Impression of the Defeat of the Dutch Forces – Its Significance.

The correspondent of the Pall Mall Gazeth at The Hague, writing on April 22, says that the defeat of the Dutch forces in Sumatra is regarded as a crushing calamity. The leading Opposition paper asserts that Dutch prestige and influence in the East are at an end. The general conviction in that the local authorities in the East acted too precipitately in declaring war against Acheen, while in utter ignorance of the conditions under which the war would have to be conducted. This is proved by the face that hostilities began only a few weeks before the bad season, when, as every one in India knows, military operations are impossible.

The India Government, as well as the military authorities, evidently expected to meet an enemy who would easily be overcome by a handful of well-trained troops, and they found that the Acheenese were a brave people, well armed, provided with excellent artillery, and commanded by skillful leaders. From the fact that the Dutch Commander-in-Chief was killed so early in the fight, it is supposed that the Dutch troops were discouraged by the unexpected resistance they met with, so that Gen.Köhler was obliged to encourage his men by his personal example, and thus lest his valuable life. But, of course, this is only a supposition. Up to this moment nothing is known except what the telegrams have stated, and it is feared that these do not tell the whole truth. The opposition papers content that the effective resistance of the Acheenese is due to English influence. The breech-loaders with which the Acheenese were armed, the guns of the newest fashion, and the men who served them must, it is thought, have been imported from Penang and Singapore. The English diplomatists, these papers say, knew when they concluded with us a treaty which, in exchange for the transfer of our settlements on the West coast of Africa, laid us under the obligation to protect the foreign trade in Acheen, that within a short delay this protecture would lead to a war between Holland and Acheen. Acheen, about which the Dutch knew nothing, and about which they cared little, was in due time to be armed, in order that the first blow should be given to the prestige of the Dutch in India. This is the exaggerated reasoning of the Opposition papers, while the Liberal ones say nothing except soothing words, and point out the fact that the Acheen ports remain blockaded.

To-day the members of the Second Chamber meet, and the opinion is that the Ministry will at once be questioned it M. Fransen van de Putte does not give ample information. It is unneceasary to add that if the Minister cannot defend himself against the accusation of having acted imprudently by undertaking a war with a native State just before the rainy season, there will soon be a Ministerial crisis, which will lead to recall of the Governor-General of the Dutch possessions in the East Indies.

Published: May 10, 1873
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