DESPERATE FIGHT WITH BUSHRANGERS
Destruction Of the Kelly Gang
No event that has occurred in the colony for some time past has excited a greater degree of interest in Victoria and the neighbouring colonies than the annihilation, under circumstances of an extraordinarily tragic nature, of the gang of outlawed bushrangers and murderers known as the Kelly gang. It will be remembered that about two years since this band of marauders first attracted public attention by the perpetration of a tragedy almost unparalleled in the history of the colony, namely, the murder of three members of the police force, who were at the time in pursuit of them with warrants for their arrest on the charge of shooting at Constable Fitzpatrick, of Benalla. The gang consisted of four men―Edward Kelly, Daniel Kelly, Joseph Byrne, and Stephen Hart―who were known to the police as notorious cattle-stealers. The two Kellys had undergone terms of imprisonment for that crime before they were sixteen years of age, but the punishment did not deter them from resuming their career of crime as soon as they were liberated. In April, 1878, an attempt was made by Constable Fitzpatrick to arrest Daniel Kelly for horse-stealing, when that officer was overpowered at the house of the Kellys by the outlaws, their mother, and two men named Williams and Skillion. The constable was shot at and wounded, and the criminals escaped. Mrs. Kelly, Williams, and Skillion were, however, subsequently captured and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. But the two Kellys, one of whom had been an active confederate of the bushranger, Harry Power, eluded the vigilance of the police, and found hiding-places utterly unknown to the authorities, and almost inaccessible to all but those who were familiar to them.
THE POLICE MURDERS
After a search of some months’ duration, the police ascertained that the gang was hiding in the Wombat Ranges, near Mansfield. Four officers stationed at Mansfield, namely, Sergeant Kennedy, and Constables Scanlan, Lonergan, and McIntyre, closed in upon the haunt of the criminals in October, 1878, but so far from taking the gang unawares, as they had anticipated, the police were taken by surprise; the outlaws rushed upon them and demanded instant surrender. Almost before the officers had time to realise their position, Constables Lonergan and Scanlan were murdered in the most cold-blooded manner, and Sergeant Kennedy―as it subsequently transpired―was carried off by the gang, and also murdered. Constable McIntyre alone survived to tell the narrative of a tragedy that went a thrill through the colony. From many centres of population in the district search parties, joined by volunteers from every class and rank, went out to assist in the capture of the perpetrators of the dastardly outrage that has since been known as the Mansfield tragedy. The Government despatched reinforcements of police, in charge of Superintendent Nicolson, of Melbourne, to the spot, and a reward of £200 per head was offered for the capture of the murderers. The reward was afterwards increased to a lump sum of £4,000, and the Government of New South Wales also offered a reward of £4,000. A measure passed by the Parliament of Victoria declared the marauders outlaws, and rendered all who sympathised with them liable to imprisonment, and other means of encouraging the pursuers of the outlaws and of putting a check upon their sympathisers were adopted. That all these means should have failed to produce any effect for months and months excited no little surprise. But those acquainted with the locality in which the outlaws had established themselves knew that they were afforded extraordinary facilities for the perpetration of their crimes with impunity. The ranges in which they hid abounded in secret fastnesses known only to a few, and to which it was all but impossible and extremely dangerous for the police to obtain access. Moreover, the neighbourhood swarmed with friends and sympathisers of the outlaws; indeed, the position of affairs appeared to be that one-half of the district sympathised with the murderers, and the other half was reduced to silence and inaction through fear. In such a locality and with such surroundings, the Kellys could conceal themselves for months when their pursuers displayed any unusual activity and vigilance. Hence it was that after the Mansfield tragedy as little was known of the outlaws as if they had left the colony, which, indeed, was believed to have been the case. But no sooner did a sense of security again take possession of them than they descended upon a station almost under the shadow of the ranges in which they had been established, occupied the station for a whole day and night, and having bailed up all those engaged about the place, robbed it of all that they could lay hands on.
Not content with their spoils, the outlaws proceeded to the neighbouring township of Euroa, confined the two local policeman in their own watchhouse, rushed the telegraph office, cut the telegraph wires, plundered the bank in broad daylight, and finally departed, taking with them not only all the money on the premises (upwards of £2,000), but all the men, women, and children in the establishment. The cool daring of this latest exploit showed that all the towns in the district were in imminent peril, and detachments of the permanent military force were sent to the various townships to aid the police. Returning to their secure hidingplaces, the outlaws were again lost sight of for a month or two. In February, 1879, they made their appearance at Jerilderie, New South Wales, to the utter amazement of those who had watched their movements. It was no longer a case of descending on a township situated, as is Euroa, in the very heart of their district. The outlaws had travelled 120 miles from their haunts in the Strathbogie Ranges, traversed a vast extent of level country, and crossed the Murray. The raid on Jerilderie was attended by the astounding spectacle of a handful of armed men, certainly daring and desperate to an extraordinary extent, taking possession for the second time of a town, reducing a population to a state of helpless terror, plundering at will, and escaping with impunity without a hand being raised or a shot fired against them. Apart from again displaying the cool audacity of the gang, the Jerilderie affair gave the public quite a new idea of the gravity of the situation. Localities that had previously deemed themselves safe, and took an interest in the Kelly tragedies as sensational but far-off events, began to feel that they were at any time liable to attack by a gang which had appeared in such widely separated spots.
With regard to their movements after this exploit, there is no definite information. More than 12 months elapsed without any fresh outbreak, and the most conflicting conjectures prevailed with regard to the outlaws. It was confidently asserted that they had left Australia, and the rumour gained credence in the absence of any further outbreaks. If little was known of the movements of the Kellys and their sympathisers, still less information was forthcoming with regard to the actions of the police. From July, 1879, until within a short period of the annihilation of the gang the police were directed by Assistant-commissioner Nicolson, whose plan of procedure was characterised by the utmost caution. Months passed by without the slightest information being given with regard to the police, who were at this time aided by a body of black trackers from the Queensland native police, under the direction of Sub-inspector O’Connor. Although many severe reflections were cast upon the police, information that has been recently elicited goes to show that they were under intelligent and judicious control. Mr. Nicolson carefully avoided inviting a recurrence of the Mansfield tragedy, and endeavoured so to marshal his forces as to gradually surround the outlaws, to narrow the circle around them by degrees, to cut them off from their sources of supplies, to discover many of their haunts, to detect and defeat their intended exploits, to alienate their sympathisers, and to convert some of them into spies, the whole movements of the police being meanwhile kept concealed from all persons likely to convey information to the outlaws. Mr. Nicolson felt confident that these means could not fail to bring the outlaws into his hands at an early date. Indeed the police, under his direction, prosecuted the search so vigorously and systematically, and were running them so hot a chase, that it was confidently expected by those who were behind the scenes that the gang would be run down in the course of a few weeks. Even if the gang had no definite information as to his movements, they would at least appear to have become familiar in time with the nature of the system he was pursuing through the hardships which they suffered. The want of that sense of security which they had previously possessed, the distrust of some of their former friends, the difficulty of obtaining food, and the knowledge that they were being closely watched, began to tell upon the gang, until the leader, according to his own words, became “sick of life, as he was hunted like a dog, and could get no rest, and he did not care a —— what became of him.”
After being kept at bay for upwards of a year, during which period, it is stated, not a month passed without Mr. Nicolson receiving definite information of the movements of the outlaws, the Kellys turned their attention to those whom they suspected of betraying them, and commenced what was probably intended to be a series of reprisals by that desperate and dastardly act of revenge, the murder of Aaron Sherritt. In Sherritt the Kellys had had, up to a recent date, a friend and accomplice. He was the owner of a small selection, on which he at one time received and kept the horses stolen by the gang. A feud, however, arose between him and his former friends, and Sherritt soon placed himself in communication with the police, afforded them much valuable information, and was employed by them for some time. All this was known to the outlaws, who made no secret of their intention to have a dire revenge on Sherritt. On the 27th June they proceeded to his hut at Sebastopol, a place halfway between Beechworth and Eldorado. At about 6 o’clock in the evening the gang reached the spot. The hut was found to be occupied, as the Kellys had anticipated, by a small body of police, besides the object of their search. Keeping in the background, and at a safe distance from the hut themselves, the Kellys sent a man whom they had forced to accompany them and to assist in the execution of their designs, to the door of the hut. He knocked at the door. Sherritt opened it, and said, “Who is here?” The man replied, “I have lost my way. Can you put me on the right track for Sebastopol?” Mrs. Aaron Sherritt told her husband to go out and direct the man. He accordingly went out, and found that the man was Antonio Wicks, a digger, and that he was handcuffed. Joe Byrne stood behind Wicks, and the moment Sherritt stepped forward Byrne shot him through the eye. Sherritt staggered backwards, and then received another bullet in the chest. The murderer, prior to firing, exclaimed, “You’ll not blow what you will do to us any more.” Sherritt died instantly. The gang promptly retired behind trees at a little distance from the hut, and called out to the police, “Come out of that, you —— dogs, and surrender.” The police declared that they would die before they would surrender, and the gang, threatening to burn the house and roast them inside, fired a volley at the hut, and subsequently endeavoured to set fire to it. The shots fired had no effect, and the police escaped injury. The outlaws remained in the immediate vicinity for some hours, and the police meanwhile acted entirely on the defensive, and made no attempt to fire at or rush out upon the gang. The reason given for their inactivity was that the night was dark, while there was a bright fire burning within the hut, so that while the bushrangers were out of sight the constables could not appear at the door or window without being seen and shot. The victim of this cold-blooded murder was a young man of somewhat shady antecedents. His father, John Sherritt, an ex-policeman, is a selector, and resides at Sebastopol. The deceased man had a selection of 107 acres about a mile from his fathers place, and it is noteworthy that he was assisted in fencing it in by Joe Byrne and Ned Kelly. He was about 24 years of age, of robust health, and was noted as a runner and jumper. His holding was on the Woolshed Creek, in the county of Burgoyne, and about two months ago he sold it. After selling the land he built a hut at Sebastopol, about two miles away, and it is there that he was shot. The constables in the hut were four in number, namely, Constables Armstrong, Alexander, Duross, and Dowling, and there were also in the house with them Mrs. Sherritt, widow of the deceased, and Mrs. Barry, her mother. Constable Armstrong gives the following account of the action of the police:―”Our instructions were to remain in the room in Sherritt’s house during the day. At about 6 o’clock I heard a knock at the door, and a voice saying, “Come out, Sherritt; I have lost my way.” I then heard a shot, and immediately after another, and I said, “Take your arms, boys; the Kellys are here.’ Our arms consisted of double-barrelled guns and revolvers. The guns were loaded with swan-shot wire cartridges. I then heard Mrs. Barry say, “Aaron is shot.” I went to the front window and knelt on the bed to fire out, but I could see nothing but darkness. A bullet then passed from the front quite close to my head. Several shots were then fired. I then heard a voice outside say, “Come out and surrender, or we’ll roast you.’ We all replied ‘We’ll die first.’ I then went to the front door, and went to fire in the direction I heard some voices, but Mrs. Barry and Mrs. Sherritt were in the way, and I could not fire. I then said, ‘Boys, come and let us break portholes.’ We tried but could not succeed. I then said, ‘Men, have you got any suggestions to make; our conduct will be severely commented upon in this matter if we don’t make a bold fight.’ I said, ‘We’ll rush them, are you game to follow?’ I asked each man separately, and he replied, ‘Yes.’ We then decided to wait for a better chance, thinking they might try to rush us, being the attacking party, and thinking also that we might get a shot at them when the light was extinguished. We remained quiet for some time, and the candle went out. I then closed both doors. We looked out then to fire. We heard voices, but could see no one. There was talking at intervals up to about daylight. When it got light, another constable and I went round the house, and found they had left.” At the inquest held on the body of Sherritt at Beechworth on the 31st ult., the above facts were elicited, and the jury returned a verdict to the effect that Aaron Sherritt died from wounds received by him at the hands of Joseph Byrne, that the wounds were inflicted by Byrne with intent to wilfully and maliciously murder Aaron Sherritt, and that Daniel Kelly aided and abetted Byrne in the murder. While 11 of the 12 jurymen were in favour of adding a rider expressing the opinion that the police had done everything in their power under the circumstances.
Intelligence of the cold-blooded murder of Sherritt at Sebastopol was at once communicated to the police authorities at Beechworth and at Melbourne. In Melbourne, the news created the greatest excitement, and fired the authorities with a determination to leave no stone unturned to prevent the outlaws from again escaping. No sooner was the news received in town than the Chief Secretary, the Hon. R. Ramsay, instructed Captain Standish, chief commissioner of police, to have a special train immediately sent to the district with reinforcements of police and black trackers, who had been withdrawn from the locality. At a quarter-past 10 on the night of Sunday, June 23, the special train left town with Inspector O’Connor and his five black trackers, and the representatives of the Melbourne press. Mrs. O’Connor, and her sister, were also passengers by the train on this perilous journey. The train proceeded on its course as far as Benalla without any mishap beyond dashing through some railway gates beyond Craigieburn, a mischance which did slight damage to the engine. At Benalla Superintendent Hare, who had taken the place of Assistant-commissioner Nicolson in the control of the police of the district, joined the train, along with seven policemen. Knowing that the criminals they had to cope with would revel in such an exploit as the wreckage of a special train known to be conveying police, the authorities at this stage adopted the precaution of sending on a pilot engine in advance of the special train. At 2 o’clock on the Monday morning the train left Benalla for Beechworth, and was soon travelling at the rate of about 60 miles an hour towards the latter town, in the environs of which the bushrangers had been last seen, and which is 50 miles distant by rail from Benalla.
THE RAILWAY LINE TORN UP
Barely 14 miles of the journey had been travelled, when the driver of the “special” observed the pilot-engine returning, and the train was speedily brought to a standstill. The stoppage occurred at a paddock about a mile and a quarter from the township of Glenrowan, and the passengers by the train were startled by the intelligence that the line of rails had been torn up beyond Glenrowan, and that the outlaws, whom the party was expecting to find at a spot 40 miles distant, were waiting for the train in ambush. When the surprising news was received, Superintendent Hare ordered his men to be in readiness, and having had all the lights in the train extinguished, went into the Glenrowan Station. Although it was not known at the time by what means the train was saved from destruction, it subsequently transpired that the schoolmaster at Glenrowan―Mr. Thomas Curnow―had heard of and frustrated the bold attempt of the gang. Knowing that the line had been pulled up, he proceeded along the line to stop the train. Kindling a light behind a red handkerchief he improvised a danger signal, which fortunately attracted the attention of the driver of the pilot-engine, and he in turn stopped the train that was coming on behind. Mr. Curnow then informed the police of the presence of the outlaws in the neighbourhood.
ENCOUNTER WITH THE OUTLAWS
No sooner had the train reached the station then Constable Bracken rushed onto the platform, wild with excitement, stating that he had just escaped from the Kellys, and that they were at the moment in possession of Jones’s public house, about a hundred yards from the station. He called upon the police to surround the house, and his advice was followed without delay. Superintendent Hare with his men, and Sub-inspector O’Connor with his black trackers, at once advanced on the hotel. They found it to be a small wooden building of one story, containing four rooms and a kitchen. As they approached the house a volley was fired on them by the gang from the front verandah, and for some time there was nothing to be seen or heard but an unceasing succession of flashes and reports. In the first lull it was ascertained that Superintendent Hare had been, soon after his arrival, shot through the wrist, receiving a severe wound. He was compelled to retire for a time to have his wounds dressed. He endeavoured to return to his post afterwards, but had become so weak from loss of blood that he was forthwith removed from the scene of the affray, and placed under medical treatment. In his absence Inspector O’Connor and Senior-constable Kelly directed the police, and kept up a constant fire on the bushrangers in the doomed hotel. The first victim of the affray was a son of the landlady, Mrs. Jones, who was shot in the back, and afterwards died from the effect of the wound. The attacking party maintained the state of siege until daybreak, when police reinforcements arrived from Benalla, Beechworth, and Wangaratta. Superintendent Sadleir came from Benalla with nine more men, and Sergeant Steele, of Wangaratta, with six, thus augmenting the besieging force to about 30 men.
CAPTURE OF NED KELLY
Before daylight Senior-constable Kelly found a revolving rifle and a cap lying in the bush, about 100 yards from the hotel. The rifle was covered with blood, and a pool of blood lay near it. This was evidently the property of one of the bushrangers, and a suspicion therefore arose that some of them had escaped. The weapon proved to have been that of Edward Kelly, the leader of the gang, who was found to have escaped from the hotel. He soon attracted the attention of the police himself by firing boldly at them as they were besieging the hotel. They immediately turned on their new assailant, and fired a succession of shots at him, but all with no effect. Kelly walked about receiving the fire of the police with the coolest indifference. He seemed completely bullet-proof, and at length it occurred to Sergeant Steele, who was firing at him, that the fellow was encased in mail and that his legs might possibly prove the only vulnerable parts. His impressions were correct, and directing his aim at the outlaw’s legs, brought him to the ground with the cry, “I am done―I am done.” Steele rushed up along with Senior-constable Kelly and others. The outlaw howled like a wild beast brought to bay, and swore at the police. He was first seized by Steele, and as that officer grappled with him he fired off another charge from his revolver. This shot was evidently intended for Steele, but from the smart way in which he secured the murderer the sergeant escaped. Kelly became gradually quiet, and it was soon found that he had been utterly disabled. He had been shot in the left foot, left leg, right hand, left arm, and twice in the region of the groin. But no bullet had penetrated his armour. Having been divested of his armour he was carried down to the railway station, and placed in a guard’s van. Subsequently he was removed to the stationmaster’s office, and his wounds were dressed there by Dr. Nicholson, of Benalla.
An examination of the armour worn by Edward Kelly and by his three comrades showed it to have been of a most substantial character. It was made of iron a quarter of an inch thick, and consisted of a long breast-plate, shoulder-plates, back-guard, and helmet. The helmet resembled a nail-can without a crown, and with a long slit at the elevation of the eyes to look through. All these articles are believed to have been made by two men, one living near Greta, and the other near Oxley. The iron was procured by the larceny of ploughshares, and larcenies of this kind having been rather frequent of late in the Kelly district the police had begun to suspect that the gang were preparing for action. Ned Kelly’s armour alone weighed 97lb, and those who saw it ceased to wonder at the singular immunity from injury which the desperado enjoyed during the greater part of his encounter with the police.
THE SIEGE OF THE HOTEL
Having captured the leader of the gang, the police again turned their attention to the hotel. The siege having been continued for 12 hours without effect, it was determined that a decisive step should be taken. Superintendent Sadleir, who was in control of the police at the time, directed his men to set fire to the building. Prior to the execution of this order an extraordinary scene was witnessed. It is thus described in a narrative of an eyewitness that appeared in The Australasian, who, in speaking of the final warning that was given to the gang and all others within the inn, says:―“I don’t know who it was called out, but these were the words, ‘All those inside there had better surrender at once; we will give you 10 minutes to do so; after that time we shall fir volleys into the house.’ Instantly a white handkerchief was seen to wave from the doorway, and at the same moment some 25 persons rushed out towards the police line with their hands held high up above their heads. They rushed towards us crying out in piteous accents “Don’t fire! For God’s sake, don’t shoot us; don’t, pray don’t!” They were here ordered to lie down, which they obeyed at once, all falling flat on their stomachs, with their hands still in the air. It was a remarkable scene, and the faces of the poor fellows were blanched with fear, and some of them looked as if they were out of their minds. The police passed them one by one, in case any of the outlaws should be amongst the crowd.” At 10 minutes to 3 the final volley was fired into the hotel, and under its cover Senior-constable Johnson, of Violet Town, ran up to the house with a burning bundle of straw, and applied it to the floor. All eyes were for a time fixed on the building; the circle of besiegers closed in on it, and watched anxiously for the result of the senior-constable’s exploit. Meanwhile, Mrs. Skillian, a sister of the Kellys, and one of their most active confederates, had arrived on the scene, and rushed to the hotel, with the intention, it is believed, of urging the outlaws to avert the terrible fate that was in store for them, but the police stopped her. The hotel was soon a mass of flames; still the gang made no signs either of surrendering or of attempting to escape. While the house was burning a Roman Catholic priest, the Very Rev. M. Gibney, of Perth, Western Australia, walked up to the front door, and at great risk entered the building. In one of the rooms he saw two dead bodies lying side by side. They were those of Daniel Kelly and Stephen Hart. Whether the two outlaws killed one another or committed suicide, or whether they were mortally wounded, and fell side by side, has been the subject of many conflicting conjectures. All that is certain is that they died before the flames reached them. The priest had barely time to examine the bodies before the fire forced him to leave the house. It was not long before the building became a heap of ruins. All that was left of the inn was the lamp-post and signboard. Among the embers were found the two bodies, charred beyond recognition. They presented a horrible spectacle, nothing but the trunks and skulls being left, and these almost burnt to a cinder. The armour of which the outlaws had recently divested themselves was found by their side. There appeared to be nothing to lead to the positive identification of the bodies, excepting the discovery of the armour near them and the positive knowledge that they were within the inn. Byrne’s body was found in the entrance to the bar-room. It also presented a dreadful appearance. It looked as if it had been ill-nourished. The thin face was black with smoke, and the arms were bent at right angles at the elbows, the stiffened joints below the elbows standing erect. The body was quite stiff, and its appearance and the position in which it was found corroborated the statement that Byrne died early in the day of the siege. He is said to have received the fatal wound, which was in the groin, while drinking a glass of whisky at the bar. He had a ring on his right hand which had belonged to Constable Scanlan, who was murdered by the gang on the Wombat Ranges. In an outhouse immediately behind the main building was found the body of Martin Cherry, an old man employed as a platelayer on the railway. He had been imprisoned by the Kellys, and while confined in the hotel was mortally wounded. It was at first supposed that he was accidentally shot by the police, but later information tends to the suspicion that he was deliberately shot by Ned Kelly at the beginning of the Glenrowan affray. At a coronial inquiry held on his body, the presiding magistrate returned the following verdict:― “Having heard the evidence given herewith touching the death of the deceased Martin Cherry, and having carefully considered the same, I find his death was caused by a gunshot wound received during the time he was a prisoner of the Kelly gang in Jones’s Hotel, Glenrowan, on Monday last, and that no blame can be attached either to any member of the police force or to any civilians who were then firing at the Kelly gang and Jones’s Hotel and Kitchen.” A similar verdict was returned in the case of the boy Jones, who was wounded in the same place, as well as his sister and a boy named Reardon.
THE PLOT OF THE GANG
The information elicited since the tragic affair at Glenrowan shows that the outlaws had spared no effort to carry out to a successful issue their design of wrecking the special train. They went to the residence of the local stationmaster, Mr. Stanistreet, announced themselves with characteristic boldness, called the officer out of his house, and directed him to take up the rails. The stationmaster explained that he knew nothing about lifting rails off the line, and was then left in charge of Steve Hart while the Kellys went along the line to find the repairers. With regard to what followed the stationmaster says―“Hart came up to me and said, ‘You get the tools out that are necessary to raise those rails.’ I replied, ‘I have not the key to the chest.’ He said, ‘We’ll break the lock,’ and he got one of the men to do so. They took all the tools out of the chest, which lay in a back shed or tool-house between the station and the crossing. Soon afterwards Ned and two of the repairers, Reardon and Sullivan, arrived. Ned, accompanied by these two men, proceeded down the line towards Wangaratta. We stood with Hart in the cold at the hut for about two hours. At last Ned Kelly and the repairer returned. Ned inquired about the signalling on the line―how I stopped trains with the signal lamps. I told him white is right, and red wrong, and green is ‘gently come along.’ He then said, ‘There is a special train coming, and you will give no signal..’ Then speaking to Hart, he said, ‘Watch his countenance, and if he gives any signal shoot him.’ He marched us into my house, and left us under the charge of Steve Hart. Subsequently other persons were made prisoners and lodged in my house to the number of about 17. we were locked up all day on Sunday, but we were allowed out under surveillance.” Leaving the stationmaster in the charge of Hart, Kelly proceeded with the platelayers to a spot apparently chosen with a fiendish determination to bring about the complete destruction of the train. At the place situated the line took a sudden turn down an incline, and passed over a gully on a high embankment. A creek in the gully was crossed by a culvert. This culvert is situated just at the end of the sharpest part of the curve and at the foot of the incline, and it was just at this point that the rails were torn up. Had the special train continued its journey without any warning having been given, it would have been impossible for the engine-driver to see the breach in the line until too late, and the inevitable result would have been that the train, with its living freight, would have rushed over the embankment into the gully beneath; if it had gone on the left side, it would have had a fall of about 20ft.; and if on the right, a fall of about 30ft. At the spot indicated the platelayers were compelled, under peremptory orders from Ned Kelly, to so remove the rails as to render the destruction of the train inevitable. How the plans of the gang failed, the foregoing narrative will have shown.
THREATENED OUTBREAK OF SYMPATHISERS
Shortly after the capture of Edward Kelly he was attended by Dr. Nicholson, of Benalla, and Dr. Charles Ryan, of Melbourne. Divested of his massive coat of armour, he looked a most extraordinary and pitiable object. He was literally covered with wounds, his face and hands were smeared with blood, he was shivering with cold, and his face was a ghastly paleness. Helpless in the hands of those whom he had defied to capture him alive, he was speedily removed from the district which had been the scene of his wholesale plunder, his daring exploits, and his cold-blooded murders. But the excitement did not cease with his removal. Immediately after the tragic event at Glenrowan, the charred remains of Daniel Kelly, Steve Hart, and Joseph Byrne were handed over to their friends, without any formal magisterial inquiry. Not until after the handing over of the bodies did the authorities recognise the necessity for going through the usual formalities, and then it was a matter of extreme difficulty to regain possession of the bodies, which had been removed to the hut of Mrs. Skillian at Seven Mile Creek, which had become the scene of wild orgies. One or two of the sympathisers with the gang openly defied the police to interfere with the funerals of Kelly and Hart. “If you want the bodies back,” said they, “you will have to fight for them.” No one could have gone to the Seven Mile Creek without a strong body of police, and even then the visit would not have been unattended with danger. Indeed one of the Kelly sympathisers told the police that the remains would be interred at a certain hour on Wednesday whether inquiries were held or not, and reports came from Greta that all the Kelly sympathisers there had made themselves intoxicated at the wake, and were bouncing about armed, and threatening to attack the police. The greatest excitement prevailed in the district, and sensational rumours reached town with regard to disturbances that were said to have arisen through attempts to hold an inquest on the bodies. The police, however, were too cautious to afford any pretext for fresh outbreaks. Instead of going into the midst of the nest of sympathisers and friends, the magistrate deputed to conduct the necessary inquest gave an order for internment. Senior-constable Kelly, with four troopers, accordingly proceeded to Glenrowan by the forenoon train, and two or three policemen were directed to come down from Wangaratta. Their orders were to accompany the magistrate to Mrs. Skillian’s hut if it was necessary to go there, and if that had really had to be done a disturbance, and probably more bloodshed, would have been the result. At the last moment, however, it was decided that as the game was not worth the candle, a magistrate’s order for interment would suffice, and the police were therefore recalled. The hut of Mrs. Skillian, to which the bodies of Hart and Kelly had been conveyed, became a centre of attraction in the district. Crowds of questionable characters flocked to view the remains of two men who had figured for a decade as centres of a system of crime almost beyond belief, and it was in these motley gatherings that the passing disturbances occurred. Many of the male sympathisers were armed, and whilst in a drunken state professed to be anxious for a brush with the police, and it is averred that one of the relatives of the Kellys held up his hand over the remains, and swore to Kate Kelly that he would avenge the slaughter of the gang. Nothing, however, came of the wild threats, and within a week after the assasins of Sergeant Kennedy, Constables Lonigan and Scanlan, and Cherry and Sherritt, met with so tragic a retribution, comparative quiet was restored in the district which they had so long plundered and terrorised.
EXCITEMENT IN MELBOURNE
In Melbourne the news of the startling occurrences in the North-eastern district was waited for with the greatest avidity and read with the most intense interest. On the day of the Glenrowan affray the city was a scene of unexampled excitement. Business was almost suspended, and Collins-street in the vicinity of The Argus office was blocked by a large and excited crowd, eager for the latest intelligence with regard to a tragedy which developed more and more startling features as it proceeded. Extraordinary editions of The Argus were issued at short intervals, supplying particulars of each successive stage of the encounter with the outlaws, and these were seized upon with avidity. In the capitals of the neighbouring colonies, too, the news of the destruction of the Kelly gang gave rise to the utmost excitement, and congratulations were tendered to those who had been instrumental in bringing condign punishment on the outlaws. The excitement prevalent in Melbourne received a new stimulus on the 29th ult., when Edward Kelly was brought to Melbourne. The authorities had been reticent in the extreme with regard to their movements, but a number of people learnt not only that the notorious outlaw was on his way to Melbourne, but also when and where he would arrive. A large crowd gathered at the Spencer-street station, anticipating that the outlaw would have been brought to the terminus, but the more correctly informed went to the North Melbourne station, knowing that he would be removed from the train there. Shortly before 2 o’clock the ordinary train from Wodonga arrived, bringing the prisoner. He was still in a state of prostration and helplessness, and was quietly removed from the van of the train on a stretcher, placed in a covered waggon, and conveyed as quickly as possible to the Melbourne gaol, where a crowd of 700 or 800 persons had assembled. No demonstration of any sort occurred, and the prisoner was soon safely lodged within the gaol walls. He was attended by Dr. Shields, the medical officer of the gaol, under whose treatment he soon showed signs of improvement in health. A day or two after his arrival Kelly was permitted to have an interview with his mother, who was undergoing her sentence in the gaol for resisting the police while they were engaged in the eventful search that culminated in the Mansfield tragedy. Superintendent Hare returned to the town by the train which brought down Edward Kelly. Mr. Hare was on his return to his residence attended by Dr. Charles Ryan, and it was found that his left wrist had been completely shattered, a conical bullet having penetrated it, breaking the bones, and leaving a nasty wound. Amputation of the hand was at first thought necessary, but this operation was averted; and Mr. Hare, who is on a visit to the Hon. W. J. Clarke, at Sunbury, is progressing favourably.
Facts elicited since the annihilation of the gang tend to show that the outlaws, forced from their concealment by the activity of the police, determined to terrify any wavering friends by the murder of Sherritt, and then, afraid of being tracked by the Queensland native police―of whom the gang had a great dread―took steps to destroy them by wrecking the special train; but the outlaws fell into their own trap. They were unable to leave Glenrowan because they had to keep guard over the railway officials in order to ensure, as they thought, the success of the scheme. Edward Kelly, when asked what led the gang to go to the hotel, replied that they resorted to it as a place of refuge, but that he would, for his part, have fought the police in the train, and killed every one of the passengers; and he added, “If I were once right again, I would go to the barracks, shoot every one of the traps, and not give one a chance.” He had opportunities of escaping from Glenrowan, but preferred “to see the thing out,” and thus fell just before his comrades met their tragic end. With the tragedy at Glenrowan ended the career of a band of marauders who had made a living by crime, revelled in bloodshed, and startled by the bold daring of their exploits a colony not unfamiliar with sensational bushranging episodes. To the principal agents in bringing about the destruction of the gang hearty congratulations were offered by the Government, and the general public received with unbounded satisfaction the news of the destruction of a gang of desperadoes whose long immunity from punishment was producing a bad effect on a certain section of the community, and whose capture was essential to the breaking up of the nest of the marauders―the criminal colony, as it has been termed―in which they flourished.