The Argus at KellyGang 8/7/1880 (2)
The Argus continued with its report of the KellyGang at Glenrowan
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.
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