The Ovens and Murray Advertiser 13/2/1879
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THE KELLY RAID
The news received during the past days, full particulars of which appear in our colums, is of a most startling character, and at any rate proves two things – that the Kelly gang have crossed the border; stuck up the town ship of Jerilderie: robbed the bank, and seem to regard themselves as perfectly secure; and that the Victorian police are utterly incapable to cope with them. After the murder at Stringl Bark Creek, when the four ruffians, who committed a brutal and most unnatural murder, were outlawed, and a reward of £2500 offered for their capture, dead or alive, it was naturally thought they would speedily be captured, and the law avenged; but although nearly four month have elapsed, the flower of the Victorian police have been engaged in endeavouring to abtain their capture, they have not only defied all attempts to catch them, but have succeeded in such cesfully carrying out two of the most daring outrages ever recorded in the history of civilization. The story of the sticking up of the Bank of Euroa is still fresh in the minds of all, and now we have recorded a raid, if possible with daring and carried out with coolness, and a skill which spite of its enormity must command both wonderment and audacity.
The story told staggers us and were .. facts are narrated by Mr J W Tarleton the manager of the Bank of New South Wales at Jerilderie, and the teller Mr Living written in a .. would be regarded as fiction and would be disbelieved. The Kellys have .. proved that truth is stranger than fiction, and their exploits read more like some Eastern romance than a plain narration of what has happened in Australia in the nineteenth century. Since the Euroa outrages the police have supposedly been on the alert,and have used all the resources at their command to capture men, who have been guilty of robbery and murder, and who have set the law at defiance. Nearly 300 tried, trained men, with the Government at their back, have been engaged in the search; and it is a remarkable fact that not one of them has ever seen the outlaws, and that they really never had any definite idea as to their whereabouts.
So complete has been the organisation of the murderers and their friends, so extensive the practical sympathy shown towards them, that the authorities have been thoroughly blinded as to their movements, and an immense amount both of time and money has been expended in wild-goose chases, which, as a matter of course, have resulted in failure. Here we have the whole police force of Victoria, which we had fondly regarded as one of the most efficient and best organised in the world, completely baffled, and defied by four youths, who exercised a terrorism which exceeds even that of the bandits of Italy, and the feebooters of Spain, in the days when there were no telegraphs, and when a semi-civilization existed. From information received, the police have scoured the whole of the North eastern district of Victoria, and yet have never met with the men they were in pursuit of; whilst Ned Kelly and his associates were quietly resting on their oars, living in ease until occasion demanded that in order to protect themselves from betrayal, another robbery miust be committed and more money raised.
All sorts of rumours have been affected since the affair at Euroa. Some, and we think rightly, held to the opinion that the Kellys had not left their old haunts, but that, secure in their inaccessibility and theie own intimate knowing of the country, and in the faithfulness and in the faithfuness of their many friends and sympathisers they langered in hiding where they were sure of support, so long as they had money to shut the mouths of those who could inform against them and apprise the police of their whereabouts. Other thought that they had cleared out by the Upper Murray into the Manaro country, or had made their way towards Queensland . We incline to the former view that they have, until recently, remained in hiding about the district they knew so well, awaiting a chance.
No matter whether this view of the case be a correct one or not, certain it is that the news that they robbed the at Jerilderie, a township about sixty miles from the Murray, in New South Wales, fell like a thunder clap upon all. Whilst the police were busily searching for them, either in the Upper Murray, or near Omeo, or amongst the native fastnesses, the gang quietly crossed the Murray, and appeared as they did at Euroa, where they were least expected. About midnight on Saturday the four quietly surprised the two policemen at the barracks at Jerilderie, which, by the way, are situated some little distance from the town. They locked up, and the two Kellys donned their uniforms, and then quietly remained in possession of the premises during the whole of Sunday without making any movement. On Monday, accompanied by one of the constables, they walk into the township, bailed up a number of citizens in the principal hotel of the place, visit the telegraph office, where they compel the postmaster and the operators to disconnect the wires, and force two or three citizens to cut down the poles, and then go to the bank, and without trouble, stick up the manager and his clerks whom they courteously convey to the hotel and literally ask to drink, and they, after appropriating about £2000 in cash, and destroying a number of deeds and securities, ride away with their booty.
The whole affair is a masterpiece of strregical skill, and makes us the more regret that a man with the brains of Ned Kelly should be such a bloodthirsty vilan – a mere preyer upon society – when he might have been a man of note in any society. The deliberate manner in which they set about their task, and the ultimate knowledge they appear to have had to the surroundings, shows that they had become well posted up, and probably one and even more of them had before visited the place, or else every item of information had been supplied them by confederates, for it is well known that the Kellys have relatives in the neighbourhood. According to the testimony of Mr J W Tarleton, a gentleman who for some time held the position of accountant at the Bank of New South Wales, Beechworth, .. .. ward is gospel, the .. .. was carried out in a systematic manner, and there were really no attempts at violence, though occasionally when any resistance was even alluded to, or any demur made, the spirit of the tiger, who has once tasted blood, made itself apparent. There is something deliciously piquant in one portion of Mr Tarleton’s narrative relating to the demeanor of Ned Kelly, evidently is still the master spirit of the band.
It reads thus: - “Ned Kelly shouted freely, and paid for every drink to Mr Cox , the landlord. They asked me to drink when I first was brought in, but I refused. Before going away Ned Kelly delivered an haraugue in the bar, with the evident intention of exciting sympathy. He stated that he had not been within 400 miles of Greta when Constable Fitzpatrick was shot, and that it was only when he returned home that he found that a reward of £100 had been placed on his head. He confessed to having stolen and sold 280 horses many of which had been purchased by Baumgarten , who is now in Pentridge a sentence for the same crime. The only crime that he had ever committed was that of horse-strealing, so he evidently did not include the killing of the three inoffensive troopers in his criminal code. He said,’When I came back and found that there was a reward of £100 on my head, I started out with a --- old crooked musket, in which, if you held it up to your shoulder, you could see the curves.
I shot Lonigan with that – Musket; it could shoot round the corner.’ Endeavouring to appealing to their sympathies, he spoke somewhat as follows: - ‘Supposing you came home and heard that two or three detectives had been to the house and presented revolvers at the heads of your mother and sisters, saying, where is this Ned Kelly? If you don’t tell us where he is we will shoot you. Why, no man could stand such a fright as that much less a woman. Was not that enough to make me turn outlaw and shoot those b—y police? There’s Lonigan’s revolver, displaying a police weapon.’
The whole story reads more a chapter from the Arabian Nights than a plain narration of what actually happened, an’t we know not which the more to wonder at, the daring of the outlaws; the wide spread exrtent of the sympathy for them, or the total collapse of the police, who evidently are nonplussed, and who seem to have lost all heart. Some stress has been laid upon them having been able to cross the Murray, but any one acquainted at all with the river will be able to understand that this would be no difficult matter.
At the present season of the year the river is very low, and between Albury and Wahgunyah there are hundreds of fords where any horseman could cross without wetting himself. The police guard to bridges and the punts, but Ned Kelly and his gang are not likely to cross by these places. The whole matter suggests serious thoughts, and certainly does not tend to elevate in the eyes of the public the majesty of the law.
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