The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (24)
A DECLARATION OF WAR
The report of the rencounter in the Wombat Ranges and the deaths of valuable members of the police force soon travelled throughout Australia , and created considerable sensation. It caused the immediate passing by the Berry Government of an Outlawry Act, under which it became lawful for any individual to shoot and destroy the four bushrangers. This Act also provided penalties for any person who harboured the outlaws or withheld information concerning them from the authorities. This was a declaration of war.
Having now been definitely made outlaws, the Kellys arranged a programme, the first item on which was to be a "hold up" of the National Bank at Euroa. Mounted on four splendid horses, they set forth, and arrived en route at Younghusband’s Faithful Creek station, some four miles from Euroa. The manager, MrMcCauley, was not present on their arrival, but they made themselves known to housekeeper, Mrs. Fitzgerald, to whom they gave assurances of safety for herself and any others who allowed them to proceed unmolested. They then commenced to intern all the station hands in the storeroom repeating their assurances, and Byrne was posted as a "prisoners guard." Addressing their captives, Ned Kelly informed them if any on attempted to escape, Steve Hart and Dan will shoot you down like rabbits." This intimidating threat was an unfortunate one, as later events showed. Actually neither Dan Kelly nor Steve Hart was of "bloodthirsty" disposition, and there is no record to substantiate these words of their leader, but these words were seized upon by the police and, on their subsequent publication, created an impression in the public mind which was untrue, unfair and unjust.
During the afternoon, a local farmer, who had been to Euroa for men to bind his crop, was passing the homestead. He was stopped and introduced to Ned Kelly by Mr Fitzgerald. Ned Kelly explained to the farmer that he would have to join the other prisoners. "Oh, don't mind, but my boy, a lad of 14 years, and Paddy Burke are down at the hut, and they'll be expecting me home." "We'll soon settle that," said Ned Kelly, "we'll go and bring them up here where they'll be safe." "Very good", replied the farmer, and he went away with Ned Kelly and Steve Hart to the hut, which was but a short distance away. They found Paddy Burke the hut, but the boy was away. Burke said he thought the boy had gone down to the creek for a swim. They all went to the creek, where they found the lad, and his father told him to accompany them up to the station. The lad eyed the two strangers, Ned Kelly and Steve Hart, whom he believed to be the two men his father had brought from Euroa to assist in binding the crop. He did not like the look of these two for "binders." That boy, today a man in the sere and yellow leaf, says he enjoyed the novelty of the whole affair. No one was afraid, but all were under some restraint excepting the womenfolk, who were allowed the free range of the premises.
Late in the afternoon Mr McCauley returned, and was formally introduced by the station foreman, Mr Fitzgerald, to Ned Kelly and his associates. He, too, was placed under surveillance, although he was allowed more freedom about the house than the other captives.
Later still, a hawker named Gloster and his assistant, Beecroft, came on the scene. The former was ordered to join the party in the store. He refused, and made a run for his waggon, in which he had left his revolver. The Kellys did not want a disturbance; it would interfere with their plans regarding the Euroa Bank. Ned Kelly followed the hawker and caught him as he was climbing into his waggon for his revolver, and dragged him down. He and his assistant, Beecroft, a youth of about 18 years, were immediately compelled to join the prisoners in the storeroom.
The Kellys selected new suits from the hawker's stock, as they desired to he very respectably dressed when they set out for the bank of Euroa. They offered Gloster money for these outfits, but he refused to take it.
Ned Kelly conversed freely with the prisoners, and related incident of cruelty and persecution his family had been subjected to by the police, and he seems to have convinced the majority that he and his brother had been goaded to take to the bush in order to prevent the extinction of their family. After sunset the prisoners were allowed out for a spell in the fresh air, prior to retiring for the night. The outlaws took it in turns to keep watch over the prisoners, and against any attempt to poison them - there was a reward of £4000 on their heads - and carefully avoided tasting any food until some of their prisoners had first partaken of it.
During an allusion to their fight with the police on the Wombat Ranges , Ned Kelly emphasised the fact that they had met the polio in a fight for life. The police had sought them to take them back to Mansfield dead or alive. They had killed three of the four policemen in a fair fight. The one who had surrendered and was disarmed, they permitted to escape.
Next morning, Dec. 10, 1878, the Kellys were about early. The, temporarily released the captives from the storeroom, and all hands had breakfast together, except the outlaws, who observed their usual caution and went to breakfast two at a time. After breakfast a party of sportsmen approached the station in a spring cart driven by a local resident named Casement. The sportsmen were Messrs. Dudley Mr Tennant, another member of the party, was on horseback. Seeing them approach, Ned Kelly mounted his horse and rode to meet them, and told them to turn back, as the station was “held up.” As the party descended from the cart, Ned Kelly accused Casement of being "Ned Kelly," and of having stolen the horse and spring cart. This evoked an outburst of indignation from Mr Casement and his companions. Mr Casement believed Ned to be a constable, and Mr Dudley asked on what authority they were thus accused. "We have not stolen the cart, we are all honest men. I’ll report you to your officer"! In giving evidence at Beechworth in 1880, Mr Dudley said that Tennant, who was a Scotchman, came up on horseback and asked: "What is the matter, Harry?" Dudley replied, “Kellys are about." Tennant said, "Aye, mon, get up and load your guns." When Kelly showed the handcuffs, however, his visitors, although wrathful, submitted and were put into the storeroom, Mr Dudley, before internment, again loudly announcing that he would report Ned Kelly to his superior officer for his conduct as an officious constable. When they reached the storeroom Ned Kelly said to Stevens, the groom, "Tell the gentlemen who I am." Stevens thereupon introduced "Mr Ned Kelly and his party."
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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