The Royal Commission evidence for 28/6/1881
(see also introduction to day 33 )
SConst Charles Johnston giving evidence
12404 What did you find then?— We found the pack-horse, B 87. That was the pack-horse that was taken from the murdered police.
12406 Was he the one with the white legs?— No.
12407 What did you do with the horse?— Left him there until it was dark and took him down. My intention was to put him in the paddock, and leave him there until I sent one of the men in for provisions to Wangaratta, so if we went further on we could remain at night.
12408 To keep on the tracks?— Yes, at the foot of the range, to pick up the tracks immediately the next morning.
12410 Was this the first time you saw him after seven o'clock , when he ordered you to take the men?— Yes.
12411 What did he do?— He rode up and gave the order– “Halt; form up. Any applications or complaint?”
12412 Did you form up in line?— Yes.
12413 Were there any?— I said there were none that I was aware of. I said we had got one of the horses that were taken from the police. He said, “Who found it?” I said, “The party was all together when we got the horse in the ranges.” He said, “Right; proceed to Wangaratta.”
12414 Did that mean to face right?— I do not know what he meant by the word “right,” but that was what he said–“Right; proceed to Wangaratta.”
12415 Is that the word of command?—“Right” is not; “Right face” is. He meant, I presume that it was right we had the horse, and we should proceed to Wangaratta.
12416 Did you go there?— Yes, we took the horse.
12417 Did you see any superior officer there?— Mr. Nicolson, about ten at night.
12418 Was Mr. Smith present when you saw him?— Yes.
12419 What did Mr. Nicolson say?— Mr. Smith told him about the finding of the horse. Mr Smith had sent word when we were about three miles out of Wangaratta–sent in word by one of the men to tell Mr. Nicolson that one of the police horses was recovered.
12420 Did Mr. Nicolson meet you there?— No, he sent a message back by the man not to mention it anywhere that the horse was found. We went to the stable then, at Wangaratta, and left the horse we found at the police station. We stayed at the hotel where we had been stopping. After we had dinner I went with Mr. Smith and saw Mr. Nicolson.
12421 Was it ten o'clock at night?— It was about eight o'clock when we had our dinner, and I went about ten o'clock with Mr. Smith and saw Mr. Nicolson he told him to proceed in the morning the first thing, and follow the tracks on.
12422 Did you say anything to him about your desire to have black trackers?— We had the trackers then, we got the trackers the previous day.
12423 Is that all Mr. Nicolson said?— He had some conversation with Mr. Smith.
12424 Did you hear it?— Some of it. I heard Mr. Smith say to him, “If we get on to the outlaws what are we to do?” He said, “My men will shoot them.” Mr. Nicolson told him to obey the orders he had given him to proceed the first thing in the morning and follow the tracks on.
12425 Did he say anything about whether he was to shoot them or not?— He did not say. I went back to the hotel.
12426 Nothing occurred with regard to that until you got up in the morning?— I did not hear anything until I got up in the morning at a quarter to four . I got the horses fed, and the men all out, and got them their breakfast.
12427 Were the men all armed?— They were.
12428 How?— I had a repeating rifle, revolver, and I think there were two repeating rifles. A man named Cameron had one.
12429 Had you any conversation with the men as to your belief that you would overtake the outlaws or not?— We had.
12430 What was your opinion?— That we would proceed on, and that we would overtake them before they would get very far, as I believed we were close on to them.
12431 When did you start that morning?— We did not leave Wangaratta till after nine.
12432 What was the reason of the delay?— Waiting for Mr. Brook Smith.
12133 Where was he?— He was in bed.
12434 Do you mean to say he would not get up?— I called him at four.....
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