The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 5 page 3

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Story of the KellyGang - the Sup Hare's book

The Last of the Bushrangers.

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The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare

(full text transcription)

The Camp Surprised

The following morning Kennedy and Scanlan got their horses and started off to search the ranges, leaving M'Intyre and Lonergan in the camp; the former was acting as cook for the day. The camp consisted of a tent, which the men slept in. About two o'clock that day the two men left in camp were suddenly called on to "bail up and throw up their hands" by four armed men, who were presenting rifles at them. M'Intyre, being unarmed, immediately obeyed and threw up his hands, his revolver being inside the tent. Lonergan, instead of following the example, ran to get behind the shelter of a tree, at the same time drawing his revolver out of the case, but before he got to the tree he was shot in the forehead, and dropped down dead. The armed men were found to be Ned and Dan Kelly, Joe Byrne, and Steve Hart; they at once took possession of Lonergan's arms and all the other arms lying about the camp. M'Intyre was made to sit on a log, and he had a good opportunity of seeing the faces of the four men. Either Ned or Dan Kelly shot Lonergan, and M'Intyre states that Byrne and Hart were dreadfully cut up at the turn things had taken, especially Byrne, who was nervous and downcast.

The bushrangers were evidently aware that Kennedy and Scanlan were away, and would shortly be returning. They arranged that M'Intyre would sit in some conspicuous place where he could be seen by his comrades, and they themselves laid down in some sheltered spot where they could not be seen, and they advised M'Intyre to induce Kennedy and Scanlan to surrender, saying that if, they consented they would not be shot. M'Intyre told Kelly that he would induct his comrades to surrender, if he promised to keep his word.

Murder of Kennedy

Kennedy and Scanlan rode into the camp. M'Intyre went forward and said, "Sergeant, I think you had better dismount and surrender, as we have been captured." Kelly at the same time called out, "Put up your hands." They both appear to have grasped the situation in a moment, for Scanlan threw himself from his horse to get behind a tree, but was shot before he reached the ground. Kennedy jumped from his horse, and getting the animal between him and the bushrangers, opened fire upon them. The horse bolted and passed close by M'Intyre, who vaulted on it and galloped off, throwing himself on the horse's neck. Several shots were fired, but, fortunately, none hit him, and he rode off as hard as he could. Kennedy was left then to fight these four scoundrels.

What happened no one knows, beyond what Ned Kelly stated himself. He said that, Kennedy was a brave man, and fought the four of them until he had fired all the shots in his revolver. His body was afterwards found a quarter of a mile from where M'Intyre last saw him, with several bullet wounds and fearfully mutilated. Ned Kelly said that after Kennedy was wounded and fell, they all ran up to him, and Kennedy begged them to spare his life for the sake of his wife and children, but the inhuman brute said that he did not like to leave him in the bush in such a state, and so out of compassion he blew his brains out. An inquest was held on the bodies of the murdered men. Lonergan had received seven bullet wounds, one of them through the eye ball. Scanlan's body had four shot marks on it, the fatal bullet had gone through his lungs. Kennedy's body was fearfully mutilated, he had three bullets through his head, and several in his body. Aaron Sherritt afterwards gave me another version of this matter. He said Ned Kelly told him that he made both Joe Byrne and Steve Hart fire into Kennedy whilst he was lying wounded, as neither of them had shot either Scanlan or Lonergan, and he made them kill Kennedy so as to prevent their turning informers against him and his brother. In support of this theory, it may be noted, that when Kennedy's body was found, it was apparent that the bullets which put an end to his life must have been-fired by men standing close over him, as the skin was burnt by the powder.

M’Intyre’s Escape

M'Intyre after his escape rode off as fast as the nature of the country would permit, until his horse fell and threw him across a log, on his loins, and then bolted off. M'Intyre felt sure he was being followed by one of the gang, and no doubt they did endeavour to overtake him, but the country was so dense with scrub that they were unable to follow on his tracks. After being thrown from his horse, he ran as far as he could, until through exhaustion he fell down, and close by he found a wombat hole, into which he crept, hoping to evade his pursuers. Whilst he was in this hole in the earth, he tore a sheet out of his pocket book and wrote as concise at account as he could, thinking if the Kellys did overtake him, he would leave the slip of paper in the hole, in the hope that it might be found some day. Fortunately darkness came on, and M'Intyre got out of the hole and travelled all night on foot. Towards morning he found himself near Mr. To1mie's station, between Mansfield and Benalla. At first he was rejoiced at seeing some habitation, but to his horror he fancied he saw the police horses which had been ridden by Kennedy's party feeding near the house, and he thought the bushrangers had come down and taken possession of the place. Acting on this idea, he made off as fast as he could. He found his way into Mansfield some time during the afternoon.

I afterwards spoke to M'Intyre concerning these horses, and he told me he felt perfectly convinced in his own mind that he saw the horse he had been riding, together with the three others, but it turned out that they were only the station horses. M'Intyre was much blamed for the way he had acted in the affair, but my own idea is, that unless he had been a brave man, he could not have seized the opportunity in the way he did in vaulting on Kennedy’s horse as it passed him. He was of no use to Kennedy, he had no arms in his possession, and the fact of his bolting off as he did, gave Kennedy a better opportunity of shooting one or two of the bushrangers if they attempted to pursue him. He had seen his two companions shot dead and the third fired at; clearly his best course was to escape and give the alarm. There can be no question that if M'Intyre had also been shot (which he would have been, had he not escaped), the world would never have known the fate of the four men. The bush near the spot where the tragedy took place is so dense that, if the bodies had been burned and the ashes covered up, no sign of the bodies could have been discovered.

To show how difficult it was to find anything in the locality, it may be mentioned that poor Kennedy's body, although only a quarter of a mile away from the others, was not found for two or three days, although dozens of people were searching. When found, it was covered with a coat, although Lonergan's and Scanlan's bodies were lying in the camp uncovered. Afterwards I asked Sherritt the cause of Kennedy's body being covered, and he said Ned Kelly told him he was the bravest man he had ever heard of, and out of respect he went all the way to the camp, got a cloak, and threw it over the body, and I have not the least doubt that was the case.

M'Intyre having given the alarm at Mansfield, a party of police were sent out at once to the Wombat, and after much difficulty they reached the spot described by M'Intyre, and found the two bodies, and some days afterwards the remains of Kennedy were found as stated. The bodies had to be tied on horseback to be brought out of the forest, and they were buried at Mansfield, where a monument has been erected to the memory of the murdered men. Kennedy was a great favourite with every one. He left a wife and children at Mansfield. The Government behaved liberally, allowing the widow to draw her husband's full pay to support herself and children ever since.

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