Thursday, January 21, 2016

Jatingaleh, The Waterloo van Java

The Waterloo Plein, now known as Lapangan Banteng in Jakarta. Its named after the White Monument with The Lion Statue on the top of it to commemorate the Prince of Orange (later  reigning as Willam II of Netherlands) who take a part on Waterloo Battle in 1815. The monument then torned down during the Japanese occupation.
(source:Leiden University Library)
The British Troops invaded the Dutch Indies on March, 1811 from India as a part of Napoleonic War. The Netherlands had been controlled by France for several years and was already at war with Britain. Thus, Dutch Indies, now is under the French rules and also became the enemy of the Britons. If in Europe its well known the Waterloo as the last battle of the French against the Coalition Army, ending the Napoleonic War in Europe, here in Semarang, actually there’s a Jatingaleh Battle, the last major battle before the Dutch Indies officialy all into the British hands.

The tombstone of Liutenant-Colonel William
Campbell, of His Britannic Majesty’s
78th Regiment in All-Saint Anglican Church
Jakarta. Campbell died on August 28th 1811
during the Siege of Meester Cornelis.
After the failure to repeled the British attack at Meester Cornelis (nowadays Jatinegara, Jakarta), General Jansens and His troops were escaping to Semarang. Semarang at that time is already became the principal central station of the Java Island, belongs as a large town, with a considerable European population. It is defended by a stone parapet and rampart, with bastions, and a wet ditch, but only calculated for defence against a native power. Here in Semarang, Jansens had collected a considerable force, principally from the native prince. Among whoms, were Prince Prang Wedono (Mangkunegara II) who have a strength 1500 men well trained army called Legion Mangkoenegaran. This is the first regular army in western style in owns by native kingdoms, who established in 1808 and its likely inspired by French Grande Armee.

The British troops chasing the Jansens retreat to Semarang, led by Captain Maxwell, this “Red Coats” army were sailed to Semarang on September 10th 1811. On th September 13th the British troops, now under the command of Colonel Gibbs, landed at Semarang, but then realized that the French Troops is already abandoned the city. The Jansens were made a last attempt to repels the British attack in the hilly and difficult terrain in south of Semarang, Gombel Hill. The Jansens has choosed the battlefield were He can takes the advantages of this hilly terrain and the flanks of the position were protected by the extreme difficulty of the approach, and could not be turned in any other way than by a road of many miles through an intricate country. The road toward Gombel  itself  which is part of the main road to Solo, were barried with many chevaux de frise, a medieval defensive anti-cavalry measure consisting of a portable frame (sometimes just a simple log) covered with many projecting long iron or wooden spikes or spears. Jansens also prepared thirty pieces of cannon, regularly placed on platform. Almost impossible the British troops could beat them in such this condition, but on the other hands, a lots of the French army under Jansens were tiresome of the battle. Many of the army were actually the Dutch army that due to their country were occupied by the French, so now they served into the French Army. For them its not make sense to fights to the death against the British Army superiority, because of actually they were not fights for their homelands, but for their country occupants, the French.   

An aerial photos from Leiden University Library archives depicted the Djatingaleh KNIL kampement (now used as military facilities of Batalion ARHANUDSE, an Air Defence Artillery Department ) in 1930-1932. Comparing with the sketch of enemy position in the William Thorns books titled Conquest of Java, the X sign above is the position of French Troops in Gombel Hill, and the X below is the position of Jatingaleh valley (on the sketch is spelled as Jatty Nallee). Now the valley is built a highway that became a part of Semarang Toll Road . 
September 16th 1811, at two o’clock in the afternoon, Colonel Gibbs moved their troops to attacking the French position in Jatingaleh. About 1200 firelock (muzzle-loading firearm) and six guns were prepared for this. The Colonel halted in fornt of the position before the dawn, in order to reconnoitre, which was essentially necessary previous to an assault, as no information,  on which any reliance was to be placed, could be obtained at Semarang. A detachment with two guns, was sent to occupy a hill, which appeared to overlook the left of the enemy line. The remaining guns were brought to throw shot at a great elevation accros the vallet into the French Troops position. Soon as the guns were firing at the enemy position, Colonel Gibbs rushed accross the valley and up to the main road till they nearly reached the summit of the hill. They halted and allow the main body to advance. The enemy was surprised, they even didnt open fire till the British Troops under shelter.The British Troops the crossing the Valley of Jatingaleh, Colonel Gibbs ordering general advance on the enemy position. 

British Redcoat uniforms,
by Cpt. R.H.Raymond Smythies, 1894
The French Troops now distracted their collumns, leaving their guns behind and retreating in all directions. Its all proved that the discipline and the morality of the French Troops in the lowest level during the whole battle in Java. Comparing to the Siege of Meester Cornelis that in total British Troops lost 156 of his men , 788 wounded and 16 missing in August 27th 1811, this battle was nothing. Some sources account that only the Legion Mangkoenegaran maintain their disciplines, but soon its also crushed by the Red Coats. Jansens fleed to the south, to Fort of Salatiga and finding himself totally deserted by His men. He sent the same night a request to the British Troops for a cessations of arms and an offer to treat for a capitulation. The request were sent to the Liutenant General Sir Samuel Auchmuty, that  saw this is the chance for the British Troops to shortened the conquest of Java, even the British Army still preparing to taken the city of Surabaya, another major harbour city in Java. The capitulation finaly taken place at Tuntang, a small city in the west of Salatiga on September 18th 1811. After that, the Dutch Indies, now is officialy under the "Union Jack", and on October 11th 1811, the Lord Minto, the Governor General of India appointed Sir Stamford Raffles as the Governor General of Java.  

Source: The Conquest of Java by William Thorns
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