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2-072 (Text)

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H. M. Ship ZEBRA, Captain Mackmurdo, R.N, arrived at Sydney last Tuesday, 17th of July, 1832, after a 19 week's cruise to the Islands, and brings interesting intelligence, including the following deplorable catastrophe - the outrageous massacre of the crew of the whaling barque, OLDHAM, R. Johnstone, master. The account makes public another instance of the indignant retribution by the savage islanders, which we must condemn and deplore, but in view of the blamable behaviour of whaling crews, we cannot pronounce altogether undeserved on the part of the unfortunate sufferers.
On the 20th May 1832, the ZEBRA discovered at Waffis's Island a vessel at anchor, inside the reef, close inshore, apparently dismantled, and without any colours. The ZEBRA then made signals for a pilot, but could not procure one; and as the natives would hold no intercourse, strong suspicions were excited; and although the only passage which could be discovered, after sailing two days around the Island, appeared extremely dangerous, she attempted to pass it on the 22nd, but grazing the larboard reef, and having baffling winds, she was compelled to bear up, and run out to sea again.
On the 23rd. two armed boats were sent in to examine the stranger. In the evening they returned with one man killed, and reported that the vessel proved to be the OLDHAM of London, whose crew had been (with the exception of one boy) killed by the natives. After a native chief had cut down the man, the ZEBRA'S people, already maddened at the fate of the OLDHAM'S crew, became furious, and killed or drove overboard every native found on board her. A whale boat, full of natives, going off to the assistance of the chief, were driven overboard by the 12 lb. carronade of the pinnace.
From the dismantled state of the ship, all her yards and sails having been taken away, and her standing and running rigging cut, combined with the want of ammunition and the distance from the ZEBRA, the commanding officer was compelled to abandon her. The same evening she appeared to be on fire; and on the 25th. while seeking for another entrance, the ZEBRA fell in with the barque CAROLINE, of Hobart Town, bound to Wallis's Island. From her she procured the mate of the late BURK schooner, of London (which vessel had been wrecked on the 18th April last, outside the entrance) as pilot. She accordingly passed through the reef the next day, followed by the CAROLINE, and anchored within two miles of the burning wreck. Every exertion was used to extinguish the fire, but without effect; and on the 28th she went down at her anchors in about 7 fathoms water. On the second day the ZEBRA opened a communication with the chiefs, several of whom came off, bringing with them Craven Nicholson, the boy, the only survivor, from whom it is learnt that the massacre was occassioned by the wanton aggression of the master and crew. Some articles of property were delivered up, and after once more placing relations upon an amicable footing, the ZEBRA proceeded to Rotumah, where she arrived on the 7th June. She there apprehended John Palmer, a runaway convict in the HASHMY of Sydney.