The True Story of the KellyGang of Bushrangers Chapter 16 page 1

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One of the first matters of Mr Nicolson’s decision when he returned to the command at Benalla, arose on a question from Mr Sadlier concerning search parties sent out on chance. Mr Sadlier said ‘he hoped to Heaven Mr Nicolson was not going to continue this fooling any longer,’ to which Mr Nicolson replied that he was not. Mr Sadlier had frequently protested to Mr Hare against these expeditions which he thought wearied and broke down men and horses to no purpose, but Mr Hare refused to discontinue them. Mr Nicolson, however, was of Mr Sadlier’s way of thinking and the methods of the campaign were changed. On information considered reliable and sufficiently fresh parties still went out, but the general policy adopted was, while surrounding the outlaws with spies or agents, to lull them into a sense of false security by seldom taking active measures against them. Mr Nicolson hoped that by this policy they would be tempted to show themselves with more and more boldness in the settled districts, and enable him to finally make a sudden spring which would once and for all put a stop to their career. Whether he had favoured this change or no, circumstances to some extent forced it upon him, for he was allowed to draw upon the war chest for his campaign by no means so generously as Mr Hare and Captain Standish had done. The Government were anxious to cut down expense and Captain Standish fell in with their views by withdrawing numbers of men from the district in spite of the protests of Mr Sadlier, who, having been on the spot from the beginning, was perhaps best able to judge the necessities of the situation. A comparison of the expenses incurred during Mr Hare’s regime which lasted about seven months, and during that of Mr Nicholson which lasted eleven months, shows very clearly how the latter officer was relatively disadvantaged by want of money. For the former period the expenditure was £11,371, and for the latter and longer one, only £6,722—Mr Nicolson thus having at his disposal per month less than half the money spent by Captain Standish and Mr Hare.

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