A Military Outrage

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A descendant of a Redcoat in the 96th Regiment Detachment of the Swan River Colony sent me an interesting account of an incident that took place in Launceston in 1845. The contents of the article presented a tantalising possibly: were any of the 96th Regiment detached to the Swan River Colony involved in this affair; very likely, as the incident occurred less than two years prior to Java bringing 111 men of the 96th Regiment garrisoned in Van Diemen’s Land to our Western Australian shores. While it is unlikely that any of the four officers or even five NCOs would have been involved, anyone in the ‘other ranks’ may have been.

When you read about this ‘military outrage’, you will note that nothing official seems to have come of it; no names, no pack drill, as they say. In that same period other things were occuring at the Launceston garrison of the 96th: a detachment was sent to Adelaide, and another to New Zealand to deal with growing disquiet between the Maori population on the North Island and the European settlers. Perhaps the military heirarchy had other things to worry about. Although it may not be mysterious that a ‘cover up’ took place (they happen all the time), more of a mystery is how and why the outrage happened in the first place.

Thank you Stefan Petrow for giving me permission for your article to be published as an ‘Anecdote’ on this website. The original first appeared in Tasmanian Historical Research Association Papers and Proceedings, 55 (3), 2008, pp. 183-92.  And thank you too, Sue Mills, for drawing my attention to the article.

Click here for an account of the military outrage involving the 96th Regiment of Foot which took place in Launceston in May 1845.


Diane Oldman 2020