Kilmore Free Press at KellyGang 1/7/1880 (2)

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When the first volley was fired at a quarter past 3 o'clock, Ned Kelly called to the police to fire away, and his companions followed his example, but after the first round it was noticed that Ned Kelly disappeared rather quickly, and after a few minutes a dead silence, only broken by the wailing and moaning of the women and children. Several woman and children left the hotel, and ran away down to the railway fence, where they were challenged, and being found correct, allowed to pass. Shortly before 6 o'clock senior constable Kelly returned to the station for ammunition, bringing with him Ned Kelly's soft skull cap and six barrel revolving rifle, which he found covered with blood, some 200 yards beyond the hotel. Byrne was hit through the groin by a stray bullet as he was helping himself to a glass of brandy at the bar, the ball having passed through the side of the house, which was weatherboard, with lath and plaster inside, before it embedded itself fatally in his flesh.

Ned Kelly was going out to the back court at the time, and as he returned, he saw his friend reel and fall heavily on the floor. Those in the hotel had as much as they could do to look after themselves, and no time to spare to relieve or succour the wounded highwayman, and he lay there, weltering in his fast flowing blood, amidst the   screeches of the women and the heartrending pleadings of the slightly wounded and greatly frightened children. There were at this time between thirty and forty persons in the hotel, but the women, and nearly all the children fled out and reduced the number to some twenty odd. Our valour was considerably increased about the break of dawn by the return of one of the engines from Benalla — for even an unsympathising engine was welcome — now with Dr Nicholson, and at the same time a party of eight troopers, under Sergeant Steel arrived from Wangaratta, having ridden back with the constable who had ridden off for Glenrowan on the arrival of our train.

Sergeant Steel and Senior Constable Kelly at once made a tour of inspection to the several points, and on discovering three or four horses in the rude stock yard at the back of the hotel, they shot them to prevent the gang escaping. Between 6 and 7 o'clock a large body of police arrived from Benalla, having been collected from around that district, under Inspector Sadlier, who took command of the siege, and set to work by doubling the posts, and keeping a heavy fire at intervals of ten minutes on the hotel, which was now without the question of a doubt, completely surrounded. It was a matter of impossibility for anyone to put his nose outside either the front or back door without endangering its entirety. Notwithstanding this fact, occasional shots came from an old barn which stood in the stock-yard, about ten yards behind the house, and also from the lean-to or kitchen.

One of these random shots grazed the head of one of Lieutenant Connor's trackers and incensed him to such an extent that he vowed vengeance to the barn, and could be restrained with difficulty from visiting the place straight away, and inflicting condign punishment upon the audacious offender. Another of these ill-directed shots, fired at some of our men lying in the drain between the station and the railway gates penetrated M'Donald's railway hotel, just under the parlor window, and carried away a portion of the ornamental mantel piece. The most astounding and incomprehensible scene of the day was now enacted. A few minutes before 8 o'clock a panic appeared to have effected the scouts who occupied positions in the scrub on the Wangaratta side of the hotel, and there was something extraordinary going on a little further up the hill. Scout after scout fired at some object invisible to me, and the majority of those in the field, and then returned to another shelter, a proceeding that at once attracted considerable attention.

After dodging about for a while, the object of the alarm stood out in the open wearing a long white oilskin overcoat, and having his head covered in a thick steel helmet made from ploughshares stolen from the Greta farmers, which discovered no opening but a narrow line across the eyes through which to see it was Ned Kelly, in the armour in which he was reported to have clad himself, and he made no secret about his intention of walking down upon the scouts and killing them if they stood their ground. He was moving steadily down towards the Railway Station, through the thicket, with Sergeant Steel on his right and Senior Constable Kelly on his left; but not with-standing their steady fire he never winced, but walked steadily on, like someone in a trance, pointing and firing a six barrel revolver, which he carried, as he saw the scouts dodge from tree to tree but his fire never took effect.


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