This inspection foray hastened a change in the leadership of the Reform League, to people who championed ‘physical force’ over ‘moral force’ as argued by Humffray and the old leadership.
The incensed miners elected the more militant Peter Lalor as their leader. Quickly a military formation was organized amongst the miners and a defensive stockade was built against further government attacks. The Eureka Flag was unfurled, and an oath of allegiance was sworn.
“WE SWEAR BY THE SOUTHERN CROSS TO STAND TRULY BY EACH OTHER AND FIGHT TO DEFEND OUR RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES.”
On Sunday at dawn on 3 December, 280 soldiers and police charged the stockade whose numbers had dwindled to around 120 diggers. The police units emulated the army with a ruthless bayonet charge. About 22 diggers and 6 soldiers were killed in the fight. Some 140 men were arrested, but most were eventually released. The authorities chose 13 supposed ring-leaders for trial.