The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (21)
THE SEARCH FOR THE BODIES
There was great excitement in the peaceful town of Mansfield when the news of the tragedy was made public. A search party was organised, and Inspector Pewtress, Constables Allwood and McIntyre, Dr Reynolds, and five civilians started off late on Sunday afternoon to recover the bodies of the brave police officers. The party called at Monk's sawmills, and there secured a reliable guide, who led them through dense scrub and thick undergrowth to the scene of the tragedy. There they arrived about midnight , and had no difficulty in finding the bodies of Lonigan and Scanlan. Rain fell in torrents, and the search for the body of Kennedy was delayed until the following day. It was expected that, in accordance with, the report of McIntyre, the body would be found quite close to the spot where that of Scanlan lay.
After searching for some time on Monday is was evident that the morale of the party was becoming seriously affected. It was feared apparently that the Kellys would return and annihilate the whole search. party. Finally, it was decided to tie the bodies of Lonigan and Scanlan together and "pack" them on horseback through the dense scrub and timber to Monk's sawmill. There a buggy was obtained, in which the bodies were taken to Mansfield and placed in the mortuary room of the Mansfield Hospital , where the subsequent inquest was held.
Two members of the Wright were in Mansfield when the bodies of Lonigan and Scanlan were brought in. The local police authorities showed signs of nervous strain, and they arrested "Wild" Wright on a charge of using threatening language. They also arrested
his totally deaf and dumb brother, "Dummy" Wright, on the same charge. This was considered the limit of police hysteria. The charge, of course, could not be sustained, and "Dummy" was discharged and the police ridiculed.
Police now began to filter into Mansfield from the surrounding districts. Another attempt was made to discover Kennedy's body. A party was organised and arrived on the scene of the tragedy on Tuesday afternoon. A search was made until evening, but no inducement could persuade the members of the search party to remain there until the following morning.
The fear that the Kellys might attack them was so demoralising that the volunteer searchers, when night fell, went back to Mansfield .
It was now thought that Kennedy had been taken away alive by the Kellys, and Superintendent Sadleir, who arrived from police headquarters at Benalla, interviewed "Wild" Wright, in the Mansfield gaol, and offered him £30 if he would find Kennedy, alive or dead. A special proviso was put into the "conditions" with regard to the protection of Kennedy from injury or death should Wright discover him alive. It was arranged that Wright should go at once to Greta and interview Mrs Skillion, from whom Wright asserted he would obtain, the full facts. While these arrangements were being made a larger search party was organised and set out on Wednesday for the scene of the conflict.
The searchers hitherto had been misled by McIntyre's statement that Kennedy had surrendered before he (McIntyre) snatched the bridle reins and galloped away on Kennedy's horse.
The search commenced on Wednesday, and on Thursday morning the search party widened out consistently, and at 8 o'clock a farmer named Tomkins, crossing the Stringybark Creek, came across Kennedy' body a quarter of a mile from where McIntyre had sworn he had surrendered.
The wounds on his right breast and armpit were recognisable, an( the last and fatal wound was clearly seen on his left breast. The clothing was blackened by powder, showing that the shot had been fired, as Ned Kelly subsequently stated, at very close range.
The police and press, thinking the Kellys shot Sergeant Kennedy, and Constables Lonigan and Scanlan with single bullets, jumped to the conclusion that the several wounds, caused by each charge of swandrops, had been inflicted after death.
These assertions of police and press were not, however, supported by the evidence of Dr Reynolds, of Mansfield , who made the post-mortem examination of the bodies of Scanian, Lonigan and Kennedy
Kennedy's body was brought to Mansfield . By this time the confidence of many of the search party was shaken in McIntyre's evidence as to whether Kennedy had surrendered. The searchers' view to a great extent coincided with the statement delivered for publication by Ned Kelly at Jerilderie to one of the prisoners in the hotel when the bank was robbed by the Kellys in February, 1879. Dr Reynolds, who examined Kennedy's body, said that an ear was missing. From appearances he concluded that it had been gnawed off by native cats
Before despatching the first search party to Wombat Ranges , Inspector Pewtress wrote his comments on McIntyre's somewhat rambling report. and despatched Constable Thomas Meehan to deliver this to Superintendent Sadleir at Benalla.
Meehan left Mansfield unarmed, but in uniform, at 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 27, 1878 , and was instructed to get a change of horses at Dawes station, half way between Mansfield and Benalla. 'Re distance from Mansfield to Benalla by the main coach road is forty miles. The following is Constable Meehans evidence on oath:
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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