|In 1879 the Victorian police issued a notice for the capture of ‘The Kelly Gang’ - ‘$8000 REWARD. Robbery. Murder.’|
There was an air of desperation about this generous offer - not only had the first reward of $4000 failed to excite public support but the gang’s latest venture saw them effectively take control of an entire town, stealing and vandalizing without contest - as brazen and cunning a crime as any, points noted by a royal commission which later looked into the event:
“The daring with which this outrage was committed, and the impunity with which the gang were allowed to swoop down upon a township, to bail up the police, to rob one of the banks, and return to their haunts in Victoria, marked this episode as one of the most extraordinary in the whole career of the outlaws.“
A colorful story which the public had an appetite for, especially news of its unofficial leader Ned Kelly, seen by many as more of a social bandit than a robber. This view was destined to stick as details of the latest crime came to light, of when Ned took pause from robbing the bank to locate the townsfolk’s mortgage deeds and torch them. Whether the debts were voided is unclear but it certainly afforded the man a Robin Hoodesque quality.
It was Ironic that a letter written by Ned Kelly for publication and presented in person to the editor of a newspaper failed to get a run. In this document, now known now as ‘The Jerilderie letter’, Ned Kelly explained the reasons for him being an outlaw via a personal account of discrimination against the Irish Catholic settler and of the ill treatment his family had suffered at the hands of police and Irish Protestant squatters. It has since been recognized as an important historical artifact and record of the man’s character, not appreciated by the newsman at the time who passed it onto the police. This was as close to the gang as police would get for more than a year.
It was 1880 when news reached the gang of a special police train carrying a hunting party scheduled to pass through the town of Glenrowan . This was an opportunity to stop running. Somewhere along that stretch of line they'd bring the train off the rails.
The gang arrived in Glenrowan and holed up the Ann Jones Inn, chosen for close proximity to the railway. They had to detain about 70 locals while at the Inn to ensure their presence remain secret. Among the hostages was Glenrowan schoolteacher Thomas Curnow. He put it to the Gang he be allowed to return home for family matters and was freed, an unwise call it would turn out, as the man immediately alerted police of the gang and the danger to the train.
With their plans foiled it is unclear why the Kelly Gang did not flee before the Inn was entirely surrounded by police. Perhaps they never intended to. One thing is for sure, they had planned for such an encounter and forged suits of plate metal amour, bulky and exceedingly heavy but tuff enough to repel bullets.
It was early morning when police saw four figures emerge from the Inn and take position on the verandah. In the near dark they were an unnerving sight, appeared like four misshapen giants. Perhaps that confusion lent the Kelly Gang a moment or two more grace before the first volley of police fire greeted them. The brute violence of lead smashing against metal was staggering, but none of them fell, and once steady they advanced, firing into the haze of gun smoke and cartridge flash rising from the police line.
It was this moment of crazed defiance that Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang would be most remembered.
Created by Behemoth. Version 1.0 released December 6, 2009.
Kelly is a Map for the game Lux Delux.
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