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«Its Causes, Course and Consequences A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in History in the ...»

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The Council decided on 16 May that the "Evertsen" should be kept at Ambon and that H.M. Frigate "Maria Reigersbergen", which was expected in Port soon from Ternate, would be sent to Saparua. Ver Huell received orders to anchor his ship just past the South-East point of the Fort Victoria, in other words right in front of the main part of the town, her batteries loaded with live ammunition so that, in the unhoped for event of a revolt, resolute action could be taken.

As no warships were available immediately the Council decided to send an expedition to Saparua in native boats.

The organisation was in the hands of Lt. Colonel Krayenhoff, a weak officer whose appointment as military commander had been very much a matter of second choice, symptomatic of the 36 Ver Huell Vol. I, p.129.

general shortage of officers in the army He appointed Major Beetjes of the Engineer Corps, who some years earlier had worked on Saparua as a civil engineer and thus had local knowledge, to take command of a detachment composed of 120 men of the naval ships, under their own officers, plus thirty European and fifty native troops. The whole plan was later condemned by General Anthing, the Army Commandant, on the grounds that Beetjes, who had served only in the Engineering Corps and thus had had no experience as a field officer, was given command, and also on the grounds of the composition of the detachment.

"It should have been composed of trained troops, and the.

seamen, certainly not less courageous but less experienced

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rest of his troops he now went round the north coast of Haruku and then between the islands of Haruku and Saparua under cover of darkness, reaching Saparua Bay in the morning.

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38 Anthing Report 20 June, 1817, quoted by V.d. Kemp in Bijdragen (1911) p.602.

39 Journal Lt. H.P.M.lt Hoofd, Rijksarchief, The Hague.


The strong surf made the landing of the ten kora-koras near Fort Duurstede impossible, so the boats, sailing in line abreast, made for Paperoe, all running on to the beach together. The landing-site proved to be an unfortunate choice as the ground was very marshy. The landing was a

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and getting their powder wet. The rebels, led by Matulesia and Rhebok were lying in ambush in the dense brushwood that ran along the beach, and they opened heavy and accurate The troops formed into three divisions on the beach but the resistance was too strong and they were beaten back. Most of the off icers, including the commander,Haj or Beetj es, were killed. The boats, which had been left unguarded, had dri away from the beach and the retreating troops had to swim for them. Many of the exhausted men, who had been on the move for 24 hours, were shot or cut down with swords while up to their necks in the water. One boat with about 50 men capsized and all of them drowned. Only one boat got away and eventually reached Zeelandia on Haruku. Only 30 men had survived the battle.

J)lJ.atulesia, who had conducted his fight well, now changed his simple uniform for that of Major Beetjes and as a further embelishment hung the third epaulette, mentioned earlier, on his chest. He ordered the people of Nusa Laut, who, he felt, had not supported him properly, to bury the dead. Two survivors were found amongst the corpses and both were spared; one because he pretended to be English, as proof of which he showed his tattoos, and the other because he was

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south coast population of Ceram and their call met with a large response. Their ready participation could possibly be explained by the fact that the Dutch were known to be intent on the complete elimination of the lucrative spice smuggling trade between the Cerammers and the Makassarese.

OVer a thousand fierce mountain Alfurs crossed to Saparua and took part in the fighting when it broke out again.

Matulesia also sent a Ceram-owned boat to the independent

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obliged but the vessel was intercepted by the corvette UWilhelmina u and its cargo confiscated, but other attempts were more successful. The "Porto Report" mentions that on ten occasions between 28 August and 13 October 1817 Matulesia bought gunpowder, and paid for it with the cloves he had found in the stores of Fort Duurstede.

The participation of the Ceram Alfurs must not be seen as a widening of the conflict beyond the Moluccas; the Ceram Alfurs were part of the Moluccas. Neither should the gunpowder supplies from Bali be taken as such an indication.

The Balinese had no quarrel with the Dutch; both Bali and Lombok were independent in all but name until 1841 and even by 1885 only a small part of Bali was effectively occupied.

The barter of gunpowder for spices was purely a matter of

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gunpowder 'Vlas shipped. At no stage did the Ambon revolt spillover into islands beyond the Moluccas.

The retreating Dutch survivors of the Beetjes expedition, on arrival at Fort Zeelandia on Haruku, rejoined the fifty men left behind on the way dmvn and the reinforcements which had arrived there in the meantime, thirty men who had arrived there on 22 M:ay. The British ship "Swallow" under Captain Wilson had brought two fieldguns from Ambon to replace the rotting mountings of the Zeelandia's guns This too must not be seen as widening the dispute any further by involving Britain. The several British ships that were involved in the various expeditions were simply hired by the Dutch. They were privately-owned vessels and all transactions were between the individual masters and the Dutch government, and as will be seen below, the masters earned for themselves the stern disapproval of the Bengal government.

Further reinforcements arrived at "Zeelandia" on 22 May, bringing the total strength of the garrison to 106 men.

The British cruiser "Nautilus" now arrived in Ambon, on its way from Ternate to Bengal to take back Ternate's British Resident Mackenzie. The Moluccan Commissioners requested the Captain of the "Nautilus", Commander Hepburn, to assist in putting down the revolt, the more so "since the rebellion is fought under the British flag and one might reasonably have expected that they would have seen this as an affront to their flag, which they would have revenged II • 43 Ver Ruell. Vol. I I pp. 181-188.

44 Engelhard Letter to Batavia dated 12 June 1817.

Schneither Archief, Rijksarchief,The Hague.

But Mackenzie refused pointblank, and indicated that even the

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with his approval and that the master "would have to justify his actions to his government and that his ship might very well be confiscated", since he had fought against a people

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complaint about this refusal, to the Bengal Governor-General, elicited the terse reply that individual commanders were certainly not authorised to use government ships for purposes for which they were not intended, and that the Bengal government was seriously disturbed that British civilian merchant vessels had aided the.Moluccan Commission in its war with the rebels • This refusal of the British to render assistance against the rebels, was, it should be noted, in direct contradiction to the policy the Bengal

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regarding the implications of the London Treaty of 13 August, 1814. In their reply to points raised by the Batavia

Government, Bengal wrote:

"Para 15. The questions discussed in the preceding paragraphs comprehend all those classed under the political branch. The financial questions, as already stated, will form the subject of a special

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47 Letter from The Government of Batavia to Earl Moira, Governor General in Council, 15 March 1816.

48 Letter from Governor in Council, Fort William to Charles Assey Esq., Secretary to the Government of Batavia, 18 May 1816. (1. O. L. & R.)

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and on 30 Mayan attack was launched on Fort Zeelandia by a force of 600, but the grape shot of the field guns caused such heavy casualties that the rebels soon retreated • Ver Huell reports that the next day "an Indian" was caught assessing the strength of the fort. When threatened with torture, he revealed that a mass attack was planned for 2 June, with a force of two thousand men, attacking from five points at once. This news was immediately conveyed to Governor Middelkoop who sent another two hundred men reinforcement. The attack came one day late. The Fort was attacked at a number of points, but the swords and spears that most of the rebels were armed with were no match

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Several small attacks took place during the next few days but the fort held. During the revolt the British flag was flovm at various points of Haruku island, possibly with the aim of winning over Captain Wilson of the "Swallow", the

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British transport hired by the Commission, but that had not prevented Captain Wilson from flying the Dutch flag during the fight and firing grapeshot at the rebels.

The IIPorto Report" describes Thomas M:atulesia's anger at the unfavourable reports that reached him from Haruku.

He had not personally taken command of the fighting there, but had sent his sabre with the rebels as a "jimat" or good luck token.

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commander, realised that with his victory over Fort Duurstede the revolution had not ended. He started to build fortifications along those roads on Saparua which were likely to be used by Dutch troops. He had walls built of coral stone, IIsix feet high and four feet thick. Every thirty metres he

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built a traverse, a wall diagonally across from one of the parallel walls, leaving a narrow gap or gate at one end, and at the other end in the next one. This forced anyone advancing to criss-cross between the traverses being continuously exposed to enemy fire from the next traverse n55 • The Moluccan Commission decided that immediate further action against Saparua was out of the question. More armed vessels were needed, and it was most important to hold on to that which had not yet been lost, Haruku and Ambon itself.

The total professional military force on Ambon and the Uliasan Islands now numbered only fifty five artillerymen, 55 European and 250 native foot soldiers; a precarious situation, especially for Ambon, where precautions had to be taken before anywhere else.

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command of the Magistrate, an ex-naval officer. This gave a corps of 800 men of whom only 300 had rifles; the rest had pikes. The Governor also called for volunteers who, required, were to serve in Ambon's Fort Victoria. This gave another corps of 250 to 300 men, drawn from the ranks of the junior civil servants and the sons of the notables. 100 of these had riflesi the remainder were trained to man the fort's guns. A third corps was a kind of home-guard drawn from the negory population. Finally there was a small remnant of

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Bengalis left over from the British era, of which a small corps of 40 men, on foot and mounted, was formed for police duties; they were to patrol the town and, it was hoped, quell

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the side of the Company is partly to be found in a succession crisis in these islands in which the Sultan of Ternate looked for the support of the government; also important was the fact that they had received an annual payment going back to 1650 as a compensation for the spice income they lost when the Company established its monopoly in the Ambon group and destroyed all clove trees in the rest of the Moluccas, including Ternate and Tidore. Buyskes, a few months later, made grateful use of the offered support.

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came with a large vessel to offer his help against the rebels. There was always trouble between the South Coast Cerammers and the Mountain Alfur and the fact that the former had joined in Matulesia's revolt was probably enough reason

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trouble erupted in several places. As far as manpower would allow, reinforcements were sent to the Pass of Bagoeala, Hila, Hitu Lamah and Liang. At la the Resident and Commander of the Forces was killed l but the rebels were repulsed. Prisoners were hanged, without trial l from the nearest tree.

The Head of the Islamic Hituese rebels was the SO-year old Raja Oeloehapa, a descendant from a family that had traditionally resisted the Dutch since the sixteenth century and who had also been involved in the attempted "Royalist Coup" in 1796 Being too feeble to walk he had himself carried into battle in a sedan chair from which he gave his orders and encouraged his men.

To safeguard Hitu and stop its contact with Ceram as much as possible, private boats were hired and armed. Liang on Hitu's north coast fell to the rebels, albeit at a heavy cost in lives. Ambon immediately sent reinforcements to Wai, south of Liang, to attempt the retaking of this place.

If the commander considered his force of 51 men too small for this purpose the detachment at Bagoeala was to added.

Hila, however, remained a tributary of the rebels and under Matulesia's sway_ The most that could be achieved was to ensure that no further reinforcements for the rebels could be brought in from Ceram. Once Matulesia was captured and the revolt in Saparua had been successfully quelled with the fresh forces brought in by Buyskes, the Hituese negories gradually surrendered to government forces.

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the "Iris", the "Swallow" and the "Dispatch", another British ship, under Captain Crozier, that, to the annoyance of the Bengal government, actively assisted in putting down the revo1t. The flotilla was ready to sail on 24 June.

Its orders were, according to Van Doren 59, "to punish the inhabitants who had taken part in the revolt", but Engelhart in his Batavia Report asserted that it sailed: "in order to enter into dialogue with the natives,,60.

Besides its crew the "Reygersbergen" carried twentyfour armed and 12 unarmed burgers, the latter to act as

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