Aceh War !!
In May 1875, Generaal van Swieten, 68 years old and well-above retirement age, turned over command to Generaal-Majoor Pieter Cornelius van Pel
(photo and Jakarta grave above).
Van Pel's tenure saw increasing Acehnese attacks on Dutch-held areas around Koetaradja. The Dutch lost control of Peukan Bada, Blang Kala Pass, Pagar Ajer, and Koetaradja suburbs of Moekim IX and VI. These disastrous losses caused Generaal-Majoor van Pel to be recalled. He sailed for Batavia on June 1877, replaced by one-eyed Generaal Karel van der HeydenGeneraal Karel van der Heyden
(1824-1901), half-Dutch and half-Bugis general who took over command of Aceh troops in 1877. He was known as generaal een-oog
(one-eyed general) by his troops and setan seblah mata
(one-eyed demon) by his Acehnese opponents.
He strengthened Koetaradja's defences and secured the road between Koetaradja and Oelee-Lhee. On 29 June 1878, he launced an attack from Koetaradja, successfully capturing strategic Glitaroenpass, leading to the capture of Montasik plains, the stronghold of Acehnese guerilla leader Panglima Polim. By the end of his tenure in 1880, van der Heyden had secured tenuos Dutch control over most of Groot-Atjeh, the area surrounding Koetaradja (now Aceh Besar district).
Among the important leaders of Acehnese resistance in this early part of the war is Tengku Chik di Tiro
, an Islamic cleric who led Acehnese contingent from Pidie in the fighting around Koetaradja. He declared jihad
, holy war against infidel Dutch invaders who had burnt the Baiturrahman mosque, centre of Acehnese Islam. He decreed the war a perang sabil
, in which Acehnese killed by the Dutch would be assured a place in paradise. In 1876, he presided over the re-coronation of the child Sultan Muhammad Daud in Indrapoeri Mosque as symbol of the continuation of Acehnese sultanate.
Militarily, he launched unsuccessful seaborne attacks on Breueh and Nasi islands off Koetaradja in 1880, attempting to disturb Dutch sea supply routes. In May 1881, he successfully assaulted the Dutch fort at Lambaro, Groot Atjeh. In 1891, an Acehnese under the pay of the Dutch killed Chik di Tiro by poisoning his food.Habib Abdoerrachman Al-Zahir
, a Turkish cleric, travelled to Turkey to gather support for Aceh from the Ottoman Empire, the chief Muslim state at the time; to Singapore where he met United States consul; and to Penang where he promised the British the island of Sabang if they would help Aceh against the Dutch.
Failing in his efforts, Habib Abdoerrachman surrendered to the Dutch at Koetaradja on July 1878, secured an annual subsidy of $500 from the Dutch government, then sailed back to Istanbul where he died in 1902. Tjoet Nja Dhien
(1850-1908), a famous female guerilla leader from Lampisang, just west of Koetaradja. She first led a unit under her father, Nanta Setia
and husband, Teuku Ibrahim
in the successful fighting in 1870s. In 1881 her husband was killed in a battle, whereby she married her cousin Teuku Umar
, another guerilla leader.Teuku Umar
(1854-1899), leader of contingent from West Aceh in fighting around Koetaradja. His father Mahmoed is the brother of Nanta Setia, father of Tjoet Nja Dhien whom he married in 1884. After ten years as effective guerilla leader against the Dutch, Teuku Umar surrendered to the Dutch on 30 September 1893, receiving the title Teuku Djohan Pahlawan
, "Lord Hero-Winner" and substantial amount of guns and ammunition to help the Dutch fight other insurgents.
Teuku Umar (sitting left), partially wearing Dutch uniform.
In 1896, Teuku Umar abandoned the Dutch, carrying off 880 rifles, 25000 bullets, 500 kg of explosives, 5000 kg of lead balls, and $18000 worth of cash
back to the jungles.
This extraordinary exploit send shockwaves all the way to The Netherlands. A popular poem was sung by the Dutch:Teuku Umar die moet hangen
Aan en touw, aan en touw
Teuku Umar en zijn vrouw
meaningTeuku Umar must be hanged
On the rope, on the rope
Teuku Umar and his wife!
Upon hearing Teuku Umar's deed, Queen Wilhelmina and Dowager Emma send a telegram to Dutch commander in Koetaradja demanding they recover the lost honour inflicted on the name of The Netherlands.
Three years later, on 11 February 1899, Teuku Umar and his 800 men was ambushed by 20 men of special Marechausse
troops near Meulaboh, West Aceh. Umar was shot in the chest and died days later in front of his wife, Tjoet Nja Dhien.
Dutch memorial on the site of Teuku Umar's fall on February 1899
Tjoet Nja Dhien and Pang Laot after her capture.
Tjoet Nja Dhien continued guerilla warfare in West Aceh area, assited by Pang Laot
. Years of living in the jungle caused her to go blind and she also suffered rheumatism, yet she refused to surrender. On 16 October 1905, Pang Laot, unable to let Tjoet Nja Dhien suffered anymore, led a Dutch Marechausse
squad under Luitenant Van Vuuren
to her hideout. She was arrested and exiled to West Java, where she died in 1908.