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We extract the following particulars concerning the shooting of certain members of the military escort, near Te Awamutu, from the letter of the correspondent of the Southern Cross:—s :— Through the medium of the electric telegraph, I forwarded a few brief particular* of this shocking tragedy ; and as your readers are doubtless impatient to re^eke |h£ futtj particulars, I hasten to transmit them. Your^readers are probably already aware that the com. missariat supplies, clothing, &c, for the troops s'ationed at Te Awaaautu, Kihikibi, Rangiawhie, and Obaupo, are conveyed by steamer up the Waipa river to Te Rori, and thence by cartage, under escort, to Te Avamutu. But as the distance between these posts is too far for one escort to traverse the whole distance and return again the same day, the difficulty is obviated by a very simple and equitable arrangement, and escort being detailed from each extremity of the linr. On the occasion which forms the subject of my letter, the convoy was from Te Rori, the escort from Te Awamutu being composed as follows : — 1 sergeant, 1 cor* poral, 1 bugler, and 30 rank and .file, under the command of Ensign Gomez, 40th Regt. — the 40th and 65th Regiments furnishing proportionate numbers. . The escort proceeded as usual to a distance o' about four miles from Te Awamutu, and near the Maori redoubt (Ngapo). There Corporal Hammerton, of the 65th Regt. who had charge *of the rear guard, noticed that a private of the 40, named Donovan, was lagging behind, until he had become separated from the column by a space of about thirty or forty yards, and as he manifested no intention of rejoining the party, th«i corporal ordered him to do so. His reply was, that if the corporal did not go away -he" would' shoot Jbjm, and as if to show that he was in desperate earnest, and would carry the threat into execution if the corporal attempted to enforce the command, he had his rifle capped and at the tull cock. Corporal Hammerton left and reported the circumstance to the commanding officer, who ordered the column to halt, and, D movan still refusing to fall in, it was decided that the column should proceed, but, on passing the Maori redoubt (Ngapn), four, stout fellows were to hide in the ditch, Donovan being expected to follow the column, when, arriving at the ambuscade, he would fall an easy prey to the men in the ditch, who would suddenly pounce upon and endeavour to seize -him, with* out bloodshed. * But the best laid "and most beneficial schemes of mortals sometimes unfortunately fail. Scarcely had tbe column moved when one of the men on looking round, observed that Donovan had his rifle at the "present," and was aiming deliberately at the column ; he immediately shouted "look out," and almost ere the warning cry had escaped his lips, the scoundrel Donovan fired. The ball struck private John Smith, 65th, in the,righr thigh, cut through his groin, and passed out, then struck private Richardson, 40th, in, the wrist, and finally striking private D. Rogers, 40th, in the right thigh, and lodging just above the knee joint ; two of these men (the most severely wounded) 'ell to the ground. Then Donovan fixed his bayone% and tbe officer in command, knowing that the ca<\e required decisive action in order to prevent the ruffian from reloading* and doing further mischief, ordered the escort to form" a eemi-circle, and approach and disarm him. The men rushed forward impetuously, and one of them, a private in the 65th, closed with Dano?an, but having', in the excitement and confusion of the moment, neglected to take the precaution of fixing his bayonet, he was consequently fighting at a tremendouajiisadvantage, and probably the contest would not have been of a very long duration but for the timely intervention of another. The officer and sergeant had shouted to the men to take the wretched prisoner without injuring him, but, in the confusion /and tumult of tbe moment tbe command was unheard, a circumstance that need not excite our.surprise when ire consider the suddenness of the attack, and the feelings of exasperation which. such diabolical acts as those of the infuriate luffian Donovan would call forth in the breasts of any men, however much discipline may have taught them coolness in moments of danger. Two unfortunate victims to the villain's ferocity lay weltering in their blood, and still he stood ready to increase the number. The man of the 65th who, with a couiage approaching to sheer madness, rushed on Donovan, without having taken the precaution of fixing hie bayonet, had just parried a well-aimed thrust, and was about to receive another deadlier, more rapidly aimed, full in his breatt, when a wild shout of •• Shoot him, shoot him !" arose, and instantly a rifle flashed, and the wretch Donovan fell upon hit f ace — a ball from the rifle of Private Thomas M'Coy bad penetrated his chest, and tbe man was a corpse. An inquest was held on the body of Donovan, when the jury returned the following verdict : — The Court, having duly weighed and considered the evidence, are of opinion that the deceased, private Jeremiah Donovan, came by his* death from a gunshot wound inflicted by private Thomas M'Coy, 40th Regiment, whilst the deceased was attempting to bayonet private Henry Travers, 65th Regiment, and are unanimously of opinion that private M'Coy was perfectly justified- in ?o doing, causing the act to be merely one of justifiable homicide.

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Bibliographic details

New Zealand Spectator and Cooks Strait Guardian, New Zealand Spectator and Cook's Strait Guardian, Volume XIX, Issue 2003, 12 October 1864

Word Count

THE FATAL ESCORT SHOOTING CASE. New Zealand Spectator and Cook's Strait Guardian, Volume XIX, Issue 2003, 12 October 1864