The Argus at KellyGang 17/12/1878 (4)

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The leading article in The Argus of Friday concerning the bushrangers has been the subject of much conversation here, and the proposal to employ the garrison corps to protect the neighbouring townships while the police are sent in pursuit of the Kelly gang is most cordially endorsed throughout the district. With the present police arrangements, the gang may never be captured, unless by the merest chance. The officers in charge of the various stations are hampered with red tape and departmental instructions from their superiors, who reside scores of miles away, and who know nothing of the geography or requirements of the district. Will it be believed that upon the receipt of important information, when instant action is necessary, the officer in charge is actually compelled to telegraph to his superior officers for instructions? He dare not act until a reply is received, which as a rule arrives too late to allow the information received to be of any value. This has positively occurred within the past few days. Everything now depends on prompt and soldierly action, and the police should be in a position to start in pursuit at a moment's notice on receipt of reliable information. I do not know a more efficient or energetic officer than Sub Inspector Pewtress who is stationed here. Although he has spent years in the city office, he has since the outrage, shown an aptitude for bush work that should put to shame more experienced men, and I firmly believe that if a score of good men were placed under his sole charge, with carte blanche to act on an emergency, some great good would result; but at present it is well known that his hands are tied, in consequence of the absurd regulations to which I have referred. I think it also my duty to inform you that a party of police left Mansfield on Friday with breech- loading guns, and what do you think? The cartridges were made of nothing but No. 2 shot or small slugs, which are bound to scatter before they are 20 yards from the gun. The police here are under the impression that, in the event of their taking the Kellys, they will not receive one penny of the reward. If they are mistaken, I think they should be set right; it might make a difference in their efforts. Meetings are being held here for the purpose of organising a fund to erect a memorial, in the town of Mansfield, in memory of Sergeant Kennedy and constables Lonigan and Scanlan.




Everything has been very quiet today, and for a wonder there have been very few rumours respecting the whereabouts of the Kellys afloat. A large and well armed search party loft here last evening, but the direction they intended taking was, of course, kept secret. Today, two parties came in to Benalla after being out in the ranges for several days. The weather has been frightfully hot of late, especially in the bush, where there is no circulation of air, and the close, oppressive heat has had great effect both on men and horses. Many of the latter are completely knocked up with their exertions. One of these parties searched the ranges as far as Mount Separation , which is about 20 miles to the rear of Euroa. At only one place did they come upon any- bearing the slightest resemblance to the trail of the gang. At an old deserted hut, traces were found of a party having encamped there within the last two or three weeks, and the reason it is thought that this was the Kellys was the fact that on the trunks of many of the trees surrounding the hut were the marks of bullets as if some target practice had taken place. An apparently trivial circumstance occurred in this township on Saturday, but as every trifle has to be carefully attended to in this affair, the matter is now being enquired into. A small selector living near Merton, which is close to the home of the Kellys, and who is also known to be an acquaintance of the family, was in here on Saturday afternoon drinking in some of the hotels. At one place he spent 15s., all of which was paid in sixpences. It was also noticed at other places that he was well supplied with small silver. No notice was taken of the occurrence at first, and it was only when some person happened to remember that about £20 worth of sixpences was stolen from the National Bank at Euroa that it was deemed advisable to notify the matter to the police authorities. By that time, the man had left the township, but a full enquiry will be made.


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