The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 13 page 6
The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare
At twenty minutes to eleven a.m., it was officially intimated that the civilians had been liberated from the hotel; that Byrne had been shot; and that Dan Kelly and Hart maintained possession, and ware firing in reply to the incessant firing by the police. As there appeared to be every likelihood that, if the fight was continued, some of the police might be seriously injured, the Chief Secretary instructed Captain Standish, if possible, to blow the house up, but before doing so to see that none but members of the gang were in it. Colonel Anderson was summoned to a consultation with a view to steps being taken to effect that object, and the result was that at twenty minutes past two p.m. a third special, conveying that officer and a detachment of artillery, with a 12-pounder field-piece, left for Glenrowan, but as the termination of the conflict before the arrival of the train at Benalla rendered it unnecessary that it should proceed further, it was detained at that place. The Chief Secretary also advised by telegram that a wooden bullet proof shield should be constructed to be fitted on a dray or wagon, under cover of which the attacking party might approach the house and effect its ruin, always assuming that the gang were the sole occupants. It was also feared by Mr Ramsay that the fight would not be concluded before nightfall, and that if that was so, the outlaws might escape in the dark. He therefore consulted with Mr Ellery, the Government astronomer, and asked his advice as to the practicability of sending up an electric light apparatus, but that gentleman expressed the opinion that it would be of little utility adopting such a course, as it would take quite twenty-four hours after the apparatus arrived on the ground to get it fairly at work. To carry out the same idea, however, Mr Ramsay telegraphed suggesting that large bonfires should be burnt round the house so as to give the required light and prevent the bushrangers escaping. But all these precautions were not required to be put in practice, as before sundown the final scene in the tragedy had been enacted.
His Excellency the Governor telegraphed about noon to Superintendent Hare, congratulating him on the bravery displayed by himself and his men, and encouraging them in the struggle in which they were engaged. The Chief Secretary, on behalf of the Government, also telegraphed to Mr Hare to the same effect; and at twenty minutes past one p.m., Sir Henry Parkes, Premier of the Government of New South Wales, telegraphed to the Victorian Government, expressing the great satisfaction which was experienced in Sydney at the prospect of a speedy destruction of the gang, and congratulating the Government.
The change which had been lately made in the control of the police in the Kelly district gave rise at the time it was decided upon to some comment. Mr Ramsay states that on assuming office he made the determination that, if possible, the Kellys should be discovered without delay. He accordingly summoned Assistant Commissioner Nicholson, who was in charge of the police in the district, and told him of the dissatisfaction which was experienced at the absence of results from the presence of the force there. He reminded him that he had been there for ten months, but that nothing had been done, and said that unless within a reasonable time something definite was effected or ascertained, an alteration of the arrangements would be made. Mr Nicholson requested to be allowed a month longer, but he eventually returned to his position as Assistant Commissioner at Melbourne .
Mr Hare, who had been engaged in the capture of Power, the notorious bushranger, was spoken to as to his filling the vacancy. In Mr Ramsay's opinion he had been very badly treated, in as much as he had not received any recognition of the services he had rendered to the colony on that occasion. He had had his salary increased by £100 a year at the time that Superintendent Winch's was also added to, but under the regime of the late Government his salary had been reduced by Parliament, whilst Mr Winch's was continued. He was regarded as being specially qualified for the duty which he was required to perform, and he was instructed to choose the best men and officers in the force with whom to act. He was further assured that he would be untrammelled by any official rules and regulations.
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