As the smoke cleared over the ruins of the Eureka Stockade on 5 December 1854, a male diarist observed that a woman was among those ‘mercilessly butchered’ by troopers and police. According to her descendants, Catherine Smith was another casualty, shot by soldiers and dead three weeks later. In the 1880s a female correspondent to the Ballarat Star also claimed to have been among the wounded. This woman was not one of the twenty-seven-odd civilians killed; nor was she among the unknown number who later died from their injuries. Yet still soldiers shot at her as she fled, and she was lucky to escape alive.
Scotching the fantasy
The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka
by Clare Wright
Text Publishing, $45 hb, 556 pp, 9781922147370
Melissa Bellanta is a historian based at the University of Queensland.
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