Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer by Sup John Sadleir
The bushranger Henry Power gave the police a very busy time at the later sixties, until his final capture in 1870 by Superintendents Nicolson and Hare and Sergeant (after Superintendent) Montfort. His exploits were mostly confined to the North-eastern District.
Power, having escaped from the Penal Establishment at Pentridge, at once entered upon his second and final career as a bushranger. Power seemed to be ubiquitous. After committing a robbery at one place to-day, he was found the next day engaged in a similar exploit fifty miles distant. The base of his operations was in the Greta Country, as was that also of his sometime pupil Ned Kelly, the leader of the Kelly gang. Power roved further afield than the Kellys commonly ventured, for he was met as far west as Kyneton and Blackwood, and to the south-east as far as Bairnsdale in Gippsland.
After several successful cases of highway robbery, his career as a bushranger was very nearly brought to an abrupt termination by the plucky action of one or two carriers whom he attempted to stick up on the Sydney Road , near Benalla. This was on June 2 nd, 1869 . The carrier watched his opportunity, and rushing in on Power knocked him down, when he and his mate tied him up and bundled him into their wagon, an uninvoiced piece of goods, to be delivered at the nearest police station. The carriers, however, did not carry out their purpose, for on reaching the little township of Baddaginnie they exhibited the captive bushranger to a local storekeeper named Donaldson. The carriers did not know the value of their prize, and when the storekeeper at Baddaginnie told them that the captured man was a poor decent fellow with wife and family depending on him, and a man who had never harmed anyone, they were persuaded to let the captive go free - another instance of the tolerance shown to evil doers by apparently respectable residents in the north-eastern district of Victoria.
Power lost no time in taking advantage of his restored freedom, and in fact became busier on the road than ever. He stuck up the Buckland coach a few miles from Beechworth. He directed one of the passengers to go round amongst his fellows collecting all the valuables in his hat, and laying their tribute at his feet. He took a fancy to one of the leaders, and had the harness removed. A solitary traveller who had just ridden up unwillingly supplied the necessary saddle and bridle, and Power rode away triumphant, provided with good amount of cash.
Power found the sticking-up of public coaches a pleasant as well as a profitable variation to the less interesting business of stopping and robbing solitary wayfarers. Not long after the affair of the Buckland coach, he turned his attention to the coach running between Mansfield and Jamieson, on the Wood’s Point Road . He took possession of the mail-bags, and having cut them open, took charge of such cash and cheques as they contained, also taking away one of the horses. He confided to the driver, Peter Thompson, that he was about to visit Wood’s Point, and that he would see him at the same place next week. It was supposed that all this was simply intended to deceive the police. Power, however, was as good as his word, and Peter Thompson had the unpleasant experience of seeing his coach rifled a second time within a week.
Shortly after these events, Ned Kelly became a junior partner of Power in the trade of bushranger. Kelly could scarcely have been twenty years of age at the time, but young as he was he showed such great ferocity of character and displayed such readiness to shoot, that Power, who scarcely ever pointed a gun at any of his victims, began to fear that his own neck might be endangered through some indiscretion of his youthful ally, and finally brought the partnership to an end.
It was while they still worked together that they visited Mount Battery , near Mansfield , the home of Dr. Rowe, of whom mention has been made in another chapter. They were in need of fresh mounts, and wished to make a selection of some of the doctor’s horses.
Dr. Rowe was sitting in the house when word was brought to him that Power and a companion were on the hill overlooking his horse paddock. Although well advanced in years, the doctor loaded his rifle, and, while his horse was being saddled and warning conveyed to one of his sons to join him, he did a little stalking on his own account. He succeeded in getting within long range of the two men, who were lying full length in the sun. It was a near thing; his shot knocked the gravel into their faces, and sent them galloping away as fast as their horses could carry them.
This document gives you the text of the book as written by Sup Sadleir about the KellyGang and related matters. The text has been retyped from a microfiche copy of the original. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors. This document is subject to copyright.