Bushranging In Victoria
The bushranging outrage at Springybark Creek was one of the chief topics of conversation in town yesterday. From the full and lucid account telegraphed from Mansfield by our special reporter, it will be seen that the murder of the troopers was deliberately planned by Kelly and his gang, who stole secretly upon the camp when two of the men where away. Of the two who were surprised, one was shot and the other made prisoner, so that it was an easy matter to dispose of the remaining two on their return. Of the four police who constituted the party, Constables Scanlon and Longeron are killed, Constable McIntyre has escaped, and Sergeant Kennedy is missing. What his fate has been can only be conjectured, but there is every reason to fear the worst. Active steps are being taken for the pursuit and capture of the criminals. Arrangements have been made for the despatch of a large number of police to the district, and Superintendent Nicolson has gone up to direct the operations.
ATROCIOUS MURDERS BY BUSHRANGERS
The particulars which we published yesterday in reference to the terrible encounter which had taken place near Mansfield, on Saturday morning last, although meagre, were the general theme of conversation throughout the city yesterday. Further intelligence has come to hand, from which it appears that a premeditated and atrocious crime has been perpetrated by a gang of ruffians. Shortly after noon yesterday three volunteers returned to Mansfield with information confirmatory of the report that Constables Lonergon and Scanlan had been shot dead by the outlaws. Scanlan had been pierced by a ball through the neck, while Lonergon received a mortal wound in the forehead, which must have caused instantaneous death. No effort will be spared to secure the arrest of the band of desperadoes, and for that purpose the Government has offered a reward of £200 for such information as will lead to the apprehension and conviction of each of the offenders. Captain Standish, chief commissioner of police, yesterday afternoon ordered all the available troopers in Richmond police depot to proceed with their horses by special train to Benalla. The men are all picked troopers, and others are being collected from different parts of the colony to follow. During the afternoon Superintendent Nicolson, accompanied by three troopers who are well acquainted with the district, left town for Wangaratta by the train leaving Spencer-street at about 3 o’clock, and a further detachment of troopers will be sent up to Benalla this morning. Inspector Secretan has telegraphed to Detective Kennedy, who is on official duty at Shepparton, to remain in that district, and to render all assistance in his power to the general police. The following official despatches were received by the chief commissioner of police yesterday:―
“Benalla, Monday. To the Chief Commissioner of Police.―The Postmaster at Mansfield telegraphs that ‘Mr Hickson, of Broken River, has just arrived, bringing in Constable Meehan’s horse.’ Meehan is missing between Dinan’s and Daw’s and nothing has been seen or heard of him.―S. Maud, Senior-constable, for Superintendent.”
“Mansfield, Monday. Captain Standish.―There is not a constable here. Cannot you send men up by special train? All the volunteers are in the Wombat Ranges. If I can get more volunteers, may I use police horses that are now in police paddock? I can get 50 volunteers if I can have a few police to go with them. Before Inspector Pewtress left last night he despatched Constable Meehan with despatches to Benalla. Meehan’s horse was found eight miles from here, and Meehan has not been heard of at Daw’s Police Station, which place he had to pass on his way to Benalla. Three volunteers have just returned from Stringybark Creek, and report that they found the dead bodies of Constables Scanlan and Lonergon. The camp had been burnt, and the pockets of the constables rifled. Scanlan was shot through the throat while Lonergon was shot in the forehead. Search was made for Sergeant Kennedy, but no traces were found. The horses were tracked towards the King River. The volunteers packed the dead bodies on horseback to Wombat, where I have sent conveyance to meet them.―Hy. H Kitchen, J.P., in absence of Sub-inspector Pewtress.”
“Benalla, Monday. To the Chief Commissioner of Police.―About half-past 4 p.m. yesterday (Sunday) Constable M’Intyre returned to the station and reported that on Saturday morning early, as they were preparing breakfast at the camp (on Stringybark Creek, about eight miles on the King River side of Wombat), they were surrounded by four men, who, presenting arms, called upon them to surrender. Lonergon immediately placed his hand behind for his revolver, when he was shot dead; another shot struck Scanlan. McIntyre says he saw him fall, the blood pouring out of his side. McIntyre, being unarmed at the time, jumped on his horse and rode off. Shots were fired after him, hitting his horse, which fell. He then made his way on foot, reaching Matthew Byrne’s farm yesterday afternoon, from whence he was driven in to Mansfield by Ned Byrnes. He states that when he left he thinks Kennedy was all right, but on the road off he heard shots exchanged. Nothing has been heard of Kennedy yet. Sub-inspector Pewtress, with a number of volunteers, including Dr. Reynolds, left Mansfield about a quarter-past 6 last night. Mr. Pewtress told the postmaster that he had sent Constable Meehan into Benalla with despatches, but Meehan has not yet arrived here. Have sent two mounted men in search of him, and to report to Mansfield. Please send six armed men, with horses and saddlery, up by first train. Have telegraphed asking Inspector Smith to report with available men at Wangaratta, the nearest telegraph point to King River, to await instructions from Superintendent Sadleir, who is at Shepparton.―S. Maud, Senior-constable, for Superintendent.”
(BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH.)
(FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORTER.)
Mansfield, Monday Night.
The police heard privately that the Kellys, for whom they had been looking for months past, were in the ranges at the head of the King River. The Kelly family live at Greta, 50 miles from here, and the brothers were understood to be in concealment where Power once hid himself. Two parties of police were secretly despatched last week-one from Greta, consisting of five men, with Sergeant Steele in command, and one of four from Mansfield. Though the movements of the Mansfield party were supposed to be dark the object of the expedition leaked out and, no doubt, was rapidly telegraphed across the bush to Edward Kelly. The ranges are infested with a brotherhood of Kellys, Lloyd, Quinns, &c. They occupy land amongst the hills, and ostensibly carry on the operations of cattle-breeders. From the account given by Constable McIntyre, it appears that the Mansfield party started on Friday, equipped with revolvers, one Spencer rifle, and a double-barrelled gun, lent by a resident of the township. They had a tent and a fortnight’s provisions. They reached Stringy-bark Creek, 20 miles from here, on Friday evening, and camped on an open space on the Creek. It was the site of some old diggings. They pitched the tent near the ruins of two huts. They were about 15 miles from the head of the King. No special precautions were thought necessary, because the party supposed they were a long way from Kelly’s whereabouts. The ranges round about were almost uninhabited and the party were not quite sure whether they were on the watershed of the King or the Broken River; but both Kennedy and Scanlan knew the locality intimately. It was Kennedy’s intention to camp for a few days, patrol backwards into the ranges, and then shift the camp in. About 6 a.m. on Saturday Kennedy and Scanlan went down the creek to explore, and they stayed away nearly all day. It was McIntyre’s duty to cook, and he attended closely to camp duty. During the forenoon some noise was heard, and McIntyre went out to have a look, but found nothing. /he fired two shots out of his gun at a pair of parrots. This gunshot, he subsequently learned, was heard by Kelly, who must have been on the lookout for the police for days past. About 5 p.m., McIntyre was at the fire making the afternoon tea and Lonergon by him, when they were suddenly surprised with the cry, “Bail up; throw up your arms.” They looked up, and saw four armed men close to them. Three carried guns, and Edward Kelly two rifles. Two of the men they did not know, but the fourth was the younger Kelly. The four were on foot. They had approached up the rises, and some flags or rushes had provided them with excellent cover until they got into the camp. McIntyre had left his revolver at the tent door, and was totally unarmed. He, therefore, held up his hands as directed, and faced round. Lonergon started for shelter behind a tree, and at the same time put his hand upon his revolver. But before he had moved two paces, Edward Kelly shot him in the temple. He fell at once, and as he lay on the ground said, “Oh Christ, I am shot.” He died in a few seconds. Kelly had McIntyre searched, and when they found he was unarmed, they let him drop his hands. They got possession of Lonergon’s and McIntyre’s revolvers. Kelly remarked when he saw Lonergon had been killed, “What a pity; what made the fool run?” The men helped themselves to several articles in the tent. Kelly talked to McIntyre and expressed his wonder that the police should have been so foolhardy as to look for him in the ranges. He made inquiries about four different men, and said he would roast each of them alive if he caught them. Steele and Flood were two of the four named. He asked McIntyre what he fired at in the forenoon, and said they must have been fools not to suppose he was ready for them. It was evident that he knew the exact state of the camp, the number of the men, and the description of the horses. He asked where the other two were, and said he would put a hole through McIntyre if he told a lie. McIntyre told him who the two absent men were, and hoped they would not be shot in cold blood. Kelly replied, “No, I am not a coward. I’ll shoot no man if he holds up his hands.” He told McIntyre that the best thing he could do was to advise Kennedy and Scanlon to surrender, for if they showed fight or tried to run away they would be shot. McIntyre asked what they would do if he induced his comrades to surrender. Kelly said he would detain them all night, as he wanted a sleep, and let them go next morning without their arms of their horses. McIntyre told Kelly that he would induce his comrades to surrender if he would keep his word, but he would rather be shot a thousand times than sell them. He added that one of the two was father of a large family. Kelly said, “You can depend on us.” Kelly stated that Fitzpatrick, the man who tried to arrest his brother in April, was the cause of all this; that his (Kelly’s) mother and the rest had been unjustly “lagged” at Beechworth. Kelly then caught sound of the approach of Kennedy and Scanlan, and the four men concealed themselves, some behind logs, and one in the tent. They made McIntyre sit on a log, and Kelly said, “Mind, I have a rifle for you if you give any alarm.” Kennedy and Scanlan rode into camp, McIntyre went forward, and said. “Sergeant, I think you had better dismount and surrender, as you are surrounded.” Kelly at the same time called out, “Put up your hands.” Kennedy appeared to think it was Lonergon who called out, and that a jest was intended, for he smiled, and put his hand on his revolver case. He was instantly fired at, but not hit; and Kennedy then realised the hopelessness of his position, jumped off his horse, and said, “Its all right, stop it stop it.” Scanlan, who carried the Spencer rifle, jumped down and tried to make for a tree, but before he could unsling his rifle, he was shot down and never spoke. A number of shots were fired. McIntyre found that the men intended to shoot the whole of the party, so he jumped on Kennedy’’ horse, and dashed down the creek. Several shots were fired but none reached him. Apparently the rifles were empty and only the revolvers available, or he must have been hit. He galloped through the scrub for two miles, and then his horse became exhausted. It had evidently been wounded. He took off the saddle and bridle, and concealed himself in a wombat hole until dark. He then started on foot across country, and walked until 3 p.m. on Sunday, when he reached McColl’s place, near Mansfield.
Two hours or so after McIntyre reported the murder of the troopers, Inspector Pewtress set out, accompanied by McIntyre and seven or eight townspeople, for the camp. The police station was so empty of weapons that all the arms they could take were one revolver and one gun. They reached the camp with the assistance of a guide, at half-past 2 this morning. They found the bodies of Scanlan and Lonergon. They searched at daylight for the sergeant, but met with no traces of him. The tent had been burnt and everything taken away or destroyed. There were four bullet wounds on Lonergon and five on Scanlan. Three additional shots had been fired into Lonergon’’ dead body before the men left the camp. The extra shots were fired so that all might be equally implicated. McIntyre is certain that Kennedy was not hit, but no one here at present ventures to do more than hope that the brave fellow has not been since murdered. It is McIntyre’’ belief that Kelly meant to spare none, but dispose of them in a way to render their fate a mystery. Now that they know McIntyre has escaped, they may possibly let Kennedy live. A large party will be despatched at 7 to-morrow morning to succour Kennedy if alive, and run down the murderers. They will provide themselves with food for several days. Two extra police arrived to-day, and three more will be here in the morning in addition to any who may be sent from town by rail to-night. McIntyre is weak from bruises and from 48 hours’ severe exertion. The sorrow felt for the death of Scanlan is universal throughout the district. He seems to have been a brave, cool, amiable, excellent man. Kennedy was an efficient bushman and a resolute officer. He has a wife and five children, and, fortunately for them, should he be killed, his circumstances are good. Scanlan was unmarried, and his station was Benalla. Lonergon was from Violet Town. He has left a widow and four children, badly off. The public ought not to be satisfied until the band of villains by whom the district from here to Greta is kept in a state of terrorism is effectually put down.
The report as to Constable Meehan being stopped between here and Benalla last night is groundless. He was unarmed, and supposed himself cornered by two horsemen, who followed him down the road. To escape capture he quitted his horse, and found his way to Broken River on foot this morning. He had lent his revolver to McIntyre before he left Mansfield. I met him this morning mounted, on the way to Benalla with his despatches, fully convinced that he had made a narrow escape; but no traces of any marauders have been seen. The coach passed the spot to-day. The wet weather is likely to obliterate all tracks on the ranges, and render the pursuit of the Kelly’s difficult, but an efficient party will be sent out.