Captain Logan: Building a Colony From the Ground Up

Captain Logan promotion to Captain in 1823, made him the highest-ranking member of his unit, the 57th Regiment. In November 1825, he was appointed by Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane to command the convict settlement at Moreton Bay, which had been opened by Lieutenant Henry Miller in September 1824 (Cranfield, L. R., 2021).

Captain Logan

Next November he was appointed by Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane to command of the convict settlement at Moreton Bay, which had been opened by Lieutenant Henry Miller in September 1824.

The first Commandant at Moreton Bay was Lieutenant Henry Miller who was followed by Captain Peter Bishop, both of the 40th Regiment. When the 40th was relieved in 1826 by the 57th Regiment, Captain Patrick Logan became the third Commandant (Buchanan, R.,1999).

Captain Logan, his young wife, Letitia and baby son, Robert sailed from Cork on the ship Hooghly and arrived in Sydney in April 1825. After spending some time in Sydney, the 57th Regiment was ordered to replace the 40th at Moreton Bay. Logan, as senior officer, was placed in charge as Commandant of the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement (Buchanan, R.,1999).

When Logan arrived at Moreton Bay, the penal station was merely a collection of rough huts, lacking essential facilities. Conditions were harsh and primitive. Limited resources and almost entire lack of skilled labour had ensured that there were no permanent buildings and that the whole settlement had the appearance of a raw bush camp (Starr, J., 1988).

The Old Windmill in Spring Hill

Within four years, the number of convicts jumped from around 200 to more than 1000. In coping with these problems, Logan’s skill as an administrator became evident. He created a substantial settlement of brick and stone buildings, complete with school and hospital (Starr, J., 1988).  He formed additional outstations and made several important journeys of exploration. He received a salary raise and his work was praised in glowing terms in official reports (Buchanan, R.,1999).

The dark side of this great accomplishment was that he had also created a notorious hell-hole of punishment and severity which has lived on in popular imagination and which earned him the title of “Tyrant of Brisbane Town” (Buchanan, R.,1999).

In 1827, the Attorney General commented on the fact that Logan has ordered punishment of up to 150 lashes on several occasions. When asked to explain, Logan said that he “regretted exceedingly” that he had been forced to order frequent floggings but it was necessary because the convicts did not want to work (Buchanan, R.,1999).

In an attempt to find alternatives to flogging, cells were built for solitary confinement and a flour mill was built and operated by convicts working a treadmill. This mill is still standing on Wickham Terrance (Buchanan, R.,1999).

Logan was a product of his times and had been shaped by his years of gruelling military experience. His regiment, the 57th, had been nicked named “The Steelbacks” because floggings were such a common occurrence for its own members (Buchanan, R.,1999).

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