Line of fire - what happened at the Wantabadgery seige?

Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2018 Mar;14(1):133-138. doi: 10.1007/s12024-017-9915-0. Epub 2017 Oct 23.

Abstract

A gunfight between police and a gang of men led by the self-styled "Captain Moonlite", a.k.a. George Scott, occurred on 16th November 1879 at a farmhouse near Wantabadgery Station in the colony of New South Wales. The skirmish resulted in the deaths of two bushrangers and one police officer. As a result, Captain Moonlite and Thomas Rogan were hung in Sydney's Darlinghurst Gaol on 20 January 1880 for the murder of Constable Edward Webb-Bowen. Culpability for firing the fatal shot, however, has remained a source of controversy. Information obtained from an analysis of historical records was used to guide an archeological excavation at the scene of the shooting in which Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) technology was employed to produce a digital (3D) terrain model of the siege location. Utilizing the terrain model, the relative positions of Moonlite, Webb-Bowen, and the other gang members were established with possible projectile trajectories plotted. This, in combination with inquest evidence from a gun maker and the medical practitioner who examined Constable Webb-Bowen's wound, indicates that the most likely shooter was Gus Warnicke, aged 15 years, the youngest member of the gang, who was also killed in the exchange of fire.

Keywords: Bushrangers; Captain Moonlight; Colonial Australia; Gunshot; Hanging; Moonlite; Police; Wantabadgery.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Forensic Ballistics / methods*
  • History, 19th Century
  • Humans
  • New South Wales
  • Police / history*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / history*