The Argus (4)

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The first encounter

, Capture of Ned Kelly , The siege continued , The end. - the hotel burnt , Interview with Ned Kelly , The attempt on the train , Ned Kellys statements , The bullet proof armour , The stationmaster narrative , Robert Gibbons narrative , Statement of Mrs Reardon , Sergeant Steele's statement , Statement by Charles Rawlins , Statement of Constable Hugh Bracken , Statement of Rev. M Gibney , Statement by Senior Constable Kelly , The murder of Sherritt , The inquest on Sherritt , The ministry and the Kellys , KellyGang

full text of the article








(By Our Special Reporter)

At last the Kelly gang and the police have come within shooting distance, and the adventure has been most tragic of any in the bushranging annals of the colony. Most people will say that it is high time too, for the murders of the police near Mansfield occurred as long ago as the 26 th of October, 1878 the Euroa outrage on the 9 th December of the same year, and the Jerilderie affair on the 8 th and 9 th of February, 1879. The lapse of time induced many to believe that the gang was no longer in the colony, but these sceptics must now be silent. The outlaws demonstrated their presence in a brutally effective manner by the murder of the unfortunate Aaron Sherritt at Sebastopol . Immediately on the news being received a train was despatched from Melbourne at 10.15 on Sunday night. At Essendon Sub-inspector O’Connor and his five black trackers were picked up. They had come recently from Benalla, and were en route for Queensland again. Mr O’Connor, however, was fortunately staying with Mrs O’Connor’s friends at Essendon for a few days before his departure. Mrs O’Connor and her sister came along thinking that they would be able to pay a visit to Beechworth. After leaving Essendon the train at a great speed, and before the passengers were aware of any accident having occurred, we had smashed through a gate about a mile beyond Craigieburn. All we noticed was a crack like a bullet striking the carriage. The brake of the engine had, however, been torn away, the footbridge of the guard’s van destroyed. Guard Bell was looking out of the van at the time, and had a very narrow escape. The train had to be pulled up, but after a few minutes we started again, relying on the brake of the guard’s van. Benalla was reached at half past 1 o’clock , and there Superintendent Hare with eight troopers and their horses were taken on board. We were now about to the Kelly country, and caution was necessary. As the moon was shining brightly, a man was tied on upon the front of the engine to keep a look out for any obstruction of the line. Just before starting, however, it occurred to the authorities that it would be advisable to send a pilot engine in advance, and the man on the front of our engine was relieved. A start was made from Benalla at 2 o’clock , and at 25 minutes to 3, when we were travelling at a rapid pace, we were stopped by the pilot engine. This stoppage occurred at Playford and Desoyre’s paddocks, about a mile and a quarter from Glenrowan. A man had met the pilot and informed the driver that the rails were torn up about a mile and a half beyond Glenrowan, and that the Kellys were waiting for us near at hand. Superintendent Hare at once ordered the carriage doors on each side to be unlocked, and his men to be in readiness. His orders were punctually obeyed, and the lights were extinguished. Mr Hare then mounted the pilot engine, along the a constable, and advanced. After some time he returned, and directions were given for the train to push on. Accordingly, we followed the pilot up to Glenrowan station, and disembarked.


No sooner were we out of the train, than Constable Bracken, the local policeman, rushed into our midst, and stated with an amount of excitement which was excusable under the circumstances, that he had just escaped from the Kellys, and that they were at that moment in possession of Jones’s public house, about a hundred yards from the station. He called upon the police to surround the house, and his advice was followed without delay. Superintendent Hare with his men, and Sub inspector O’Connor with his blacktrackers, at once advanced on the building. They were accompanied by Mr Rawlins, a volunteer from Benalla who did good service. Mr Hare took the lead, and charged right up to the hotel. At the station were the reporters of the Melbourne press, Mr Carrington, of The Sketcher, and the two ladies who had accompanied us. The latter behaved with admirable courage, never betraying a symptom of fear, although bullets were whizzing about the station and striking the building and train. The first brush was exceedingly hot. The police and the gang blazed away at each other in the darkness furiously. It lasted for about a quarter of an hour, and during that time there was nothing but a succession of flashes and reports, the pinging of bullets in the air, and the shrieks of women who had been made prisoners in the hotel. Then there was a lull, but nothing could be seen for a minutes or two in consequence of the smoke. In a few minutes Superintendent Hare returned to the railway station with a shattered wrist. The first shot fired by the gang had passed through his left wrist. He bled profusely from the wound, but, Mr Carrington, artist of The Sketcher, tied up the wound with his handkerchief, and checked the haemorrhage. Mr Hare then set out again, for the fray, and cheered his men on as well as he could, but he gradually became so weak from loss of blood that he had reluctantly to retire, and was soon afterwards conveyed to Benalla by a special engine. The bullet passed right through his wrist, and it is doubtful if he will ever recover the use of his left hand. On his departure Sub inspector O’Connor and Senior constable Kelly took charge, and kept pelting away at the outlaws all the morning. Mr O’Connor took up a position in a small creek in front of the hotel and disposed his black fellows one on each side, and stuck to this post gallantly throughout the whole encounter. The trackers also stood the baptism of fire with fortitude, never flinching for one instant.

At about 5 o’clock in the morning a heart rending wail of grief ascended from the hotel. The voice was easily distinguished as that of Mrs Jones, the landlady. Mrs Jones was lamenting the fate of her son, who had been shot in the back, as she supposed, fatally. She came out from the hotel crying bitterly and wandered into the bush on several occasions and nature seemed to echo her grief. She always returned however to the hotel, until she succeeded, with the assistance of one of the prisoners, in removing her wounded boy from the building, and in sending him on to Wangaratta for medical treatment. The firing coninued intermittently, as occasion served, and bullets were continually heard coursing through the air. Several lodged in the station buildings, and a few struck the train. By this time the hotel was completely surrounded by the police and the black trackers, and a vigilant watch of the hotel was kept up during the dark hours.

At daybreak police reinforcements arrived from Benalla, Beechworth, and Wangaratta. Superintendent Sadleir came from Benalla with nine more men, and Sergeant Steele, of Wangaratta, with six, thus augmenting the besieging force to about 30 men. Before daylight Senior constable Kelly found a revolving rifle and a cap lying in the bush, about 100 yards from the hotel. The rifle was covered with blood, and a pool of blood lay near it. This was evidently the property of one of the bushrangers, and a suspicion therefore arose that they had escaped. That these articles not only belonged to one of the outlaws but to Ned Kelly himself was soon proved. When day was dawning the women and children who had been made prisoners in the hotel were allowed to depart. They were, however, challenged individually as they approached the police line, for it was thought that the outlaws might attempt to escape under some disguise.


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