Henry Ross

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This article is about the Canadian gold miner. For the New York politician, see Henry H. Ross.
Captain Henry Ross, in a photo displayed by the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery

Captain Henry Ross (1829 - 5 December 1854) was a Canadian gold miner at Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, and was known on the goldfields as the 'bridegroom' of the miners flag, the Southern Cross, the Eureka Flag. Henry Ross was born in Toronto, Upper Canada, and probably arrived at Melbourne on the Magnolia, in November 1852, along with Charles Doudiet and three other Canadians.

There is no evidence of who exactly designed the Eureka Flag, but it was Ross who took the design to three women - Anastasia Withers, Anne Duke and Anastasia Hayes - to ask them to sew it and have it ready in time for the meeting taking place at Bakery Hill at 2.00pm on Wednesday the 29 November 1854.

At Bakery Hill on 30 November 1854 Captain Ross unfurled the Southern Cross and led the march from Bakery Hill to Eureka Stockade, behind him followed about 1,000 diggers, some armed with rifles, many only armed with picks and shovels. Captain Ross was given the command of a division of miners by a meeting of the 7 captains of the rebellion who met at Eureka that afternoon to organise the defence of Eureka.

Later that afternoon Captain Ross raised the flag on the temporary flagpole that had been erected at Bakery Hill. Sword in hand, his division gathered at the foot of the flagstaff, the sun going down behind them. Peter Lalor jumped onto a stump and asked those around him to take an oath to the Southern Cross. He pointed his right hand towards the Southern Cross and delivered the diggers oath.

"We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties"

The miners shouted 'Amen' and then marched back to the Eureka Stockade and hoisted the Southern Cross on a makeshift flagpole at the centre of their camp.

When the first shots rang out at daybreak on Sunday the 3 December 1854, Captain Henry Ross took up his position at the foot of the flagpole. He was mortally wounded during the early phase of the battle and lay dying at the foot of the Southern Cross when trooper King scaled the flagpole and tore the flag down. By some accounts Ross was shot 10 or 15 minutes after he surrendered. Fellow Canadian (Charles) Alphonse Doudiet, who painted earlier Eureka events, recorded that he was among those who carried the Stockade leader to the nearby Star Hotel, and remained with him until he died "in great pain" at 2 am on 5 December 1854. Duncan Clark, from the same regiment as Ross, had been out scouting and returned in time to assist his leader to the hotel.

Some 260 mourners followed the funeral procession of Ross to the Ballarat Cemetery. He was eulogised as one of the best loved men of those who fell. The young Canadian digger, Henry Ross, was buried at the bottom of a mass grave at the Old Ballarat cemetery, while his beloved Southern Cross is displayed for all to see at the Ballarat Art Gallery that stands on the site of the soldiers encampment.

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