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Ben Hall - How He Died (1911)

I will now give my readers a true account of Ben Hall and the shooting of him, and a few verses which I now give
upon the episode of poor Ben:--

Come all you highwaymen, a sorrowful tale I'll tell,
Concerning of a hero, who through misfortune fell;
His name it was Ben Hall, a chap of great renown,
He was hunted from his station, like a native dog shot down.

On the fifth of May, when parting from His comrades all along the highway,
It was at the Wedding Mountains those three outlaws did agree
Too give up bushranging, and cross the briny sea.

Then going to the billabong, which was his cruel downfall,
And riddled like a sieve was that hero, Ben Hall;
It was early in the morning, before the break of day,
The police, they surrounded him as fast asleep he lay.

The tracker, he was chosen to fire the fatal shot,
The rest then they rounded him to secure the prize they got;
They threw him on his horse, and strapped him like a swag,
And led him through the streets of Forbes to show the prize they had.

I remember May 5, 1865. (I have particular occasion to remember this, for I was very sick at the time, and had
been attended to by three doctors. I was suffering from a mishap caused from drawing water from a well on the
Weogo Station). I was staying at the Montgomery Hotel, at the corner of Rankin-street, opposite William Jones'
store. Jones was a lame man, and was known as 'Hoppy' Jones. I was sitting on the verandah front of the house
on the morning of May 5, as above stated. I saw some troopers coming along down the hill with a black tracker
from tbe Billabong. They passed the house where I was, Inspector Davidson leading the packhorse with
apparently a very large swag on his back, with a black poncho thrown over it. I saw the legs of a man dangling
down over the horse's shoulders. I soon discovered that it was Ben Hall, as I had seen his treacherous friend
the day before (Coobong Mick). The same evening Bill Hall (Ben's brother) came in to get his remains for to
bury him. I went to the hotel where they took him to. I went to see him, and when he was stripped from head to
foot he was a mass of gunshot wounds, principally the lower part of his body. Such a sight I never wished to
see again, for he was literally torn to pieces like an old torn red rag, caused by the number of shots flred
into him. We counted thirty-two gunshot wounds. This was the most cowardly and disgraceful business that could
possibly be done by men who figured in society, as civilised men, especially to be called Englishmen. He must
have been shot by five vollies after he was dead, for he offered no resistance, he being asleep at the time,
for he was never a very desperate man. One policeman, Jack Bowen, refused to fire, as he said, at a dead man.
The diggers afterwards stuck to him for his humane treatment, and he was discharged from the force. The troopers
and policemen must have been panic-stricken with fear. I moved from the place disgusted, with a horrible feeling
for revenge. That was the last I saw of Hall. He was buried next day by the side of his brother-in-law, John
Walsh (commonly called Warragal), and close to O'Mally, whom Mr. Campbell shot close to Eugowra, close to where
the gold escort was stuck up by the gang.


From the Sydney Newspaper the Truth Sunday 30 April 1911 p. 11.

See also The Streets of Forbes in this collection.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory