First Hand Accounts Glenrowan History The Railway


A first-hand account of Jesse Dowsett’s rescue of Margaret Reardon and his involvement in Ned Kelly’s capture.

South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900), Monday 5 July 1880, page 5


Jesse Dowsett, guard on the Victorian railways, states — I came up with the train that left Benalla at 5 o’clock on Monday morning, and on arriving at Glenrowan I found they were still firing at the hotel. I had a Colt’s breech-loading revolver supplied to me by our department. A woman was screaming near the hotel. I crawled up under the fence on my hands and knees, and got within thirty yards of the hotel. I called upon her in a low voice to come on, and she walked towards me. She proved to be Mrs. Reardon, with an infant in her arms. I caught hold of her and brought her down to the platform, where I handed her over to the reporters. After getting some cartridges from another guard, I made my way back again to the front from tree to tree. Got pretty close up to the house, and was challenged by the police. I replied, “Railway.” Went alongside of a constable, and at this time there was warm firing from the skillion window. All at once I saw the figure of a man looming up in the bush behind us, about 150 yards away. I called out to Senior-constable Kelly, “My God, who is that?” The senior constable ordered the troopers who were nearer the man to challenge him, and to shoot him down if he did not answer. The man only replied by firing four or five shots at us with a revolver, and steadily advanced, as if making for the hotel. We then made for cover, and went for him. After we had fired at him for some time, he sat down behind a tree, evidently to reload his weapon. I asked Senior-Constable Kelly, “Cannot you pot him off from there?” The senior-constable fired, and I saw that his bullet hit the right-hand side of the tree. He fired again, and I said, “By ——, you have hit him on the hand,” for I saw that he had been wounded there. The man then left his cover, and came straight towards us, walking right out into the open. I fired five shots at him, point blank, from a distance of twelve or fifteen yards, and hearing the bullets thud upon him with a metallic sound, and seeing him still advancing, I exclaimed, “This must be the Devil.” He then tapped his helmet with his revolver, and said, ‘You —— dogs, you cannot shoot me.” I then thought the man was mad, and that he was ringing a bell. He then went into the fork of a fallen tree, and I went up to the butt end of it. I said to him, “You had better surrender, old man. Throw up your hands.” He replied, “Never while I have a shot left.” I then took a “pot” shot at him over the log, and said, “How do you like that, old man ?” He rose up and said, “How do you like this ?” firing at me. I was not hit. At this juncture Sergeant Steele left his tree, and ran up towards the man to within twelve or fifteen yards, and fired. The man dropped behind the log. Steele, Senior-constable Kelly, and I ran up. Steele seized the man by the hand, Kelly caught him by the headgear, and I caught hold of his revolver. Kelly pulled off his helmet, and Steele, catching hold of him by the beard, said, “By heavens, it is Ned — I said I would be at the death of him.” The reporters came running up to us at the same time, and with their assistance we carried our prisoner to the railway station.

By AJFPhelan56

Father, writer, artist and bushranging historian residing in Melbourne, Australia. Author of 'Glenrowan' and the popular website A Guide to Australian Bushranging.

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