The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (17)

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"It seems to be certain that Ned Kelly is in the neighbourhood of Greta, or from thence to Connelly's and the bogs near Wombat. 1 am very anxious to make some special efforts to have the matter set at rest and his apprehension effected, if possible. I have consulted with the senior constable in charge at Greta, and it appears that there is not much likelihood of him and the constable with him there doing much towards arresting Kelly or even disturbing him for the neighbourhood. It has been proposed to collect, for the purpose of a thorough search, what constables are in the district who know Kelly personally, sending, say, two of them to Mansfield to act with Sergeant Kennedy from that end and the others to act with the Greta police, and to search simultaneously up and down the King River and neighbouring places. I shall be glad to receive any suggestions that Sergeant Kennedy may have to offer on the subject, and whether he is of the opinion that anything might be gained by his coming here for a day or so to consult with the sub-officer taking charge of the party starting from Greta end-that is supposing the expedition should be determined on."

On August 16 Sergeant Kennedy answered as follows:- "I beg to report for the Superintendent's information that I am of opinion that the offender Kelly could be routed from his hiding place if the arrangements proposed by the Superintendent were properly carried out.

"The distance from Mansfield to the King River is so great and the country so impenetrable that a party of men from here would, in my opinion, require to establish a kind of depot at some distance beyond the Wombat-say, Stringybark Creek, seven miles beyond Monk's. By forming a camp there it would enable the party to keep up a continuous search between there and the flat country towards the King River, Fifteen Mile Creek and Holland's Creek. While the Mansfield men would be doing the ranges and creeks in the neighbour- hood, the men forming the Greta party would be operating on the flat country along the rivers and creeks abovementioned. I feel sure that by efficiently carrying cut this plan Kelly would soon be disturbed, if not captured. I believe Kelly has secreted himself in some isolated part of that country lying between Wombat and King River, and in a similar way to which Power (the bushranger) did; and seeing that he was a mate of Power 1 think it is reasonable to conclude he would imitate his example in this respect, seeing it was the means of keeping Power in comparative safety so long. 1 am not aware if Mounted Constable Michael Scanlon, of Mooroopna, is personally acquainted with Kelly, but 1 am sure there is no man who could render more service in the proposed expedition than he could, as he knows every part of that country lying between here and the King River. I am of opinion Constable Scanian, Constable Mcintyre and myself would be quite sufficient to undertake the, working of that country without any more assistance. 1 should like to have a personal interview with the sub-officer taking charge of the party starting from Greta."

The place where Sergeant Kennedy proposed to establish a depot was where he subsequently met the Kellys in armed encounter.

Superintendent Sadleir was not quite agreeable to send the party of only three suggested by Sergeant Kennedy, as none of them could definitely recognise the wanted men. Hence he selected Constable Lonigan to accompany the party.

The expedition was delayed through several causes, but on October 18 Superintendent Sadleir wrote to Sub-Inspector Pewtress, the officer in charge of Mansfield, as follows:-

"It has been decided to carry out the plan proposed by me on August 10 last, but which has unavoidably been delayed. I wish the party to start work early on Tuesday next (22/10/78) from each end, i.e., from Mansfield and Greta. As I have already informed Sergeant Kennedy by telegraph, he will be required here to consult with the other sub-officers engaged in this matter. Let him come by to-morrow's coach, bringing a plain saddle with him, as I wish to take back a horse specially fitted for this expedition. Constable Mclntyre and Constable Scanlan will also form two of the party from Mansfield end."

"P.S.-This matter must be dealt with by everyone concerned as strictly confidential."

On October 21 (Monday) Superintendent Sadleir gave final instructions:-

"A party which will consist of Sergeant Kennedy, Constables Mclntyre, Scanian and Lonigan will start from Mansfield on Friday next, commencing the search for offenders Kelly from the Wombat end.

"Constable Lonigan is ordered to report at Mansfield on Wednesday next (23/10/78), but should he not arrive in time the party must start without him. Both Constables Scanian and Lonigan can recognise Kelly should they be so successful as to come upon him. The other party start from this end on Friday morning. The men forming it are:-Senior Constables Strahan and Shoebridge and Constables Thorn and Ryan."

On Thursday, October 24, a gold escort from Woods' Point -arrived at Mansfield in charge of Senior-Constable John Kelly, and with Benalla as its destination. Senior-Constable Kelly was met at the coach by Sergeant Kennedy. The latter, in confidence, informed Senior-Constable Kelly that he was going out in search of the Kellys. Kennedy asked Kelly to let him have a Spencer rifle, which Constable Horwood of the escort party had with him. Senior-Constable Kelly replied that as they only had one rifle between them it would be very injudicious to part with it, but after some consideration he said: "Get a second revolver and give it to Horwood and you can have the rifle." This was the long-range weapon that Constable Scanlan carried and used in the fatal expedition.

The police left Mansfield before daylight as a party of diggers on Friday morning, October 25. The party comprised Sergeant Michael Kennedy and Constables Scanian, Lonigan and Mclntyre, the latter being the cook or rouseabout of the party. They arrived at the spot where Sergeant Kennedy had intended to establish a depot as a base from which to explore that part of the country. They arrived early in the day and made their camp. The police were attired in civilian clothes, and resembled a party of prospectors and under ordinary circumstances would doubtless have succeeded in their mission to Stringybark Creek. But the men they sought considered that a state of war existed between them and the police, and knowing that the police were in every way better prepared and better armed they were ever watchful. It is doubtful whether any disguise would have succeeded in passing their scrutiny.

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This document gives you the text of this book about the KellyGang. The text has been retyped from a copy of the original. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors. JJ Kenneally was one of the first authors to tell this story from the KellyGang's point of view

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