Letter from Sub-Inspector Pewtress
"I think it next to useless to lead a handful of constables after four well armed bushrangers and without ample provisions... I know nothing of bush life and therefore unable to guide men to the course they should pursue and might through ignorance lead them into danger and perhaps death"
- Henry Pewtress, Sub-Inspector, Mansfield. 29 October, 1878
This letter was written by Henry Pewtress, Sub Inspector at Mansfield in 1878. Pewtress was in charge of the search party sent out to retrieve the bodies of the murdered police at Stringybark Creek.
In the letter, addressed to the Chief Commissioner, Pewtress provides a moving and honest appraisal of his own ability to lead the search party and the dangers they faced in the hands of someone so inexperienced.
29th October 1878
I start this morning with a search party of volunteers and six constables to search for Sergt Kennedy. I am very unwell from wet, cold and exposure. I wish you would send here a sub-officer who understands bush life, and take charge of the men, as I fear in doing so myself I occupy a false position, in as much as after a days riding I am thoroughly knocked up and I know nothing of bush life and therefore unable to guide men as to the course they should pursue and might through ignorance lead them into danger and perhaps death.
I think it next to useless to send a handful of constables after four well armed bushrangers and without ample provision being made for supplying them with rations etc and this is a duty that I am a totally unacquainted with.