The Argus (31)
The Argus continued with its report of the KellyGang.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ARGUS
Sir, - Now that the Kelly excitement is cooling, some of its features begin to excite comment. People are heard asking such questions as the following:-
Why were the police permitted to fire into a slightly built weatherboard house, which was well known to be crammed with men, women, and little children, killing and wounding indeterminately! Again who was it that permitted the police to burn the building when it was known that an innocent and helpless man lay there and must be destroyed and was in fact only saved by a civilian’s pluck and humanity?
Who allowed these bodies to be carted away before inquest could be held? And why, when the tribe had got the bodies, and got drunk and insolent over them, did the authorities first claim them, and when denied and dared recall their orders and give these desperadoes best?
If it was necessary to hold an inquiry upon Byrne, why was it necessary to have one over Hart and Daniel Kelly? What a fasco it would be to hold one over Edward Kelly when he has been executed, and yet this has been the rule, and is the law.
The police first promote a drunken orgie amongst a set of desperate rogues by improperly giving them the bodies to wake, and when the corpses are needed for the coroner they permit the law to be defied and insulted.
Are there any Kelly sympathisers in the force, or are they simply muddled headed and craven? We shall next hear of the erection of monuments inscribing with expressions of admiration for the careers and sorrow for the fate of these outlaws. The stones will become shrines and be venerated by the neighbourhood, tainting its moral atmosphere by exalting these murders into heroes, in the eyes of the young in particular. Their graves should have been a nameless hole in a gaol yard – out of sight, out of mind.
If we experience further difficulties with these people, let us thank our policemen.
Under all the circumstances it might be wise to utilise our garrison corps by quartering them at Greta for three months to over awe these people and then the authorities should lock up such characters as Wild Wright and his associates whenever their languages or acts give a chance. The crew should be stamped out or dispersed as quickly as possible,- Yours &c
GEO S GRIFFITH
' NED KELLY THE MURDERER OF CHERRY'
Further particulars of an interesting character relating to the tragedy at Glenrowan have transpired. The most startling item is that Cherry, the platelayer, was not accidentally killed, but was deliberately shot by Ned Kelly at the beginning of the fray, because he refused to hold back a window curtain in the hotel while Kelly fired at the police. As to the survivor of the gang, he was visited yesterday by Dr Shields, who reports favourably of his condition, and his speedy recovery is confidently expected. No one else was allowed to see him, Mr Castieau having received instructions from the Chief Secretary to admit no one without a special order.
Mr Hare’s wound has not proved quite so serious as was anticipated, and there is every prospected of his shortly recovering the use of his arm. He is staying at Sunbury now as a guest of the Hon WJ Clarke.
A report was circumstanced in town yesterday that a fresh outbreak of bushrangers had taken place at Stanley , near Beechworth. On inquiries being made, it was, ascertained that the police authorities had received no communication on the subject, and that the report was without foundation. Since the tragedy Glenrowan has been visited by crowds of people, who have inspected the ground in the vicinity of the house in which the outlaws took refuge with eager curiosity, but there is a sufficient force of police on the spot to keep order.
Superintendent Sadlier is still at Benalla, and reports that everything is quiet there. Among those who contributed a share towards the destruction of the Kelly gang, Mr HE Cheshire , acting postmaster at Beechworth; deserves to be mentioned. There is no telegraph office at Glenrowan and Mr Cheshire, therefore, on hearing that the Kelly gang had broken out there, proceeded with the Beechworth detachment of police by train on Monday morning, and on arrival had the wires cut, and connected with a small pocket telegraph instrument, thereby Glenrowan in telegraphic communication with the city. He did all the telegraphing himself, on his own account, and it must be admitted that he rendered a very important service in the interests of justice and humanity.
The engine driver and fireman of the special train which was despatched on Sunday night also deserves some recognition for the readiness they displayed in placing themselves in a position of danger. It appears that in running through the Craigieburn gates, damage done to the gear of the brake rendering it entirely useless. The pilot engine being provided with a brake, the driver of the special train, H Alder, suggested that this engine should take the train, at the same time volunteering his services as driver of the pilot engine. The fireman of the special train, H Burch, also volunteered his services for the pilot engine. After running at a fair speed for some time in front of the train containing the police party, speed was slackened on account of the curves, and in order to keep the train that was following in sight. When a strange signal was observed the pilot engine approached cautiously, and on the nature of the signal being ascertained, a stop was made, and the driver then went cautiously back and related to Mr Hare what he had been told by Mr Curnow.
THE PAST YEAR’S PROCEEDING
Ever since the Jerilderie affair many people imagined that the gang had finally left the colony, and were accustomed to shake their heads and look as sagacious as possible when told that the police authorities had positive information that the outlaws were still hiding in the North Eastern district. Of course the authorities in question could at any time have proved their words if such a course had been judicious.
Assistant commissioner Nicolson, who had charge of the police in that district from May, 1879, up to the beginning of June, 1880, has stated that never a month passed without his receiving authentic information of movements of the outlaws. Such was the terrorism, however, that the latter caused, and such their cunning, that in most instances the information received by the police came too late to be of any use. It will be remembered that very soon after Mr Nicolson took charge of affairs the permanent garrison men were withdrawn from the district, and the police force there was considerably reduced, the number of constables left being 60.
With this reduced force Mr Nicolson improvised a new system of operations, which new system was continued in force after his removal to another district and until the destruction of the gang. Previously to the introduction of the new plan the course adopted was to send large bodies of police – numbering perhaps a dozen, with 15 horses- out into the district to look for the Kellys. These troops would have no idea when they started where or in what direction the Kellys were and would have no such idea when they returned to the point of departure. The attracted such attention, cost a lot of money, were sufficiently numerous to feel tolerably secure, and in fine weather enjoyed themselves immensely. The leading feature of the new system was the dispersal of the force in small parties of four men or fewer, stationed in places likely to be attacked or haunted by the gang. These men were not in uniform and it is by the bye, a singular fact that policemen in uniform were often able to pick up more information than those in plain clothes.
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