The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 5 page 5
Story of the KellyGang - the Sup Hare's book
The Last of the Bushrangers.
The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare
An Opportunity Missed
The next thing heard of them was their going through Wangaratta about daylight, crossing the bridge through the town, the whole country being flooded to such an extent that they were compelled to come through the town. Four men were seen crossing under a culvert on the railway, and it was known that no one but persons who had resided in Wangaratta could have known how to cross the creek in the swollen state it was in, as there was great risk in doing so. Information was given to the police at Wangaratta, but they doubted the truth of the report. After a day or two convincing proof was given that the four men seen passing under the railway were the bushrangers. An effort was then made to follow their tracks. This could be done by the men in full gallop, as the country was so boggy the tracks were plainly visible. The police tracked the foot-prints of the outlaws' horses to a well known sympathizer's house, where it was afterwards ascertained the outlaws had breakfasted. Then the tracks were followed up still further into the Warby Ranges, and the police found liennedy's horse, which the outlaws had abandoned. The animal was knocked up and its feet were bleeding from travelling over stones without shoes.
This I consider the best opportunity thrown away of capturing the offenders throughout the whole of the search. But unfortunately there was an officer at that time stationed at Wangaratta who was from physical and other disqualifications quite unfit to be sent on duty of this kind. Instead of following up the tracks when he found the lame and bleeding horse with signs of having recently been ridden, he threw up the search and made all his men return back to Wangaratta to show he had found the horse. It was afterwards discovered that the outlaws at this time were completely done up; their horses had been some days without feed, and they themselves were wet and tired out. There would have been no difficulty in capturing them. Unfortunately the inspecting superintendent was engaged in some other part of the district, and so also was the officer in charge of the district. The outlaws had got back to near where their relations lived. They had the Kellys' house on one side of them, and the Harts' on the other, and they could go to their own blood relations for any food and help they required.
A Difficult Task
Search parties were kept up all over the district, men sleeping out, or I should say staying out without fire or shelter; badly fed horses knocked up, reports coming in from eyery direction hundreds of miles off, that the Kellys had been seen here, there, and everywhere. Many of these reports were circulated for the purpose of deceiving the police. The inspecting superintendent had had a great deal of experience tin the detective force, and was able to otain information from persons that no one else would think of getting it from. He set to work to endeavour to organize men of this class and get information as to the whereabouts of the outlaws, but there was the greatest difficulty in doing this. The murders committed by the outlaws had created such a scare in the district, that any person who did know anything of their movements was afraid to say anything about it; besides which, they had such a crowd of relations in the district, that it was impossible to find a person who was not in some way or other interested or connected with the gang. No one but the police themselves knew the hardships they went through all that winter whilst searching for the outlaws. They did it most cheerfully, one and all. Their whole aim and object was to fall in with the Kellys. The officers had a most trying time. They had to decide between false and deceiving reports, and those that were true. They were constantly on the move themselves, meeting persons in the bush quite alone, and obtaining information concerning the outlaws, some purposely misleading with a view of favouring the outlaws and getting payment for their services.
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