Under the Southern Cross we Stand, a sprig of Wattle in our hand

7 November 1854, the rot spreads
7 November 1854, Quamby Estate, near Hagley, Tasmania

The meeting of the three men might not have taken place at all if Sir William Dennison was still Governor of Tasmania, but he had left in some haste to deal with the rebellions sweeping British India to a new appointment was Governor of Madras in early October 1854. That left Richard Dry, as Speaker of the new Tasmanian Legislative Council, to exercise power as the Governor until such time as the replacement man, Sir Henry Young, was due to arrive from South Australia in January 1855.

Richard Dry had been replaced on the council by Adye Douglas and now Douglas, newly named Attorney General in the fledgling Eureka Republic and Richard Plantagenet- Brydges, son of the autocratic New South Wales Governor General, were sitting in his drawing room.

Richard Plantagenet- Brydges had spoken at length about the aims of the rebellion "...there can be no better time to conduct such an exercise, London are distracted by the twin threat of the Crimean War and a full scale Sepoy Mutiny. Whatever their feeling about us, they are far more concerned about events in India, then there are rebellions in Gambia, at the Cape, in Burma. In the East Indies Admiral Pellew suffers a mutiny and is searching for the Russian Fleet. We are right at the end of the line.

However, we badly need legitimacy, to move rapidly before new of events allow a response. That way we can present events as a fait accompli. We need to move on New South Wales. You can give us all those things."


"Legitimacy by another Colony joining. The men of Norfolk Island may join. It, is, after all part of Tasmania. More men, more arms, but more importantly via your ships we would control the sea lanes. You have two 28 gun frigates and three sloops of war, plus many smaller cutters, schooners, brigs and gunboats. This is our chance to chart our own course, to move away from being a dumping ground for England, to give all our citizens equal rights. We just need to size our future." Plantagenet stretched out his hand. Richard Dry took it.
22 November 1854, the dominos continue to fall
22 November 1854, Government House, corner North Terrace and King William Roads, Adelaide, Colony of South Australia

Sir Henry Young was at a loss, unsure of what to do. South Australia was in a unique position in that the Colony was created in 1836 specifically for the purpose of free settlement. As such, garrisons were not required as prison guards, unlike the other colonies. For that reason, there were no military units stationed in South Australia. A lack of any form of defense led to the creation of the Royal South Australian Volunteer Militia, consisting of an infantry company and two cavalry troops, but this had been disbanded in 1851 as not worth the expense on the public purse. Young himself had passed a Militia Act some four weeks prior, keen to get something in the works, especially in light of the revolt in India and the Crimean War. Yet, so far, nothing had been done. Young was due to leave and take up a position as Governor of Tasmania in January, yet the news that he had received over a week ago made it clear that this would not occur.

The colony was at a watershed. After the copper boom of the 1840s, the early 1850s saw South Australia in serious economic decline. The discovery of gold in Victoria saw a severe labour shortage in Adelaide, as workers left in droves to make their fortunes across the border. Most of these were English. The population expansion in Victoria, however, had led to a high demand for South Australian wheat. South Australia had more arable land, than any other state and wheat had for some time outstripped copper in regards exports. Nearly all of this went to Victoria and the colonies contact with the Duke of Buckingham's despotic(in Young's opinion) regime in Sydney as minimal at best.

Yet, as a colonial Governor, his duty was clear. Young had attempted to re-establish a militia to not only defend the colonies borders, but for use against the rebels in Victoria. It had been wildly unsuccessful. On the 17th, the sloops of war Tasmania had arrived off Outer Harbour, effectively blockading Adelaide and it's port. On the 20th, attempts to conduct a muster of volunteers for the formation of a militia had been broken up by street protests.

Since 1838, German immigrants had arrived in South Australia in ever increasing numbers, numbers that only increased after the 1848 revolutions in Europe, numbers being swelled by those disaffected by the traditional power dynamics in Europe. These German immigrants were prominent in South Australia, moving into wine production and farming, indeed all aspects of life. By 1854, these numbered over 11,000, or over 10% of the population. This section of the community were against any adventures in Victoria, especially in the service of external powers and at the command of the New South Wales Governor. Their allies were a strange mixture. The man responsible for advancing the planning, creation and early settlement of South Australia was Quaker Edward Gibbon Wakefield. Quakers were among the earliest free settlers in South Australia, attracted for economic reasons and by its founding idea – freedom of religion. They were also pacifists, fervently against sending any militia to fight in Victoria.

The last groups interests were more self serving, but contained much power within the colony. Duncan Macfarlane was typical of those. A Scottish landholder, he had received 4,000 acres in 1838 and steadily increased his holdings. Macfarlane was appointed a Justice of Peace for the Province of South Australia and presided over the Mount Barker Magistrates Court for a considerable number of years. He, like many other prominent landowners, relied almost totally on exports to Victoria to maintain profitability in their operations.

Violent demonstrations outside Government House on the 22nd and a meeting with Macfarlane the following day was enough to make up the mind of Young. He was to resign due to "ill health" on the 24th as Governor, replaced by Duncan Macfarlane. The following morning, he was to invite Commander Richard Goldsmith of the Tasmania to Government House, confirming that South Australia would join Victoria and Tasmania in rebellion.
1 December 1854, I have a solution
1 December 1854, Government House, Sydney, Colony of New South Wales

Richard Plantagenet Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, Governor of New South Wales and Governor General of Australasia, could scarce believe the progress of events. This concerted rebellion had spread to three states. Now he had to face the possibility it would go further. It placed him in an invidious position. His own political friends in London had just enough influence to allow a continuation of the status quo, however, in view of the current woes of the British Empire, with war in Crimea and rebellion in India, his support was at best tenuous. That support ensured a steady flow of convicts, convicts his supporters in New South Wales used in their businesses and in their agricultural enterprises.

Sitting at the top of that tree had seen him prosper. He had repaid almost a million Pounds that he had been in debt when he arrived and was now a similar amount to the good, courtesy of land grants in his own favour and the dispensation of favours to others. Why his son was too foolish to see this he could not fathom. He was not an unintelligent man and was fully aware that New South Wales had become almost a police state for those that had the necessary wealth, power and social position. Yet, all this served a purpose. Those that were transported still led better lives than most would back in England and there still existed a path to a free ticket, albeit a more lengthy one than ten years ago.

Then had came gold to Victoria and the rise of the abolitionists, Germans to South Australia, Chinese to Victoria and Tasmania, plus, of course, the negative influence brought by convicts themselves, so many of them Irish. This had emboldened many of the ungrateful wretches he was surrounded by. However, to openly be in revolt against the crown was unthinkable. He wanted to go back to England, when he had dipped his beak in the profits to be found to a sufficient degree. Yet he wanted to go back on his own terms. It would not do to have representatives from Parliament poking around and questioning his actions. There was no question that news of this rebellion reaching London would involve the dispatch of men and forces to find out exactly what was happening here in Australia. That would engender the sort of questions that he had no easy answer for. Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia were in rebellion. That left New South Wales, Queensland, Norfolk Island and New Caledonia under his control. He did not could Western Australia and North Australia, both to remote and too sparsely populated. New Zealand was another matter. Nominally under his suzerainty, it was another Colony he considered politically unreliable.

The one advantage of being a police state was that most of the 99th Regiment of foot, aside from detached forces on New Caledonia and at Moreton Bay, were based in and around Sydney. He could short circuit a reaction from London by presenting the problem as already being solved. He could not avoid telling London of the rebellion, his duty was clear there. Yet, if he dispatched such a message on a slow ship, he could conduct a campaign to smash the rebels in Victoria, then dispatch a second message via a clipper that would present the issue as already resolved. He felt this the best approach. If so, he had to move quickly and to that end planned to move troops down the Great South Road, a grand name for something resembling a bullock track further South, diverting a smaller force by ships to a landing point at Flooded Plains, from there to advance on Melbourne from the East.
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Yet, if he dispatched such a message on a slow ship, he could conduct a campaign to smash the rebels in Victoria, then dispatch a second message via a clipper that would present the issue as already resolved. He felt this the best approach. If so, he had to move quickly and to that end planned to move troops down the Great South Road, a grand name for something resembling a bullock track further South, diverting a smaller force by ships to a landing point at Flooded Plains, from there to advance on Melbourne from the East.
What could possibly go wrong with this, I wonder...
25 December 1854 - The seige of Glenrowan
Extract from “The Autocratic Era- The end of the era”, Denly Press, 1951

In simple terms it was known as the Christmas Day massacre. It represented the fall of British power in Australasia and resulted in the destruction of any hope the Governor-General may have held of suppressing the tide of insurrection in the Antipodes. Right from the start, it was almost a textbook example of how not to conduct a military operation. In all fairness, Colonel John Hanbury's 99th Regiment of Foot and it's 390 men had a hard task, moving 465 miles, lugging equipment, food, four field guns, camp followers, a long 24 day slog just to get to the small settlement of Glenrowan, using the fields of Rowan farm to disperse his men, preferring to stay out of the nearby town of Wangaratta, since there was less opportunity for his men to get into trouble or desert, which three men had already during the march. From here, his men would pivot through Benalla, Shepparton, Bendigo and then Ballarat, before linking with Major Day's men and marching on Melbourne. It was a sound enough plan on paper, but it did not take into account a number of factors, first and foremost of which was how well equipped they had become, having had access to the barracks on both Melbourne and Tasmania and having large stocks of captured material. Some of the men from the former 11th Foot had also thrown in their lot with the rebels. It also did not take into account the ever rising morale of the men themselves. Nothing succeeds like success itself and Lalor had managed to weld together an unlikely coalition. Abolitionists, Irish Republicans, supporters of home rule, opponents of Buckingham, convicts, miners, shipbuilders, Lalor had appealed to them all, even striking agreements with Victorian and Tasmanian Chinese communities.

Lalor had been worried about the lack of training of his own troops, so had opted for a night engagement, where surprise may be easier to get and where fighting would be at much closer range, allowing numbers to come more into play. As night settled in, the troops moved closer to the 99th Regiment's camp site, finally attacking two hours before dawn. The supply wagon, brought in by a Chinese storekeeper from Wangaratta, already contained a surprise. A small bundle of dynamite next to a large box of Chines fireworks lay behind some sacks of grain. This was detonated as the attack commenced, panicking the horses of the 99th and adding to the confusion and lack of cohesion of John Hanbury's men.

The rebel forces numbered nigh on 1,000 men and they came out of the darkness and into the camp of the 99th ready and well equipped for hand to hand combat. It was an unequal contest right from the start. It was a bloody affair. The rebels were to lose 86 men, with 101 wounded. The 99th of Foot were to lose 128 dead, 91 wounded and 156 captured. A final stand was made at the Rowan barn and farmhouses, being dubbed "The Siege of Glenrowan", eventually resulting in all buildings being raised to the ground.

Two days later, an inconclusive engagement was fought outside Toorak between Major Day's force of almost 200 men and the Melbourne militia. It was to prove inconclusive, both sides suffering around 30 casualties. Two days later, after news of Hanbury's crushing defeat reached Day, as well as rumours that the main rebel army may be moving closer, he was to begin a long retreat back to Flooding Creek. When they arrived back on the 2nd January, it was to an unpleasant sight. Rebel ships had driven off his transports, one of which lay burnt out. His force was trapped in a hostile Victoria, with no way back, by sea or land.

In Sydney, only 50 regular soldiers remained. That and colonial militia. As 1855 commenced and the transports arrived back in Sydney, less one of their number, rumours of the complete annihilation of Hanbury's force abounded, as well as the collapse of colonial rule in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. By the middle of February 1855, not a day passed without speculation that the rebels were marching on Sydney, accompanied by lurid tales as to what happened to those who resisted them. This was compounded by gossip that Robert Wynyard, acting Governor of New Zealand, had refused Buckingham's request that he send troops to New South Wales, stating that they were needed in New Zealand to combat troubles there. This was, at least, true. By February 1855, Buckingham's authority in New South Wales was crumbling, the long suffering convicts in the colony seeing a chance to finally improve their lot.
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1 April 1855 - The Governor-General does a bunk
Extract from “The Autocratic Era- The end of the era”, Denly Press, 1951

Hanbury's humiliating defeat in Victoria was to have rapidly consequences for the gentry and landowners of New South Wales. Rumour of what had occurred did not take long to traverse the colony, a colony that in 1855 contained 50,000 convicts, most in country areas. The number of troops guarding these convicts had been cut, then cut again, as Buckingham drew away men to suppress the rebellions in the Southern states. The end result was all to obvious, many convicts thinking the rebel army would shortly cross to border, ironically enough not something the rebels were immediately planning. With less troop presence and that most volatile of emotions, hope, rebellion broke out in New South Wales in February. Predictably enough, considering the events in Victoria, it was the goldfields towns in New South Wales and the miners that started the protests.

Firstly in Bathurst, then Orange and Ophir, rebellions took place. This spread to other areas and by the end of February, another rebellion occurred at Albury. For the ruling cabinet of the new Eureka Republic, busy consolidating their own rule, this was an event that they could not ignore. On the 12th March, over 1,200 men under Lalor and Brydges crossed the Murray into New South Wales at Albury, welcomed as liberators. That same day, a ten ship convoy ferrying 550 men left Port Phillip Bay bound for Jervis Bay, ready to move on Goulburn after disembarkation. By the 28th of March, Buckingham’s forces had been swept aside in rural New South Wales and he remained in possession of only Sydney itself and the areas North and East of Mudgee, 9 of the 19 counties being under rebel control. Castlereagh fell on the 30th. The following day, Buckingham, panicked by the progression of events, boarded the sloop HMS Samarang with all he could take, advising Colonel Edward Macarthur, son of John, to give the rebels their due.

So it was to be, when on the 1st April 1855, Lalor and Brydges were to take possession of Sydney and by extension Northern Australia, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island and Queensland, all without further violence. Only Western Australia and New Zealand remained to loyalist forces. Buckingham's missive as to trouble in the Antipodes had only reached London a week prior, understated in wording though it was.
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4 November 1854, Toorak House, Melbourne, Colony of Victoria

It had all gone wrong very rapidly for Sir Charles Hotham, Governor of Victoria. On reflection, he was now the former Governor of Victoria, thought Peter Lalor. Lalor himself had rapidly realised the importance of moving as quickly as possible. Telegraph communication was the key. It would take 60-70 days for any news of such a rebellion to make it to England, however, new would reach Launceston in only 1-2 days, Sydney in a week.Allowing two days to bury the dead, they had left Ballarat on the 2nd November with a force of 1000 men, 250 of which were now armed with rifles or British Army muskets. 400 men, 50 armed with long-arms, marched to Bendigo via Talbot and Maryborough under Brydges that same day.

Moving through Ballan and actually gaining some 50 extra men, they overnighted at Taylor's Creek, camping at the property of Scotsman William Taylor. The following morning they marched on Government House at Toorak. It was an unequal struggle. Melbourne was garrisoned by only 88 men of the 11th Foot and 51 police, backed by 38 civilian volunteers, Colonel W.A Anderson's Melbourne Volunteer Rifles, only just in the process of forming and consisting of some 34 men and lastly the late arriving Geelong Volunteer Rifles, consisting of 16 men commanded by Horatio Wills, the former Governor. What's more, the more able of the police had already been dispatched, the men left being of less utility.

The two forces met near the Hay, Corn and Horse Market, close to the bridge on Flemington Road, where the loyalist forces had set up barricades. It was a disaster for the Governor's forces. Initially able to hold the rebels, after 30 minutes they realised that their left flank had been turned. The rebels had taken position on Arden Street. Horatio Wills Geelong Volunteer Rifles had sided with the rebels, taking up positions inside the Royal and Parkside Hotels.

The rebels lost 27 dead and 31 wounded at the barricades, the loyalists 24 dead and 18 wounded. More were picked off as they began a confused retreat that ended in a rout, many men surrendering in place. By noon on the 4th November, the Governor was in custody and by 2.30pm all Government forces had laid down their arms. The rebels were in total control of "marvelous Melbourne and it 112,000 population.

Lalor rather dramatically climbed out the skylight to speak to the assembled citizens of Melbourne from the roof of the Post Office in Bourke Street later that day.

“Liberty! That is why we are here, that is what we have fought for.

Fellow Citizens, we can no longer be but outraged at the unaccountable conduct of this Governor and his corrupt officials, we take it as an insult to our manhood and a challenge to the determination to pay the usurious taxes foisted upon us by this grasping administration. We can no longer tolerate the use of this country as a dumping ground for those unwanted in England, those transported against their will by the tyranny of the Crown and of old England. Make no mistake, they will call us traitors, attempt to call us to account, but if you wish to forge your own destiny, brothers and sisters, then you must cleave to the course that we wish to follow.

That course proposes we follow no more than the basic rights of any free man or woman, the right to choose one's own destiny, the right to be free of oppression, to chart ones own course. That is what I propose we do. I propose we chart our own course in this great Southern land. That we longer be beholding to the whims of London, that our wishes be no longer overridden, that the tyranny spewing for from the entitled few in Sydney also be curtailed. You see our flag, the Southern Cross. Swear a solemn oath by our standard, be not a coward at heart. I order all persons who do not intend to take the oath to leave the meeting at once, you will not be molested and public notices will be issued as to the future direction of this colony within the next two days.
For those of us that remain, for those that want a new future free of oppression, for those that wish to see us masters of our own destiny, I call on you now to swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other, and fight to defend our rights and liberties."

The amount of men that came forward, and some women, far exceeded the numbers that Lalor had envisaged. Lalor knelt. "Comrades, assist me to pray for the safety of these men. 
 Bless these men that go to fight for their rights and liberties. May Heaven shield them from danger. I charge you to commit no violence to the peaceably disposed. I will shoot the first man who takes any property from another except arms and ammunition and what is necessary for us to use in our defense.
 March behind our standard.”

Two days later, leaflets circulated all Melbourne homes.

"In the light of circumstances that had previous existed within the previous Colony of Victoria, in light of the patient sufferance of this colony, in light of the oppression suffered, it now constrains us to alter our former system of government, having in direct object the rejection of tyranny over this State.

To that end, I, Peter Lalor, state the following, namely, this Colony is now a free and independent State; it is absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown and all political connection between it and the state of Great Britain, is totally dissolved. To that end, I announce the following appointments for the new Southern Cross Republic:

President and Minister for External Affairs: Horatio Wills
Minister for War: Peter Lalor
Minister for Mining and Postmaster General: Duncan Gillies
Lord Protector: Richard Plantagenet- Brydges
Minister for Trade: Foster Fyans
Attorney General: Adye Douglas
Treasurer: Raffaello Carboni
This should be threadmarked.
24th April 1855 - Concessions and expansion
24 April 1855, Parnell, Auckland, Colony of New Zealand

Acting Governor Robert Wynyard was still reeling from his meeting with the man. The official representative of what they were now calling the Australasian Union. They had claimed incredible amounts of land. The colonies of North Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Norfolk Island, New Caledonia and South Australia. What's more they also claimed to be negotiating with the Swan River Colony. It was all quite incredible, really. But what was Wynyard to do? He had less than 1000 men in the whole of New Zealand. That number was spread over two islands. In regards ships he could use, he was restricted to two sloops and two small gunboats, scarcely enough to see of what would oppose him. As it was, the sloop that the Australasian Union's "Lord Protector", Richard Plantagenet, arrived on, the Tasmania, carried more guns than his fours ships combined. As it was, the ship could easily blockade Auckland, a situation, if implemented, that he was certain would cause the fractious local population throw their support behind the rebels, if only to restore trade routes.

With the Royal Navy committing all it's smaller warships and most of it's troops to the dual purpose of quelling the rebellion in India, which had reached a critical stage and the ongoing Crimean War, he was certain there would be little interest in London in his predicament. That was assuming that London were as yet aware that a problem even existed. Then there was the ongoing issue of the Maori King movement, led by Tāmihana Te Rauparaha. If this was to succeed, it could well stymie much further acquisition of land, a disaster considering the pressure he was under to find more land for settlers, for miners and for towns.

He was only to well aware, as Buckingham had found to his cost, that the military capacity of these rebels much be sufficient enough. They had effectively taken control of a complete continent, after all. Wynyard prevaricated, yet within two weeks it became clear that Plantagenet was also negotiating, through intermediaries, with Kingite supporters, even meeting Te Paea Tīaho. There was little point in a long drawn out fight that would only result in numerous deaths, not least of which would be the virtual annihilation of the men of the 58th Regiment. Instead, he negotiated a settlement. Those that wished to leave the colony, which would accede to the Australasian Union, could do so.

Plantagenet had made his agenda quite clear. A definitive treaty with the natives that would fix land ownership and make further purchases of native land for token amounts much harder the achieve. In return for Kingite support for succession and the joining of New Zealand as two separate states to the Australasian Union, the Union itself would support the cause of a native King. The affairs of the New Zealand Company, an institution already in decline, would be wound up.

Robert Wynyard was to leave New Zealand on the 2nd June 1855, transferring sovereignty to the Australasian Union. The New Zealand Company was effectively expelled on the 28th of the same month. On the 6th July 1855, Plantagenet signed a treaty with Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, fixing the terms of future land transfers and sales and placing them in the hands of Maori leaders rather than those of the Union. In the intervening period he had gained more concessions to some disputed areas. On the 8th July, two new states, New Zealand(essentially the South Isle) and Aotearoa(the North Isle) joined the Union, bringing the component states up to 10.

What had started as a miners rebellion at Eureka had spread like wildfire, burning away the traces of British colonialism at a rapid pace.
New Zealand Map April 1855 - North island

North Island showing native land in blue.
View attachment 711801
North Island showing native land in blue.
Love this update you wrote three four great stories that are now books. Is there any ideas for your future timelines alternate history or self insert ideas? One idea I have is self insert McClellan we’re he makes him a better general cause you don’t see many stories that make McClellan a better general. That’s my ideas keep up the good work!👍👍