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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vols. II - IIIVoyaging Accounts
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On this day ...
15 April 1769

Endeavour Voyage Maps
James Cook
Joseph Banks

Place fixed for an Observatory and Fort


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Place fixed for an Observatory and Fort (continued)

It appeared, that one of the Indians who remained about the tent after we left it, had watched his opportunity, and, taking the centry unawares, had snatched away his musquet. Upon this, the petty officer, a midshipman, who commanded the party, perhaps from a sudden fear of farther violence, perhaps from the natural petulance of power newly acquired, and perhaps from a brutality in his nature, ordered the marines to fire: the men, with as little consideration or humanity as the officer, immediately discharged their pieces among the thickest of the flying crowd, consisting of more than a hundred; and observing that the thief did not fall, pursued him, and shot him dead. We afterwards learnt, that none of the others were either killed or wounded.

Owhaw, who had never left us, observing that we were now totally deserted, got together a few of those who had fled, though not without some difficulty, and ranged them about us: we endeavoured to justify our people as well as we could, and to convince the Indians that if they did no wrong to us, we should do no wrong to them: they went away without any appearance of distrust or resentment; and having struck our tent, we returned to the ship, but by no means satisfied with the transactions of the day.

Upon questioning our people more particularly, whose conduct they soon perceived we could not approve, they alleged that the centinel whose musquet was taken away, was violently assaulted and thrown down, and that a push was afterwards made at him by the man who took the musquet, before any command was given to fire. It was also suggested, that Owhaw had suspicions, at least, if not certain knowlege, that something would be attempted against our people at the tent, which made him so very earnest in his endeavours to prevent our leaving it; others imputed his importunity to his desire that we should confine ourselves to the beach: and it was remarked that neither Owhaw, nor the Chiefs who remained with us after he had sent the rest of the people away, would have inferred the breach of peace from the firing at the tent, if they had had no reason to suspect that some injury had been offered by their countrymen; especially as Mr. Banks had just fired at the ducks: and yet that they did infer a breach of peace from that incident, as was manifest from their waving their hands for the people to disperse, and instantly pulling green branches from the trees. But what were the real circumstances of this unhappy affair, and whether either and which of these conjectures were true, can never certainly be known.

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© Derived from Vols. II-III of the London 1773 edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 91 - 92, 2004
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