This work depicts the men involved in a crucial juncture in the life of Edward 'Ned' Kelly: Kelly, his brother Dan, Sergeant Kennedy and Constables Lonigan, Scanlon and McIntyre. In early 1878, Ned Kelly was alleged to have shot at a policeman, Constable Fitzpatrick, who came to the Kelly house to arrest Dan Kelly. The Kellys' mother and brother-in-law were jailed for their parts in the 'attempted murder', and Ned and Dan went into hiding together in the Wombat Ranges near Mansfield, Victoria. A police party comprising Sergeant Kennedy and Constables Lonigan, Scanlon and McIntyre was dispatched to capture them. On 25 October 1878 the officers camped at Stringybark Creek, where Ned marked them.
The next day, when Kennedy and Scanlon went out to search the surrounding bush, the 'Kelly gang' – Ned, Dan, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart – ambushed Lonigan and McIntyre. Ned Kelly shot Lonigan dead as the officer drew his revolver. McIntyre surrendered, and when Kennedy and Scanlon returned, Ned called on them to do likewise. They refused; Ned Kelly killed Scanlon and mortally wounded Kennedy, later shooting him in the heart as an 'act of mercy'. McIntyre escaped to Mansfield and related the story to his colleagues. Within weeks the Victorian government advertised huge rewards for the Kelly gang members, and these rewards increased in the ensuing months. The 'siege of Glenrowan' took place in June 1880; Dan Kelly, Byrne and Hart all died there. Kelly survived, and was executed in November that year.
This wood engraving is a page removed from an original copy of the Australasian Sketcher of Saturday, November 23, 1878.