The Argus at KellyGang 8/11/1878 (2)

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It should here be said that while the party was waiting on the platform for the train to get ready, three men were seen hanging about taking stock of the party. They were at once pounced upon, and upon being interrogated made some unsatisfactory replies and were detained for the time. Beechworth was reached just as the cold grey dawn was showing over the eastern hills, and the party being here met by Superintendent Sadleir, quietly proceeded to the police camp, where they were reinforced by another strong body of police, until at last, when a departure was made, there were over 30 well-armed and determined men, together with two black trackers.

Rapid progress was made for a few miles along the southern road, and then a divergence was made to the left entering the timber, the men at the same time dividing into three parties, so as not only to push forward more rapidly, but also to cover as much ground as possible. The ground was anything but suitable for rapid progress, as in places it was quite rotten, the horses sinking at times up to their knees, while in other places patches of granite cropped up out of the soil, and this being smooth and slippery from the recent rains, rendered it necessary for every man to keep a tight hand on his bridle, more especially as the gun or rifle carried by each man was loaded, and in readiness for use. After a few miles of such work a halt was called, just as a clearing with a large slab hut was seen in the valley below. A short consultation was held between the officers, and then the place was surrounded by a cordon, while some half-dozen, with Superintendents Nicolson and Sadleir, went to pay a morning call at the house, where it was hoped to find the Kellys. A reserve of about a dozen men was kept in hand by Captain Standish in order to give chase should the desperadoes break through the cordon drawn around them.

A few minutes of intense anxiety, and then the report of a gun was heard. This was quite enough. No necessity for any order to advance. Each man of the party, from the chief commissioner to the junior trooper, instinctively drove his spurs home, and a rush was made for the house. Logs that would have been looked at twice before leaping on another occasion were taken recklessly, rotten ground was plunged through, and a sharp turn round a paddock fence showed a nasty-looking rivulet, swollen with the late rains, and with very bad ground on the taking off side. None of these were noticed, but each man, keeping a tight grip on his weapon with one hand and on his bridle with another, galloped forward, the only anxiety being who should be in first, so as to join in the mélée .

The pace was terrific while it lasted, but when all pulled up at the door of the hut, and rushed it, they found, to their disgust, that the Kellys were not there, and that the report they heard had been caused by the accidental discharge of one of the guns in the anxiety of the advance party to make sure of their expected prey, whom they supposed to be in the house. This one incident very plainly shows me that the remarks that have been made about the police not desiring to come to close quarters with the Kelly gang have been quite uncalled for. What I think is, that the men want to be held more strongly in check, or some more valuable lives will be lost. That the men desire to meet with the Kellys and their two confederates is very plain, and when the two parties do meet I fancy the four ruffians will never be brought in alive.

The house to which such an unceremonious visit had been paid was that of a man named Sherritt, who is well-known to have long been intimately connected with the Kellys, and whose eldest daughter was to be married to one of the party now wanted by the police. The house and immediate vicinity were closely searched, but with no success.


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