After Captain Standish and Mr Hare had made arrangements for distributing the garrison artillery in squads of six or seven through the disaffected district, and had added to the police strength in many townships, Mr Hare gave his attention to more active work. Rumours, most of them absolutely baseless, were arriving every day concerning appearances by the outlaws, or some of them, at places in all corners of the district and out of it. A squatter sent word post haste to Benalla that the outlaws were shooting parrots near his garden, and this with many other statements just as absurd received enquiry from the police and kept the men employed. Mr Hare, however, for some weeks, accompanied no search parties himself, his time being fully taken up in making himself acquainted with the police under his command and the private agents in Government employ. This work for a long time kept him travelling from station to station over thousands of square miles of rough, hilly country. On his recommendation some of the smartest men were promoted to the rank of senior constable, in order to give them authority to command the search parties which were everywhere organised for the use when they should be wanted.
From December 12 to the end of the year nothing of any moment took place; but at the beginning of 1879 Captain Standish, Mr Hare and Mr Sadlier in consultation together, and with the approval of the Government, determined to put the Outlawry Act in operation against a number of known or suspected Kelly sympathisers. The greatest secrecy was preserved with regard to this intention. Had it become known that arrests were to be made there might have been as much trouble in catching the sympathisers as in catching their principals; and accordingly, after a black list had been made on information supplied by Detective Ward and several of the police, about twenty men, resident in different parts of the Kelly country, were all arrested on one day and lodged in the Beechworth gaol.
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