The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (18)
THE BATTLE OF STPINGYBARK CREEK
Ned and Dan Kelly, with their mates, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart, worked constantly mining for gold from April till October 1878. They lived in a log hut built years before by some previous prospectors on Kelly's Creek. In those days, when gold was frequently discovered in large quantities and very rich patches, the pioneer miners were not satisfied with the yields at Stringybark and Kelly's Creeks, and left for other fields. The Kellys did not get a great quantity of gold from these creeks, but they secured enough to keep the kettle boiling at home and at their mining camp. They had a regular system of communication with their home at Greta, and were regularly supplied with food and clothing. They were informed of the latest developments at their mother's trial, and of any police movements. At first Ned had left home to keep Dan out of the reach of the warrant which brought Fitzpatrick to their home. But Ned himself was "wanted" now for his participation in the Fitzpatrick episode.
From their camp on Kelly's Creek, Joe Byrne on some occasions went to Mansfield provisions, but as he was a stranger there, his visits attracted no attention.
The spring came in early that year, and there was good grass on the banks of the creeks, and more care had to be taken in controlling the roving habits of their horses. Thus it happened that when, on one occasion, Dan Kelly went down to head them back towards their camp, he noticed the track of a strange horse. He followed this track, and before he had gone far, noticed that the trees along the trail had been blazed. Still following the trail, he found a series of "baits" at intervals through the timber. To the experienced bushman the interpretation was simple. Strange horse, blazed trail, baits. Solution: Tolmie's boundary rider had been there, laying baits to poison dingoes, which were plentiful in the neighbourhood. Tolmie was the local squatter, who had a large run in the district.
The Kellys had been informed by their relatives and friends that the Mansfield police were preparing to go in pursuit of them. They were also informed that the Mansfield police had boasted that they were seeking them and that they would bring the Kellys back with them, dead or alive. The police preparations started in August, as already stated, but the actual pursuit was delayed until the end of October.
The boundary rider who came across the horses of the Kellys informed his employer (Mr Tolmie) that he believed the Kellys were camped in the vicinity of Stringybark Creek. Mr Tolmie, in turn, passed this information to Sergeant Kennedy, whom he took out to Wombat Ranges and showed him the shingled hut on Stringybark Creek, near which the police party afterwards pitched their tent.
Later, on a Friday afternoon, Ned Kelly, while reconnoitring, heard a report of a shotgun, which Constable Mclntyre discharged at some kangaroos, came across the tracks of the police horses on their way to this hut, and on the following morning he discovered the tracks of horses going in another direction. He reported each of these discoveries to his brother Dan and their companions. The mining party ceased work, and considered the situation. The Kellys had only two firearms - a rifle and a shotgun.
Dan was deputed to find out exactly where the police were camped. After a careful reconnaissance he returned and reported that the police were at the shingled hut on Stringybark Creek, and that their tent was pitched in, the open space nearby. He mentioned also that the police had long guns -- a disquieting piece of news. On Saturday the Kellys observed that some of the police had gone out riding, and decided that their only hope of retaining their liberty would be to capture the party of police remaining at the camp before the return of their comrades.
Shortly after noon they heard the report of a shotgun, which Constable Mclntyre had discharged at some parrots. There was now no time to wait. After hasty preparation, they stealthily approach the police camp, which was about a mile distant, and, coming to the edge of the cleared patch on which the police had pitched their tent; they took observations. They decided to demand the surrender of the police at the tent and take their guns. If this plan succeeded the Kellys were fairly confident of success in ensuring the surrender and disarming the other party of police on their return to camp.
The Kellys saw two men sitting on a log near the camp fire. One of them (McIntyre) got up and took up a shotgun: the other (Lonigan) drove the horses down a little distance and put the hobbies on them. They then returned to the fire and stood the gun against a stump. The one who had shotgun stood by the fire and the other man sat on a log. The Kellys thought there were other men asleep in the tent. Ned took Constable Lonigan to be Constable Strahan, who had been described by Captain Standish as "a blathering fellow," and who had said that he would not ask him (Ned) to stand before firing on him – that he would fire first, and then call surrender. Mclntyre he mistook for Constable Flood, against whom the Kellys had very bitter feelings. After a hasty consultation with his companions, Ned advanced, while Dan kept Mclntyre covered. Suddenly Ned Kelly cried out, "Bail up! Throw up your arms." The police were taken completely by surprise. Lonigan drew his revolver and made a run for a bigger log, about six or seven yards away, instead of dropping down behind the log on which he had been sitting. He had reached the log and raised his revolver to take aim when Ned Kelly fired. His gun had been loaded with a charge of swandrops, and Lonigan, jumping up, staggered some little distance from the log, as he cried, "I'm shot!" and fell dead.- That prophecy ! !
McIntyre instinctively threw up his hands. He could do nothing else, as he had left his revolver in the tent, and he could not reach the shotgun, which he had placed against a stump, a little distance away.
Ned Kelly then called out, asking McIntyre who was in the hut. The latter replied, "No one," and Kelly advanced and took possession of Lonigan's and McIntyre's revolvers and the shotgun and shot cartridges, from which he extracted the shot and reloaded with swandrops, in place of small shot. He asked McIntyre where his other companions were, and McIntyre said that they had gone down the creek, and that he did not expect them back that night. McIntyre inquired of Kelly if he was going to shoot him (McIntyre) and his mates when they returned, and Kelly replied that he would shoot no man if he gave up his arms and promised to leave the police force.
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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