The True Story of the KellyGang of Bushrangers Chapter 7 page 4

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Here it may be remarked as a somewhat strange circumstance that though Byrne was evidently at this time known as a member of the gang, even his mother apparently admitting it, the sentence of outlawry was not passed against him for refusal to surrender at Mansfield on November 12, but against ‘a man whose name is unknown,’ of whom an elaborate description was given. The same method of address was also used to the fourth member of the gang, who afterwards proved to be Steve Hart, and, though definite knowledge of his identity was not obtained till a later period, even then those best qualified to judge had very little doubt about it. Two or three days previously Sergeant Steele, then under orders to proceed to Beechworth, had declared that the track taken under the One Mile Creek Railway Bridge near Wangaratta could only had been ventured upon, in the dangerously swollen state of the creek, by men who knew the banks well and who were fleeing for their lives, and he had named Steve Hart as almost certainly the daring guide who had led them.

At about eight o’clock, after having something to eat, the police party returned to Beechworth, sadly crestfallen and somewhat wearied by their night and morning under arms. The expedition had brought nothing but ridicule on the authorities, and from the outset was doomed to failure. Undoubtedly the Kellys had been in the neighbourhood a day or two before, but it was scarcely likely that they would allow themselves to be ridden down by a cavalry squadron, even had they not departed; and as a matter of fact, at the time of the expedition, sarcastically dubbed the ‘Charge of Sebastopol’ - Sebastopol being the name of a locality close by - the Kellys were already securely in hiding in their familiar haunts of the Warby Ranges . Their security in this instance seems to have been owing less to their own activity than to the inactivity of Inspector Brooke Smith, which was of a most extraordinary kind. It will be remembered that to him, as officer in charge at Wangaratta, Sergeant Steele had trusted for the immediate pursuit of the men seen passing beneath the bridge. Constable Twomey, the man who conveyed the information to Steele, obtained it from a Mrs Delaney, who stated that at four o’clock on the Sunday morning she heard horses galloping and chains rattling, coming towards her house. She had horses running on the flat near by, and thought ‘someone wanted to plant them.’ ‘I got up to the window,’ she said, ‘to see who they were, and saw four young men riding four horses. Two horses with two packs were in front, and four others running ahead of the men bareback.’ The horses seemed exhausted, and the riders were forcing them forward as best they could, being evidently anxious to get away from the vicinity of the town before daylight. They were going in the direction of the Warby Ranges , and Mrs Delaney’s son heard the noise of galloping over the wooden bridge which is the shortest way thither.

The police reported these things to Inspector Brooke Smith on November 4. They also told him, as further argument, that the men must be the Kellys; that no other persons would risk their lives by crossing the railway beneath a bridge under a dangerously swollen creek, when a railway crossing quite near was available for anyone not supremely anxious to avoid recognition.

In the face of these facts, Mr Smith remained idle until the 6th of the month. Then he set out for the ranges with a party from Wangaratta. It came upon the outlaws’ tracks, recovered Kennedy’s pack horse, which they had abandoned, and then, by his orders, returned to Wangaratta. A fresh start was to be made at 4 am next morning, but after waiting for their officer till seven the men were compelled to set out without him. He followed, and catching them up, caused unnecessary delay by insisting on making detours to follow tracks; and, in short, seems to have justified the finding of the Police Commission, ‘that he was determined that his party should not overtake the outlaws,’ and that ‘what renders his action all the more reprehensible is the fact that upon no other occasion throughout the pursuit, from the murders at the Wombat to the final affray at Glenrowan, was there presented a more favourable prospect of capturing the gang.’

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This document gives you the text of the report about the KellyGang for this day. The text has been retyped from a copy of the original. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors. This document is subject to copyright.

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