The Argus at KellyGang 8/11/1878

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BENALLA, Thursday, 8 PM

The police have had information respecting the Kelly gang in their possession during the past day or two, but it was not considered desirable to make use of it, owing to its doubtful character, until yesterday, when corroborative reports were received, and it was then felt that there was every probability of securing the ruffians. Superintendents Nicolson and Sadleir having this knowledge in their possession, had arranged for a strong party to proceed to the district indicated, which, it may now be said, was about midway between Beechworth and Eldorado, on what is known as Reed’s Creek. Here are living two or three families, who, if not directly connected with the Kelly gang by family ties, are known to be close friends of theirs, and the idea was to pay them a sudden domiciliary visit with the expectation of finding some of the gang with them. The matter was kept very secret. Captain Standish, the chief commissioner of police, arrived at Benalla by the afternoon train yesterday, to confer as to the best steps to be taken. As soon as Captain Standish arrived he was met by Mr Nicolson, Mr Sadleir having earlier in the day gone on to Beechworth to make the necessary arrangements, and as soon as the whole of the facts were laid before him he fully coincided with the views of his two officers, and it was arranged that the plan should be at once carried out. Unfortunately it has failed, but there can be no doubt that this is, in a great measure, due to the fact the Kellys have their spies and sympathisers in all parts of the district, so that as soon as any info rmation leaks out or any movement is noticed, info rmation is at once conveyed to them. For instance, when Captain Standish arrived by train in the evening, two of the Lloyds and Isaiah Wright were seen on the platform, and again subsequently, as will be seen later on, the same party inopportunely put in an appearance, and attempted―by cutting the railway telegraph wires―to frustrate the object of the expedition.

About 2 p.m. notice was sent quickly round to all the troopers available in Benalla to report themselves, with arms and horses, at the railway station at midnight, arrangements being at the same time made with the railway department to have a special train in readiness shortly after that hour to proceed to Beechworth; but when an attempt was made to communicate with that township it was found that the wires were cut, or at any rate thrown out of circuit, and it was also found that the line on the Melbourne side of Benalla was interrupted. However, after some delay, the special train got away about 1.30 a.m. , and rapid progress was made to Beechworth, which place, after a few minutes’ stoppage at Wangaratta, was reached soon after 3 o’clock. The train consisted of two horse trucks and the guard’s van. In the former were 10 horses, and in the latter was the chief commissioner of police, Superintendent Nicolson, nine troopers, and a black tracker. Four of these men had been out in the ranges for several days previously, under the command of Sergeant Strachan, and had only returned to Benalla and gone to rest a few hours before they were again called upon to turn out for duty. The men were, however, on the alert, and not only ready but anxious for active duty again. It must be said that the appearance of the party in the van would not have given a stranger any idea of the unusual smart appearance of the Victorian police force, for had such a crowd been met on a well-frequented thoroughfare there would have been a general desire to at once hand over any valuables that might be in the possession of the travellers without any cry of “Stand and deliver” being made.


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