The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 11 page 1

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The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare

(full text transcription)


The Attack on the Hotel—Wounded

I must now return to my own share in the under taking. When we arrived at Glenrowan the station was in total darkness. I saw a light in the window of the station master's house, which was about 100 yards from the platform. I asked a gentleman, Mr Rawlings, who had come with me from Benalla in our special, to accompany me to the station master's house, leaving all the men on the platform, telling them to keep a sharp 'look out during my absence. I knocked at the window, and a woman, who was crying, opened it. I said to her, "Where is your husband?" She would not answer me. I asked her two or three times and could get no reply. At last I said, "My good woman, do calm yourself and answer me. I will see no harm come to you." She said nothing, but pointed in the direction of the Warby Ranges, and also in the direction of the hotel. I took her to mean that he was taken into the ranges. I said, "Who took him away?" She replied, "The Kellys." I said, "How long ago?" She replied, " Ten minutes."

I must here state that Hart guarded the stationmaster in his own house, and was with him the greater part of the night, and when he heard my train stop about a mile away he took Stanistreet, the station-master, up to Jones's hotel, and reported the matter to Ned Kelly. Stanistreet was put in with the remainder of the prisoners. Their object in doing this was, that they thought when the special arrived at Glenrowan the train might require some signal before it would pass, and that they would compel the station-master to give this while they covered him with their pistols. I left Mrs Stanistreet, and returned to the platform with Rawlings. I told my men that the Kellys had been there ten minutes ago and had taken away the station-master, and ordered our horses to be taken out of the train as quickly as possible.

The Beginning of the Attack

I had hardly given these orders, when I heard the sentry placed at the back of the platform call out, “Who goes there?" The reply was "Police." I saw a man getting over the back of the platform, and heard him calling out my name. I said, "Who is it?" He replied, “Bracken. Go quickly over to Mrs Jones's, the outlaws are all there, and if you don't go this moment they will be gone." I called on the men to follow me. A voice cried out, "What shall I do with the horses?" I said, "Let them go." The men, when taking out the horses, had put down their arms and ammunition on the platform, and in the hurry had a difficulty in finding them. I called out, "Come on, men, or they will be gone." I saw two men standing beside me ready to start, and off I hurried, accompanied by these two. By the path we took, the hotel would be about 200 yards from the platform. I looked round whilst running, and saw several of the men following me.

The hotel, which was in total darkness, was a weather board house with a verandah in front; not a sound came from it. The moon was setting behind the house; our approach could be seen distinctly by any one standing under the verandah, which to us was in total darkness. When I was within sixteen yards of the verandah I saw a flash, and heard a report from a rifle, fired from about a yard in front of the verandah, and my left hand dropped beside me. Three flashes came from under the verandah. The man who fired the first shot stepped back under the verandah, and began firing upon us. He called out, “Fire away, you beggars, you can do us no harm." One of the men beside me said, "That is Ned Kelly's voice," The four outlaws continued firing some minutes; I suppose they must have fired thirty or forty shots at us, as they had repeating rifles and revolvers. My men returned the fire very briskly; I fancy we must have fired at least fifty or sixty shots, for there were not only my men, but the trackers also, who were blazing away as hard as they could fire. We could only fire in the direction from which the flashes came, as the figures of the men were invisible in the darkness.

When we commenced firing, we were unaware there was any one in the house, until we heard the most fearful shrieks coming from inside the hotel from men, women, and children. We discovered afterwards that the front of the building, which the outlaws were standing against, was composed of thin weather boards, and the Martini Henry bullets were going through the building amongst the occupants. Two or three children were shot. There was a general cry to lie down, Bracken, with great forethought, before he left the house, having told them to do so. By this means most of them escaped without injury. Eventually the outlaws retreated inside the hotel, which was still in total darkness. There must have been a terrible scene inside.

The moment the outlaws retreated into the house I ordered my men to cease bring, and told them to surround the hotel and see that no one escaped, whilst I went to the railway platform to have my arm bandaged. It was bleeding fearfully; a bullet had entered one side of my wrist and gone out at the other. I went to tile platform, where I found some of the reporters, one of whom kindly bandaged my wrist up; I made arrangements for a train to be sent to Benalla to inform the officer in charge of what had occurred, and to send a few more men up, as I had no notion what effect the firing had taken upon the outlaws.

At this time I had no idea how serious my wound was, as I had not felt very much pain in it, I then returned to the hotel. I tried to get through the fence, but was unable either to get over it or through it, in consequence of my hand being useless. I could see that the men had taken up their positions surrounding the house, and sat down in a position where I also had good command over the house. Having remained there about a, quarter of an hour I began to feel very faint and dizzy; the wound was bleeding copiously. I attempted to stand up, but had great difficulty in doing so, I managed, however, to get back to the platform, but fell down in a faint from loss of blood. Some restoratives were given me and I recovered consciousness. I was put on the second engine that was at the platform, and sent to Benalla, the blood still running fast from the wound. On my arrival there it was five o'clock . I found a gentleman on the platform, and I asked him to accompany me to the doctor's house, and then to the telegraph station. Before I left Glenrowan I told them all I would be back immediately. I called at the doctor's, told him I had been wounded by Kelly, and requested him to follow me to the telegraph station, as I wanted to communicate with the other stations, and get them to send some assistance.

When I got to the telegraph office I was much exhausted, and terribly excited. I could not write, but got the telegraph master to write to my dictation. I sent messages to all surrounding stations, and just as I had finished, the doctor came in. He took the handkerchief off my arm and said that I was bleeding from the artery. I asked him to attend to it at once, as I wished to return to Glenrowan. The officer in charge also came into the office and I said, "Don't go without me, I shall be all right in a few minutes." His answer was, "Don't be such a glutton, you have got one bullet in you, and you want more." I said I was determined to go back. I remember their putting a mattress on to the floor of the telegraph office, and my lying on it, and then I fainted away and continued unconscious for some time. When I recovered consciousness I felt terribly weak, and could scarcely stand. I was assisted to my hotel and went to bed.

'Don’t be such a Glutton'

I have hitherto merely given my personal experiences with reference to the capture of the Kelly gang, but I think the history would hardly be complete without a full account of all that transpired at Glenrowan during the capture. I have, therefore, taken the following narrative from The Age newspaper of the 29th of June, 1880 —they had their own correspondent on the ground during the fight. A few errors have crept in, and these I have corrected in brackets; but on the whole it is a very fair account of what took place.

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