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 has been like looking for a needle in a hay stack, and the men are naturally disheartened. On the morning of Wed- nesday 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. These 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 Be- nalla, 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. These are simply a continuation of the Strathbogie Ranges. They could not, it is supposed, have travelled very fast, on account ot the weight of arms, ammunition, and gold which they have now to carry. Four saddled horses answering the description of those ridden by the gang were seen on the top of the Big-hill, in one of Mr. Younghus- bands paddocks on Wednesday, by a gentleman who was travelling by coach from Merton to Longwood. Another person on the coach observed a boy who appeared to be armed, watching the road from the top of an isolated rock, some 12ft or 14ft in height, which commanded an extensive view. This was about 4 o'clock in the afternoon.
Members of the police force complain that the widows of the late Sergeant Kennedy and Constable Lonigan have not received a shilling from the Government since their husbands were murdered, which is now some six weeks ago, and that the hardship is aggra- vated by the fact that arrears of pay were due to the unfortunate men. It is further stated that the transmission of money to the poor widows is delayed by sheer red-tapeism. If these allegations prove to be true, they will rouse the indignation of the whole com- munity, and in the meantime they are highly calculated to dishearten the members of the force who are called upon to risk their lives in the capture of the murderers.
The suggestion that the Garrison Corps should be sent into the bushranging district to protect the townships and the banks has commended itself to the Chief Secretary,who yesterday telegraphed to Captain Standish, offering to send up the corps. Up to a late hour last night however, nothing definite had been done in the matter. There is no question that something of this kind is urgently required. At Wood's Point there are two banks — branches of the Victoria and Colonial — which are understood to contain at present a large amount of treasure. Both of them have generally a large reserve of cash for the pur- pose of buying gold, which is sent down to Melbourne under escort. The last escort from Woods Point passed within a few miles of the scene ot the police murders on the day before the tragedy, and it is therefore supposed that the bushrangers may have been out looking for it when they fell upon the police camp. Only one policeman is stationed at Wood's Point and the banks have very reasonably telegraphed to the Government for additional protection. The townships of Gaffney's Creek, Laura- ville, and Jamieson, where there are branches of the Colonial Bank, are also only favoured with one constable each. It will be re- membered that this subject was brought under the notice of the Government by Mr. Graves before Parliament closed, but it has been virtually ignored by the authorities. A rumour was current yes- terday that an attempt had been made to stick up the bank at Jamieson, but there has been no confirmation of the statement.
In consequence of the latest exploit of the outlaws, the Government have decided to increase the reward for the apprehension or capture dead or alive, of Edward Kelly, from £500 to £1,000. This is notified in the Government Gazette and 700 or 800 calico posters, with that announcement, were last night forwarded to the districts in which the outrages were perpetrated. The total reward is thus brought up to £2,500. It is also announced in the Gazette that the Go- vernor with the advice of the Executive Council, has appointed Inspecting-superin- tendent Nicolson to be assistant-commis- sioner of police.
From what Mrs Fitzgerald (wife of one of Mr Younghusband's station hands) states, it now seems very doubtful that Kelly wrote a letter to the Legislative or Executive Council.
And this much is certain, that she never undertook to post any such document. The statement that she had done so must have originated from the circumstance that she supplied the outlaw Byrne with postage stamps for a letter, the address of which he carefully concealed. Shortly before the desperadoes left to perpetrate the bank rob- bery, Byrne asked Mrs. Fitzgerald for a stamp. She procured one, and stuck it on to the en- velope, but as she did so he held a piece of paper over the address. Byrne weighed the
letter in his hand, and remarked that he did not think one stamp would carry it, and Mrs Fitzgerald gave him a second one. He then rolled it up in a piece of paper, and placed it in his breast. Nothing more has been heard of it, and it is supposed that it was more likely intended for a friend than for the authorities. Byrne spent a good deal of time with Mrs Fitzgerald whilst she was cooking in the kitchen. He chatted with her on general topics, and played for her enter- tainment on a concertina. A copy of The Australasian was lying on the table, and the news it contained concerning the gang was read by him with avidity. He denied the report that certain burned saddles which had been found in the bush were those which be- longed to the horses stolen from the police. Before starting for the township, the gang made Mrs Fitzgerald give them water, a comb, and a hairbrush. She brought them the water in a bucket from the creek, at- tended to all their wants, and they performed
their toilet carefully. Before finally leaving, the gang shook hands with their prisoners all round, and distributed silver coins amongst the children. Their conduct was evidently studiously regulated for the purpose of pro- ducing a favourable impression.
In reference to the report in connexion with the National Bank robbery, that a num- ber of valuable securities and title deeds were taken from the bank, we have authority to state that the only documents taken are one Crown grant, one Crown lease and four small bills, amounting together to less than £100, and that the particulars of all these are
A preliminary meeting was held at Mans- field on Wednesday to consider what steps should be taken for erecting a memorial tomb- stone over the graves of the murdered police- men. It was attended by Mr. Graves M.L.A., Mr Kitchen, J.P., Sub-inspector Pewtress, and a number of the residents, and it was decided that full particulars of the contem- plated memorial should be advertised in The Argus next week, and that the editor should be requested to receive subscriptions.
[BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH ]
(FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORTER )
This has been a remarkably quiet day both here and at Benalla, for nothing has been heard from any of the numerous search parties now out. The police authorities have again made Benalla their headquarters, Superintendents Nicolson and Hare having proceeded to that township by the morning train to join Captain Standish. Mr Nicolson is, however, now suffering from severe affec- tion of the eyes, and he proceeded to Mel- bourne by special train during the after- noon, it being understood that he is to
take a few days' rest. It is also rumoured that he has instructions to send up more men during the night. One man was sent up this morning to increase the security of this township, but as the trooper who is stationed here has been temporarily disabled by a fall from his horse, the amount of police protection remains at the minimum. It is however not very probable that the Kelly gang will again pay this township a visit as they must be well aware that everybody is now on the alert, and that a second attempt to rob the bank would prove a failure. At Violet Town, which is the next station along the line, and about 12 miles from here, the inhabitants still remain in a state of scare and are in full expectation of receiving a vîsit from the marauders, but as they have now two additional policemen there their alarm ought in a great measure to have subsided. At the bank there, however, every precaution is taken, the doors being kept partially secured, and plenty of fire- arms in readiness for use if required. The statement made last evening, and at the time set down as an idle rumour, to the effect that a butcher had been stuck- up near Violet Town, has proved to be correct. It appears that about 4 o'clock, as he was driving his waggon home- wards, a mounted man rode up alongside him, and after a few ordinary remarks, sud- denly asked whether he had any money about him. Before giving him time to make any reply, he slipped off his horse, and jumping into the waggon, put a revolver to his head, and made him hand over a sum of about £15, principally in notes. He then rode away, and nothing has since been
heard of him. Of course this added to the excitement that prevailed in the township, and the robbery was at once set down as another offence to be added to the already long score against the Kellys. This, how- ever, is an absurd supposition, the robbery having no doubt been carried out by some individual taking advantage of the scare now existing in the district. From what I have heard to-day there appears not to be the slightest doubt that the gang have been hanging about the place for some days past, and that the whole scheme of robbery was carefully planned and arranged after the party had made themselves acquainted with the doings of the place. Steve Hart was seen in the bar of the hotel one afternoon at the latter end of last week, and he then had a drink with several persons who were present at the time. Of course at this time there was not the slightest idea that he had anything to do with the gang, and it is only since the sticking-up occurrence that some of the persons present have re-
membered the visit of this man. In the course of the conversation that then took place, Steve Hart made numerous inquiries about Meade's claim, and how it was turning out. This claim is on the Dry Creek, about 30 miles from here, and Meade is in the habit of lodging his gold at the National Bank here. The smelted gold which was taken from the bank by the robbers came from his claim. As an instance of the amount of impudence and bravado that exist among the Kelly family and their con- federates it may be mentioned that one of the search parties returning to Benalla met Kelly's sister on the road, and she entered into conversation with one of the number, whom she knew. After a few remarks she said, with cool insolence "Wouldn't you like to know whether I have got any of those sovereigns yet?" A farmer from the outlying district reports that when a few miles out of town this afternoon a man well mounted on a bay horse rode up to him, and having mentioned him by name, said that he was aware that he (the farmer) knew every inch of the Strathbogie Ranges, and offered him £100 if he would show him a track over the spurs by which the Kelly's could get on to the Broken River. The farmer refused the offer on the ground that he had a large family, and the man then rode away into the bush. A commercial traveller who has just come in from Gobur, in the Alexandra dis- trict, states that the Kellys stuck up Messrs. Stoddart and Rowe's station, near Alexandra, where they remained all night. Mr Stoddart escaped by swimming the river, and took the information into Alexandra. These are all the particulars that can be obtained at pre- sent. ____________________