A Letter from the Ballarat Diggings - 1854
One of the Miners killed at Eureka
A transcript of a letter provided in Nov. 1998 by - Louis
A gt gt grandson of Michael Hynes, brother of John.
John HYNES (spelt HAYNES on the Eureka Memorial in Ballarat) was one of the miners killed in the stockade on 3 Dec 1854 and the nature of his death was recalled by Michael CANNY, another stockade veteran in a report to 'The Argus' on 3rd December, 1904 which is reproduced in the book 'Eureka Reminiscences' by Ballarat Heritage Services.
Mr Michael Canny, Ascot Street, Ballarat, was severely wounded in the Eureka Stockade fight, and has a clear recollection of what happened.
"My brother Patrick, who is now a farmer at Bungaree, and I were in the stockade fight. I was a young fellow of 18 or 19. When the fight began Teddy Moore, John Hines, my brother and I were standing behind a dray turned up on its heels, with the shafts in the air. It was bright moonlight, and we saw the redcoats blazing away at us. I had my own rifle and fired several shots. I saw Captain Wise fall, and a couple of soldiers take him by the shoulders and drag him behind a mullock heap. Teddy Moore and John Hines fell dead beside us. Then my brother was hit with a bullet, which splintered his shin bone, and he was stretched out. I had my rifle ready for another shot when a bullet pierced my right arm, went in at my side, and out under the breast-bone. It did not hurt, but the blood spurted out, and scared me, I threw the rifle down and went over the stockade fence like a deer, and ran like a racer over the hill towards Pennyweight Flat where our tents were. In the early morning light I could see two troopers coming towards me. There were a cluster of tents near by with a break-wind of brushwood round them. I ran for them and crawled under the brushwood until the troopers passed, and then made for my tent. My sister-in-law was in the neighbouring tent and she brought a cloth and a bucket of water, and I pulled off my shirt, and kept bathing the wound in my side with water to try and stop the bleeding. Someone carried word to Dr Carr that I was wounded, and he came along during the morning and dressed the wound. My brother was taken with the prisoners, and went to the camp hospital, where he remained six or seven weeks. We were in a great state of terror for days after the fight. All sorts of rumours were flying about that we were going to be all shot and the tents burned. On the morning Sir Robert Nickle came on to the field with over 800 men, and the field guns, two or three days after the fight, I was lying in the bunk with only my shirt and trousers on. As I saw the troops filing along the road I thought, like a young fool, that the end was near. Bare-headed and bare-footed as I was, I bolted for the bush, towards Warrenheip. My feet gave me more pain than my side, so I ran breathless into the scrub. I went back in the afternoon to the tent hardly able to walk, my feet were so badly cut. I had a bad time for months with the wound in my side. It was nearly a year before it properly healed, and I was able for work again. We lost our claim, windlass, buckets, ropes, and tools and nearly 2000 slabs which went to build the stockade, when it was burnt by the soldiers. Before I left the stockade I saw Lalor stagger and drop his gun, and stoop quickly to pick it up with the other hand, but I did not know till afterwards that he was then wounded."
'The Argus', Saturday 3 December, 1904
John HYNES, who was obviously well educated wrote a letter to his family back in Ireland from the Ballarat Diggings in March 1854, nine months prior to his death in the stockade at Eureka. A summary of John's family can be located from the following link:
John Hynes's Family
John Hynes's Letter
24 March 1854
Balaarat Diggings, March 24th 1854
My dearest Michael,
I dare say you will be surprised why I never answered your letter of the same date last year as mine of the present one, but as I mentioned in the letter to my mother, I did not receive yours, indeed it was only about a fortnight ago that I got it enclosed in a letter from William Arthur, it was given to him by Miss Thornhill and I suppose lay there for four or five months. God grant that this may not be so long before it comes to hand if so. I hope with the blessing of the Almighty to be home almost as soon as it, as I intend starting about next Christmas or perhaps before that time if I happen to have any more luck between this and then, indeed as I mentioned in my letter to Anna I have been very fortunate since I came to Balaarat having made about fifteen hundred pounds worth of gold besides a few hundred which I made at Bendego, during the time I was there which is more than a farmer could make at home in several years.
I was glad to learn that you got spliced and I think from my short acquaintance with Miss Kearin and the character I have got from those who knew her intimately, that she is well calculated to make an agreeable partner through life. I guess (as uncle Mick would say) that I will be the uncle of a brace or two of little fellow by the time we meet again and that you will be building an addition to your cottage: now that you are out of the way I suppose my time comes next and I will feel obliged if you would throw your eye about and see where I might get a suitable mate, when I get back. A great point in my favour is that she would be a gold digger's lady which might go a great way with the fair sex.
We hear of nothing in this colony just now spoken of except the war between Turkey and Russia. I read last night of a naval engagement between the opposing stations in the Bay of Sinape and from the newspaper account I am led to suppose that it was a most cowardly attack on the part of the Russians and that the Turks fought most manfully against fearful odds.
I expect provisions and everything in fact will be very high in consequence of this war, if so, farmers will be making rapid fortunes and I hope the Hynes will be among the number so that you will all be more wealthy than the gold finders of Australia. Indeed, it is time that Ireland should again hold up her long drooping head and flourish after so great a continuance of adversity. May I find a great improvement in every aspect when I return and may I never die til I see her once more assume her place among the nations of Europe and the bright side of the picture be turned up for believe me the further a man is removed from the country that gave him birth, the more his heart warms towards her at least so I find it in my own case.
Emigration seems to be still on the increase to this country. Crowds are pouring in every other week, and a great number are Irish. The population must be a good deal thinned by this time and as in the time of Barnabus, I think a premium should be given to those who have more children in order to people again an island which is almost deserted.
I would like when next you write that you would give me every information about the state of the country and that you would send me some newspapers. I am in utter ignorance about home affairs, having scarcely ever seen an Irish paper since I landed here. Let me also know how all my friends are getting on as noting would give me greater pleasure than to hear of their prosperity. I wrote to Pat a few weeks ago advising him very strongly to come out to this colony as medical men are making fortunes here, disease being very prevalent, particularly amongst children in spite of all that you hear about the fineness of the climate and knowing that he is a man of some cleverness at his profession, I think he could do better than by remaining amongst the English who are too full of bigotry and prejudice to appreciate the talent of any Irishman but here men are respected according as they deserve without any regard to country or persuasion. Besides he is so much estranged from his family as if he lived twenty thousand miles away from them instead of being only thirty six hours journey from home.
How then to conclude: give my love to my brother James, Anna, Elisa, sister Susan, Doctor Hynes, Uncle Mick, Sarah, young Michael, Aunt Healy, Mrs Ryan and uncle Mr Coffey (bye the bye I heard that he was removed from our house which I should be sorry to hear of as he is really a very worthy clergyman) and to all my old friends and believe me ever to be, your attached brother,
John J Hynes.