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Army of Sufferers: The Experience of Tasmania's Black Line


Clements, Nick, Army of Sufferers: The Experience of Tasmania's Black Line, Journal of Australian Studies, 37, (1) pp. 19-33. ISSN 1444-3058 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 International Australian Studies Association

DOI: doi:10.1080/14443058.2012.754782


Tasmania’s ‘‘Black Line’’ was Australia’s largest military operation prior to the defence of Darwin in World War II. The three hundred kilometre cordon detained 2,200 men in the field for eight weeks during October and November 1830 and directly affected most of the island’s 23,000 inhabitants; yet historians have written almost nothing about their attitudes and experiences. The documents traditionally relied upon contain little relevance to such questions, but by drawing on a wider range of sources, this article overcomes that problem. This article explores the atmosphere surrounding the Line’s announcement, the motivations and experiences of participants, and the anxious situation of non-participants. Whilst most settlers supported the campaign, the article finds that settlers were only a small portion of the participants. The men comprising the Line were not settler volunteers for the most part, but convicts and soldiers pressed into service. It also finds that the ostensible injunction to ‘‘capture’’ the Aborigines was disregarded, that the campaign was a complete debacle at almost every level, resulting in widespread discontent, and everyone understood the operation to be a failure. Thus, this article adds a new aspect to the Black Line story and overturns several lingering misconceptions about this infamous event.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Black Line; Black War; Aborigines; Tasmania; frontier
Research Division:Indigenous Studies
Research Group:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history
Research Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in history, heritage and archaeology
UTAS Author:Clements, Nick (Dr Nicholas Clements)
ID Code:88539
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:School of Humanities
Deposited On:2014-02-06
Last Modified:2014-07-31
Downloads:3 View Download Statistics

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