Murder of Captain Logan by the Blacks at Moreton Bay

The Sydney Gazette Tuesday 16 November 1830 p.2


It is our heartrending task to record one of the most barbarous murders ever perpetrated by the Aborigines of this Colony. Captain Logan, of the 57th regiment, Commandant of Moreton Bay, had for some time been diligently employed in surveying that part of the territory, and executing a chart for the public service. His labours having been nearly completed, he left the settlement on the 18th ultimo, to make his final survey–and which, alas proved to be final in the most awful sense of the word. He was accompanied by a boat's crew and one private servant.

On the morning of the fatal day, when they had reached about fifteen miles beyond the Lime kilns, situated about seventy from the coast, a group of natives made their appearance, and manifested a very unfriendly feeling towards the party; in the afternoon, however, the lamented Commandant ordered his horse, saying he should take a solitary ride, and return to the encampment in time for dinner. The party respectfully remonstrated with him against venturing alone, the natives having shewn so menancing a disposition in the morning; he laughed, and said he had often encountered them in the bush, and had more than once frightened them by presenting an empty bottle instead of a pistol.

Full of spirits, and a stranger to fear, he rode off–never to return. The afternoon wore away, the shades of evening came on, the darkness of night set in-but no appearance of the Commandant. After a night of the strongest anxiety and alarm, the party proceeded, at daybreak, in quest of their unfortunate master; but having spent the whole day in fruitless search, they hastened back to the settlement, and reported the mysterious circumstance. Not a moment was lost. Captain Clunie instantly despatched several parties in the directions most likely to lead to the desired discovery, with orders to scour the bush with the utmost minuteness.

On the fifth day, one of these parties descried a saddle hanging from the branch of a tree, the stirrup leathers of which had been cut away ; it proved to be the one on which the Commandant had travelled, and on examining the earth it was observed that the saddle had been trailed along, leaving marks of its course upon the surface. These marks they proceeded to trace, and in a short time found the Captain's waistcoat, much stained with blood, and his pocket compass and other instruments scattered about and much broken. Pursuing the marks, they at length came to the lifeless body of the horse, and a little further on discovered the mangled remains of the murdered Commandant, loosely covered with leaves and earth, the feet protruding, and woefully mangled by the native dogs.

The body was inspected by Mr. Cowper, the surgeon of the settlement, who found no difficulty in proving that the horrible act had been perpetrated by native weapons. The head had been dreadfully beaten with waddies, and the side pierced with a spear. The corpse was carried to the settlement, where an inquest was held, and the above facts proved in evidence. The afflicted widow and two children arrived at Sydney on Sunday last, by the Governor Phillip; their feelings no words can describe. The remains of the deceased are being conveyed hither by the Isabella, and may be hourly expected. 

The Sydney Gazette Tuesday 16 November 1830 p.2


In another column we report the par- ticulars of the murder of Captain Logan, the late Commandant of Moreton Bay, by the black natives. It was a horrid deed–such as, thank Heaven!–has rarely stained the aboriginal race of New Holland. It is such cold-blooded butchery as this, that has stirred up the entire population of the sister-colony, to sweep the murderous savages from the country they have soaked with human gore, and to place them where their ferocity cannot reach the unoffending settlers.

The Sydney Monitor Wednesday 17 November 1830 p.2

Intelligence arrived in Sydney, on Sunday, by the Governor Phililip, of the murder of the late Commandant at Moreton Bay. It appears that when exploring accompanied by a boats' crew, he left them while they were engaged in cooking some provisions, and went on horse-back into the bush, and not re turning, they made search after him without effect, They returned to the settlement. A party was despatched by Captain Clunie, to renew the search. After five day's search they found the body of Captain Logan, and also the carcass of his horse. Both had evidently been dead some days. Some earth and leaves had been thrown over the body. The head was. beat in, and the surgeon declared the blows had been inflicted by the waddies of the Natives. The body had also been mangled by the native dogs, and altogether exhibited an awful spectacle. It is reported, that some run away Convicts were seen among the Blacks, previously to Captain Logan's last departure.

The Sydney Gazette Thursday 18 November 1830 p2.

(Government Order. No. 22.)
Sydney, Nov. 17, 1830.

HIS Excellency the Governor publishes, with Feelings of deep Concern, the following Copy of a Letter from Captain Clunie, 17th Regiment, conveying Intelligence of the melancholy Fate of Captain LOGAN, 57th, late Commandant at Moreton Bay, who was murdered by the Natives, when completing a Survey which he had commenced last Year. It would be painful to dwell on the Particulars of this distressing Event. Every one who is capable of estimating Captain Logan's Character—his Zeal— his chivalrous and undaunted Spirit, will deplore it. He had held for a Period of four Years the Command at Moreton Bay—a Situation, from the Character of the Settlement, of the most troublesome and arduous Description. He did not, however, confine himself to the immediate Duties of his Command ; but had on several Occasions, at great personal Risk, explored the Country to a considerable extent ; and on one of these discovered a River, which, in Compliment to his Services, was named the "Logan" as will he seen by the Government Order of the 16th July, 1827, No. 27.

The Circumstances of Captain Logan's Death, prove that the Ardour of his Character was not to be restrained by personal Considerations. His Life was devoted to the Public Service. Professionally he possessed those Qualities which distinguish the best Officers ; and in the Conduct of an extensive Public Establishment, his Services were highly important to the Colony. The Governor, though He deeply regrets the Occasion, is gratified in expressing his Sentiments of Captain Logan's Character and Services. He is assured that every feeling Mind will sympathise with the afflicted Widow, who, with her infant Family has, by an Act of savage Barbarity, sustained a Loss which cannot be repaired. As a Tribute to the Memory of this meriiorious Officer, His Excellency requests that the Gentlemen of the Civil Service will join the Military in attend- ing the Funeral, of which due Notice will be given.
By His Excellency's Command,

"Moreton Bay, 6th Nov. 1830."
Sir, "It is with feelings of unfeigned sorrow the duty devolves upon me, of reporting to you, for the information of His Excellency the Governor, the melancholy death of Captain Logan, late Commandant of this settlement."

The particulars relative to this unfortunate event are nearly as follows :— "On the 9th ultimo, Captain Logan, accompanied by his servant and five prisoners, proceeded from Brisbane Town in the neighbourhood of Mount Irwin, and the Brisbane Mountain, with a view of completing his chart of this part of the Colony. It appears, that when near the Pine Range, the party were attacked by a large assemblage of Natives, who, however, on a shot being fired, ceased to annoy them ; the party then proceeded on their journey, and Captain Logan, after traversing part of the country, was on his return home, on the 17th ultimo, when, not far from the foot of Mount Irwin, he left the party, desiring them to proceed to a place he pointed out, and where he said he would join them in the evening.

From some unfortunate misunderstanding, however, he was unable to do so; and on the 18th the party, believing he would proceed immediately to the Limestone station, took their departure also for that place, where they arrived the following evening. Finding that Captain Logan was not there, as they expected, and having seen many Natives on the day previous, their fears were naturally excited, and three of them immediately returned to the place where Captain Logan had left them, while the others came here to announce the distressing intelligence.

"As we naturally concluded he had fallen into the hands of the Natives, and hoped he might be a prisoner and alive, parties were sent out in every direction to endeavour to meet them ; while, in the mean time, his servant and party found his saddle, with the stirrups cut off, as if by a Native's hatchet, about ten miles from the place where Captain Logan had left them, in the direction of the Limestone station. Near to this place, also, were the marks of his horse having been tied to a tree, of his having, himself, slept upon some grass in a bark hut, and having apparently been roasting chesnuts, when he had made some rapid strides towards his horse, as if surprised by the Natives. No further traces, however, could be discovered ; and though the anxiety of his family and friends was most distressing, hopes were still entertained of his being alive, till the 28th ultimo, when Mr. Cowper, whose exertions on this occasion were very great, and for which I feel much indebted, discovered the dead horse sticking in a creek, and not far from it, at the top of the bank, the body of Captain Logan, buried about a foot under ground. Near this also were found papers torn in pieces, his boots, and part of his waistcoat stained with blood."

From all these circumstanccs, it appears probable that, while at the place where he had stopt for the night, Captain Logan was suddenly surprised by the Natives, that he mounted his horse without saddle or bridle, and, being unable to manage him, the horse, pursued by the Natives, got into the creek, where Captain Logan, endeavouring to extricate him, was overtaken and murdered.

"Mrs. Logan, having adecided objection to the remains being interred here, has requested they may be forwarded to Sydney by the Isabella, while she and her family proceed by the Governor Phillip; and, it being the opinion of both the medical officers here, that in her delicate state of health, proceeding without a medical attendant would be attended with much danger, I have been induced to sanction Assistant Surgeon Murray accompanying Mrs. Logan, as, in the present healthy state of the settlement, the services of one medical officer can be dispensed with for a short lime."
I have, &c. &c,
"J. O. CLUNIE," Captain, 17th Regiment, commanding Detachment"
"The Honourable The Colonial Secretary, &c., &c., &c., Sydney."


See the poem and song that related to this event - A Convict's Arrival aka The Convict's Lament at the Death of Captain Logan and Moreton Bay