The Argus at KellyGang 14/12/1878
The Chief Secretary yesterday, after consultation with the Attorney General, decided to increase the reward offered for the capture of Edward Kelly from £500 to £1,000, and a notification to that effect appears in the Gazelle. The reward for the other members of the gang remains unaltered. Mr Berry also telegraphed to Captain Standish, informing that officer that if he thinks the Local Artillery force can be of service in defending, the banks and places of business in the towns near the ranges, the corps will be placed at his disposal. The rumour reported by our Euroa correspondent that the Kellys had stuck up Messrs Stodart and Rowe's station requires confirmation, as it seems probable, if such a thing had occurred, that news would have reached us from Alexandra
With reference to the account we published yesterday of the last moments of Sergeant Kennedy, our Mansfield correspondent telegraphs that no doubt whatever is felt in the district but that there was a long conversation between the Kellys and the sergeant previous to the death of the latter. It will be remembered that in the letter sent to Mr Monk, and signed E and D Kelly, and believed to be the work of a well- known confederate of the gang, the statement is made, "Your friend Kennedy is gone, although we made him confess many things and many little things you told him in confidence." Mrs Kennedy, so far, has not received the letter said to have been written by her husband, and the belief is, that if there is anything in it which would in any way destroy the gloss the ruffians choose to put on their actions she never will. Our correspondent adds -"The Kellys are now believed to be on the Strathbogie Ranges, and as some of their pals are now in Mansfield , it is not unlikely that the gang are not far away. The police have just been dispatched somewhere in treat haste.?
Ave received quite a budget of letters yesterday, offering suggestions as to how the bushrangers might be suppressed. One correspondent says - Let Mr Berry summon Parliament and pass an act suspending the Habeas Corpus Act for a limited time-say six months-and with respect to a limited district. Then every person suspected of aiding or abetting the murderers can be imprisoned and detained during the suspension of the act and this would root out the scoundrelism which infests the Mansfield district. Another suggests the forming of a "mounted brigade" under an able leader, for the support of which the banks and squatters might subscribe. Others submit that a call for volunteers should be made, and some of the "unemployed" say they would be willing to offer their services for a small remuneration, provided they were competent to earn the Government reward.
Information has reached us which tends to confirm the suspicion that there is something radically wrong in the organisation of the police force. It appears that the men are dissatisfied with the way in which they are officered. They seem to feel that the routes they are ordered to take in pursuing the bush rangers are not those which are most likely to lead them to where the gang might be found. Whether or not this idea is correct, the search for the outlaws as conducted in the past baa been like looking for a needle in a hay stack, and the men are naturally disheartened. On the morning of Wednesday last, when the news of the Euroa outrage was published, there were 16 well mounted troopers and two very competent black trackers-one being "Spider," a well known Cleveland Bay (Queensland) tracker, and the other "Harry," of Yorke Peninsula, a valuable horse tracker -in barracks at Mansfield. Those could have been sent off at once to Euroa, distant only 42 miles, for the purpose of taking up and following the tracks of the desperadoes.
As Ned Kelly's horse was newly shod, whilst the other three were unshod, a clearly defined and characteristic trail must have been left, one which the blacks could have followed very easily. It is a mistake to suppose that it is impossible to track in the Strathbogie Ranges, for in many places the ground is soft and boggy, and although the marks of the horses hoofs might be lost on the top of the ranges and in rough country, yet they could be picked up at once in the valleys which would have to be crossed, and where they could only be obliterated by very heavy rains. Instead, however, of going to Euroa, the Mansfield party only went down the Broken River for some distance in the direction of Benalla, and then returned to the township. They were under the command of Senior constable James, who acted under instructions from Benalla or Wangaratta. It has been well ascertained that the gang, on leaving Faithfull's Creek station, proceeded first towards Violet Town , and then turned in a westerly direction, taking to the Strathbogie Ranges, through Gooram Gooram. They are now supposed by some to be in the Puzzle Ranges, near Merton.
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