Several days later he was no more impressed with either the Governor or with the army commander General Duncan Cameron. Grey had met with some local Māori but left the district on 15 May. 'The beast never came to see us or even ask after us' (15 May 1864). The next day General Cameron left to return to Auckland. In Nicholl's view Cameron was also an 'ungrateful beast. He has been, I think the whole time he has been here the most selfish man I have ever known. Never so much as asking how we were' (16 May).
Nicholl's view of Grey was to change. Cameron's behaviour in not visiting his wounded men was unusual and has been taken as a sign of the deep shock the defeat at Gate Pa - Pukehinahina made on him.
G-623, Alexander Turnbull Library
Several weeks later the Auckland newspaper The New Zealander published an article entitled 'A Visit to Te Papa Cemetery'. Commenting on the gravestone to Captain J.F.C. Hamilton of HMS Esk, one of four naval officers who died at Gate Pa, the 'special correspondent' noted that:
'It is much feared that this brave officer was cruelly deserted by his men, who were seized with a panic and fled back to our position after being gallantly led as the forlorn hope to the attack. It is true it was a a critical moment, but if the men had displayed half the courage and daring of their officer, a very different result would have to be chronicled respecting this unfortunate encounter.' (The New Zealander, 4 June 1864)
The threat worked. The paper promised to print the sailors' own version of what had happened in the attack on the pa in a special edition. That version was published in a special midday edition of The New Zealander. In it, the sailors put the blame for the confusion in which Hamilton had died onto the men in the 68th Regiment who had entered the fighting from the inland side of the Gate Pa.
The episode created a big stir in the town.
Ensign Nicholl, who was sent back to Auckland to fully recover in mid-May, recorded it in his Journal:
6 June 1864 Auckland
'There was a great commotion in the town today as some of the sailors from H.M.S. Esk said that they would pull down the office of the "New Zealander" newspaper if they did not issue an apology at once for what they had said about the Gate Pah. In the afternoon the newspaper did what they were asked.' (p.234)
R C J Stone, Logan Campbell's Auckland. Tales from the Early Years, Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2007, 149-151