Letter to his brother concerning his capture by the Kelly Gang
Original held by The Mitchell Library, Sydney
Donated by grandson in 1947
Note: T. H. Cameron was 16 years old at the time of writing this letter
Glenrowan 8 July 1880
My Dear Brother,
You requested me in your last letter to give you the full details of how the Kellys were caught at Glenrowan. Well, as I was telling you I came up to Glenrowan and I went over to Reardons place and I was surprised to see nobody there, not even one of the children, nor anybody to tell me where they were, so I was coming home again when I met Jack Delaney and his two brothers, and I asked them where the Reardons were gone to and they said they didn’t know, that they came up to Reardons to go hunting with them and they couldn’t make out where they had gone to. So we decided to go up to Glenrowan and ascertain where they had gone to, and as we got close to the station, Ned Kelly came riding up to us and asked us who we were, we told him, and he said we must know that he was Ned Kelly.
I told him that I knew who he was directly I saw him. “Well” he said, “that’s all the better if I know that but he thought it was better to explain himself and that we had better accompany him over to the station.” We went over and there were about 25 or 30 bailed up then and more arriving every now and again. After a bit, Curnow, his wife and sister and Dave Mortimer came down, and, of course, they were blocked at once, they had to take out the horse and put the buggy in the yard and tie up the horse. Most of us were down at Stanistreets gate and Byrnes was riding to and fro Jones Public House and brandy and he made us drink all round. I didn’t want to at first but he made me. We were knocking about there all day, but we couldn’t escape because they kept too sharp an eye on us. I was talking long time with Joe Byrnes and it was him told about the rails being torn up and that they came here to kill the police and black tracker. But what they wanted to do was too bad.
After dark we all went over to the public house and they were all dancing and singing. Twice I said I would clear out and Jenny Jones heard me and she said that if I did she would tell Ned Kelly and 3 or 4 other chaps said the same and Jenny Jones overheard them and she said she would tell Ned if they attempted to do so. It was about this time, one o’clock, that Joe Byres gave me a fig of tobacco and I have it yet, and I have a cross and a small shield made out of one bullet Ned Kelly fired off at the police and I have some small revolver cartridges that I found near where Dan Kelly and Steve Hart were burned, and I have some other things that I got there. I will send them down to you if you like and I know where I could get one of their rings too, they will be relics, you know. It was between 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning that the police came up and then Constable Bracken got away and told them the Kelly were in the hotel and that there were about 35 persons locked up in the hotel.
After the Kelly shot Hart, the police surrounded the house and didn’t fire much till the Wangaratta Police came then they commenced shooting and it was something awful when the Beechworth police arrived, then more came from Benalla. I don’t know how many police there were but I think there must have been fully 150 and all the fellows firing on that house at once. I can tell you it was something awful. The room I was in was fairly riddled with balls coming in every direction breaking the clock and other things on the mantlepiece and coming through the windows and hitting the table and sofa. That will tell you how close they were to us and the worst of it was they knew that we were in there. It was all nonsense of them saying that they would have let us out if we had tried to get out, see when Mick Reardon tried to get out how he was shot and the same with Martin Cherry, it was Sergeant Steele that shot Martin and Mick Reardon too. I was up at Wangaratta and I saw M. Reardon and he is getting on alright. The picture in the Sketcher where the prisoners escape is nothing like it, we did not fall down like that at all.
I can’t think of anything more at present but I will send you snatches at times when I think of it. I saw Ned Kelly after he was caught he was all covered with blood. Both the Kelly, Steve Hart and Byrne had strapped trousers and long coats and all these float hats. Ned Kelly trousers were strapped like this it looked so nice, all the others plain strapped. Every one of them had these fancy boots with large heels shooting under the feet. Dan Kelly and Steve Hart were the smallest of the four, being very little taller than myself. Jenny Jones was making very free with them, getting on their knees and dancing with them and kissing them. I think 6 months in gaol would do her no harm. If you want these things that I was telling you about, write and tell me and I will send.
I remain your, Affec. Brother,
T. H. Cameron