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Frederick (Fred) Ward (1835–1870)

We have great pleasure in being able to state that that pest of the Northern districts of New South Wales for many years, Frederick Ward alias Thunderbolt, has at last been got rid of, through the combined influence of one of his victims having had the good sense to give the police prompt intelligence of his whereabouts, and the gallant conduct of constable Walker in following him up until Ward, having refused to surrender, paid the penalty of his repeated outrages on the law by the sacrifice of his worthless life. 

"On Wednesday, May 20, Giovanni Cappasoti came into Uralla, and reported that he had been stuck-up near Mr. Blanch's public-house, on the Northern-road, about four miles from Uralla. Senior Constable Mulhall and Constable Walker immediately started off in pursuit, but Mulhall's horse being the faster one, he arrived at Blanch's about half-a-mile ahead of Walker. He there encountered two men on horseback, one of whom immediately fired at him. Mulhall fired back. The two men then turned down the fence towards Kentucky Creek. Constable Mulhall turned off towards Uralla, and met Walker, to whom he said, 'There are the bushrangers. I have exchanged shots with them. Shoot the wretches.' Constable Walker immediately galloped up. When the elder man of the two (Thunderbolt) saw him, he turned towards the road, but the younger man blocked him by crossing his horse. Thunderbolt then turned down the fence, with Constable Walker after him. Walker, in drawing his pistol, happened to discharge it by accident into the ground. Ward then turned and fired upon him. The chase was kept up through the bush for nearly an hour, Ward doubling and Walker following; across gully and creek, bog and hill, full tear, the pair dashed through the bush, until at last Ward pulled up alongside a waterhole in Kentucky Creek, near the junction of Chilcott's Swamp, dismounted, and plunged into a waterhole. Walker, who was close upon his heels, with admirable prudence immediately shot the bushranger's horse, and then galloped down the creek about two hundred yards until he could cross it. By the time this was accomplished Ward had crossed, and throwing off his coat started to run up the creek about 100 or 120 yards, until he came to a narrow channel about sixteen feet wide. This he dashed across, and, when he got on the other bank, stood and faced Walker, who by this time had arrived at the edge of the creek. There was now but the creek between them. Ward asked him who he was? Walker called upon him to surrender. Ward asked him his name. Walker told him, and in answer to other questions said that he was a trooper and a married man. Ward then told Walker to remember his family. Walker said he had considered all that, and called upon him to surrender. Ward answered, 'No! I'll die first.' Then said Walker, 'It is you and I for it,' and immediately dashed his horse into the creek. The horse went under, head and all. At that, moment Ward rushed towards Walker, evidently with the intention of pulling him off his saddle and grappling with him in the water. But at the critical moment Walker fired his last remaining shot, the ball entering under his left collar bone, then the armpit, passing through both lungs and coming out below the right shoulder blade. The effect of the shot was to make Ward fall into the water, but immediately afterwards he rose again, and endeavoured to seize Walker. Constable Walker then struck him violently on the forehead with his empty pistol, knocking him down. Walker then turned his horse out of the creek, and, dismounting, proceeded in and dragged the man out, apparently dead. He then rode back to Blanch's for assistance; but on proceeding thence with a horse and cart, he was unable to find the place. It was daylight, before the body was found, and brought up to Blanch's. 

"A magisterial inquiry was held by Mr. Buchanan, P.M., when the evidence was most conclusive as to the identification of the body with that of the man Frederick Ward, alias Thunderbolt. 

"At the conclusion of the inquiry, a testimonial to Constable Walker was set on foot, for the bravery he had displayed in following Ward alone, and bringing him to bay. £32 was subscribed in the room, Mr. George Western, J.P., heading the list with £20; and it is hoped that the whole northern portion of the colony will assist in thus rewarding merit. 

"A view of the ground, and the whole features of the case, at once testify to the cool bravery displayed by Walker. In shooting the bushranger's horse, and thus cutting off his chance of escape, he made the desperado more desperate still, and in following him up until it became a hand to hand encounter, Constable Walker braved every danger, intent on the one object—doing his duty, regardless of consequences to himself and thus has been the means of ridding this district of a scourge and a pest. 

"In thus following a man like Ward, Constable Walker also exhibited good horsemanship, or he would never have gained on the bushranger whilst following him through such a country as the chase for life led him to take. All honor to the brave!" 

Constable Walker, who has distinguished himself by his determination and bravery on this occasion, receives four hundred pounds reward from the Government of New South Wales. He is a native of the colony, his relatives residing in the Berrima district. Walker has also been promoted by the direction of the Colonial Secretary, and placed in charge of a station as a mark of the approval of the Government of his zeal and bravery.

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'Ward, Frederick (Fred) (1835–1870)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 May 2024.

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