing had come from. The shots were returned, and the firing continued on both sides. As Sergeant Smyth was cocking for his third shot, he felt that his left arm was powerless, and that he was wounded. He turned faint and fell to the ground, and remembers no more of what occurred for an hour or two. The others made a skirmish into a thick scrub, where, they were camped, but, unfortunately, without being able to come up to their cowardly assailants, and on returning they found poor Smyth, insensible, and bleeding profusely. It proved that he had been hit by a bullet in the left shoulder, the ball striking over the left breast and passing out at his back. As soon as possible Smyth was got up into the home station, and next morning Mr Keighran despatched a man to drive his dogcart with Smyth to Merritt's public house, so that he might get into Albury, and have medical assistance. But Sergeant Smyth's troubles were not ended. The man entrusted to drive him, from some unaccountable cause, lost himself in the bush, and, after fruitlessly travelling many miles over the roughest of ground, had to acknowledge that he did not know where he was. Night came on, and they had to camp without a blanket or a morsel of food. Smyth directed the man to prop up the dog-cart, so that he might endeavor to get a little rest in it until daylight; but after a time the prop stick gave way, and the unfortunate fellow was thrown out, and severely shaken and bruised. Next day (Tuesday), with daylight, they started again, and about eleven o'clock reached Garry's Hotel and mail station. Rather curiously, Superintendent McLerie, who had left Albury on Sunday on sick leave, was on his way to Sydney, and came up to Garry's soon after Smyth got there. He instantly sent a man on to Albury, forty miles distant. The news reached Albury by four o'clock, and Dr Wilkinson went out, followed by Mr Sub-inspector Morrow, who reached Garry's, at the Ten Mile Creek, by ten o'clock, Mr Superintendent McLerie returning to Albury by the mail in the morning, he suffering so much from rheumatism as to be unable to ride. Sub-inspector Morrow went in pursuit, and Smyth was brought to Albury by easy stages, in charge of Dr Wilkinson, arriving yesterday. He appears cheerful, and gives his account of the dastardly attack with great clearness. He believes that Morgan had ascertained that he was on his track, and that he and some of his gang, for he thinks there must have been at least three, had stolen up to the tent after the moon had set, and having fastened up their horses at a short distance, crawled through the scrub up to the tent, and, having made a survey, fired into it simultaneously. Smyth does not know whether he was hit from the first volley or not, and as all the firing occupied only a few moments, thinks it might have been from a shot outside. He gives his companions credit for great courage and coolness; and Baxter seems to have had a narrow escape. He heard a bullet, one of the first three, whizz close by his ear, and found it next morning in the ground exactly where his head was lying. At least nine or ten shots were fired altogether by the ruffians, and the sergeant thinks they were armed with carbines, from the bullets. Such is the account of the latest outrage. Only a few weeks since we had to chronicle the attack at the Round-hill, then the cold-blooded murder of Sergeant Maginnity, and now it is no fault of the despicable wretches engaged in this affair, that more deaths have not been added to the list. Great sympathy is felt in Albury for Sergeant Smyth, who is a man of unquestioned courage and perseverance. He has been for months past in the bush, nearly always alone, in the hope of meeting Morgan, and we have often heard him say that if they did meet there would be only one left to tell the tale. We will only ask once more, when and where is all this to end?

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'Smyth, Thomas (1835–1864)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/smyth-thomas-15369/text26577, accessed 13 November 2019.

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