The UnAustralian

Saturday, August 30, 2003
 
Windschuttle and Uncertainty

One problem with Windschuttle's account of Tasmania deaths, is that he tends to ignore the uncertainties associated with counting deaths. For example, he records that in September 1829 John Batman killed two wounded prisoners. No other casualties are reported.

Here is Batman's account (copied from Whitewash):

At about 11 o'clock pm we arrived within 21 paces of them. The men were drawn up on the right by my orders intending to rush upon them before they could arise from the ground, hoping that I should not be under the necessity of firing at them, but unfortunately as the last man was coming up, he struck his musket against that of another party, which immediately alarmed the dogs (in number about 40) they came directly at us. The natives arose from the ground, and were in the act of running away into the thick scrub, when I ordered the men to fire upon them, which was done, and a rush by the party immediately followed, we only captured that night one women and a male child about two years old... next morning we found one man very badly wounded in the ankle and knee, shortly after we found another. 10 buckshot had entered his body, he was alive but very bad, there were a great number of traces of blood in various directions and learnt from those we took that 10 men were wounded in the body which they gave us to understand were dead or would die, and two women in the same state had crawled away, besides a number that was shot in the legs... On Friday morning we left the place for my farm with the two men, woman and child, but found it impossible that the two former could walk, and after trying them by every means in my power, for some time, found I could not get them on I was obliged to shoot them

It is impossible to say how many people died here (Batman estimates 15), but if somebody had an honest look at these events, it would be impossible to say with any certainty that only two people died as a result of these shootings, as Windschuttle does.

Gathering up all of the recorded deaths would be of benefit for history, however, by pretending that, only the recorded deaths occurred (as Windschuttle does) he moves into a fantasy world.


| 12:45 PM