The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 14 page 1
The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare
It was noticed by the constables who surrounded the hotel that a number of horses, saddled and bridled, were ready to be used by the outlaws; some of them were horses recently reported as stolen, and others were those which we had frequently seen ridden by Kelly's sisters. The Constables shot some of them so as to prevent the escape of the outlaws. The prisoners were allowed out soon after daylight, and when the last of them came away, only Steve Hart and Dan Kelly were alive in the hotel. The police say Hart and Dan Kelly kept firing out of the windows up to one or two o'clock in the day, but having the armour on they were unable to take accurate aim. I have no hesitation in saying that had they been without armour when we first attacked them at the hotel, and could have taken proper aim at us, not one of us could have escaped being shot. They were obliged to hold the rifle at arm's length to get anything of a sight. When I was hit I had my arm under my gun and was running towards them; they were on my right front, the butt of my gun was under my elbow with the left hand under the barrels, ready to be used in a moment. Had it been an inch higher or lower it would have missed me.
The outlaws had provided themselves with another set of horses on the opposite side of the railway, so that had they been obliged to cross the line in a hurry, they would have been able to mount their horses and get off in a moment. The plan they arranged was as follows:—
Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly went to Woolshed shoot Aaron Sherritt Saturday night, whilst Ned and Steve Hart were to go to Glenrowan and pull up the rails. They knew it was our habit, whenever they showed themselves in any part of the district, immediately to get a special train and go to the spot and start on their tracks. They knew, therefore, directly the news reached Benalla that Sherritt was shot, I should start off with a party of police and black trackers to pick up their trail. No trains ran on that line on Sundays and therefore, the only one likely to come along would be a "special," with a party of police. There was no telegraph station at Glenrowan, and the special would not stop there. They thought that the train would get up great speed going down the incline after passing Glenrowan, and it would be smashed up and most of the party killed. They were then to jump on to their horses and go to the spot, and finish off those who had escaped.
Plan of the Gang
The line was taken up about half a mile from Glenrowan. They would then have started off to Benalla, robbed all the banks, and probably secured £4000 or £5000. If they had worn their armour with overcoats they might have been shot at fifty times without being injured. They had arranged to have placed one of their number on the bridge in Benalla, so as to prevent any person giving information concerning them. The police were all on the opposite side of the river, and it was their intention to blow up the railway bridge at Benalla, so as to stop the traffic on the line. I believe they had a keg of gunpowder and fuse ready for the purpose at Glenrowan.
This was what Mrs. Byrne alluded to when she said they were about "to do something that would astonish not only all the colonies, but the whole world." Had they succeeded in wrecking our train that morning, there would have been fearful carnage afterwards. There is no question of doubt that at Gilenrowan they had parties of scouts, both in the hotel and outside of it; most of them, no doubt, were their own relations, and their name was legion. The Kellys were very short of cash when they stuck up Glenrowan. Their sisters were in debt everywhere, and they were compelled to make a raid in order to get money.
About a fortnight before they were captured, I was speaking to the owner of a hotel not far from Glenrowan. He told me the outlaws were in debt to him to the amount of £26. I asked him how he ever expected to be paid. He replied—"Oh, they will get another bank some of these days." I said to him, "I suppose you will be very sorry when they are captured ?" 'No' he said, "I won't I am getting tired of them. They give us a lot of trouble—destroy our fences and injure our property, and we dare not say a word about it. If we did we would only get the worst of it "
Notwithstanding all Kelly's boasted pluck-and bounce, how game he would die, &c., he was the only one who in any way showed the white feather. When the constables ran up to him after Steele had hold of him, he begged for mercy, and asked them to spare his life. There is no doubt that, had he been able to work he would have gone off, leaving his comrades behind him in the hotel. It was always said that Dan Kelly was the most blood thirsty wretch of the whole gang, and that Ned had the greatest difficulty in restraining him from shooting every person he came across.
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