Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Battle of Kota Lama, Perak, 1876

Kota Lama, on the Perak River just north of Kuala Kangsar, was the scene of one of the last military engagements of the Perak War, on January 4th 1876. A force of 32 officers and men of the Naval Brigade, 100 Buffs, 40 Gurkhas, supported by 24-pounder rockets and 7-pounder guns, were ambushed and came to close quarters with a force of Malays and forced to retreat, losing two men speared to death. The account below is from  "Perak and the Malays: 'Sarong' and 'Kris' " by Major Frederick McNair (1878).

Among the principal events of the Perak War was the attack upon Kotah Lamah a place that had long been noted as a resort for the worst characters, and freebooters of the vilest description. In fact, Mr. Birch, during one of his visits was threatened by the people with loaded guns. 

On the arrival of the troops at Qualla Kungsa these people were not openly hostile. The acts of the head men of the place however at last called for interference; and as it became necessary to make an example of the village before the departure of the troops, it was determined to disarm the people. For this purpose a small force was sent up the river beyond Qualla Kungsa, and the demand for arms to be given up was acceded to on being made by Captain Speedy ; but armed men were seen rushing off, in two or three instances, to the jungle. 

Kota Lama today
The military force made their way right through the campong and back without being opposed ; and after this General Boss and his party landed at the middle of the village, and were searching the various houses to see that they contained none but women and children, when, under cover of a brisk fire, well maintained from the jungle, they were assailed by a body of fifty or sixty spear-armed Malays, who had been hidden amongst the trees. These men suddenly rushed out, and nearly succeeded in surrounding the little party, which had to retire fighting as they went, the marines and sailors maintaining a most gallant front till the river was reached. 

Shortly before this several officers had gone in the direction of the river, and Major Hawkins is supposed to have been following them when he received a frightful spear wound, the blade passing right through his chest. A sailor named Sloper ran to his help, and shot two Malays who were running up to continue the attack, when Major Hawkins is reported to have exclaimed : "Save yourself, you can do me no good now." The officers who had gone on towards the river now returned, and tried to move him, but they were compelled in turn to fall back towards the river, Surgeon Townsend being the first to be assailed by three Malays with spears. One he shot with his revolver, but the man struck him down in falling, and his two companions dashed in to spear him, when they were bayoneted by a couple of the seamen. This engagement was successful, however, from the fact that, large quantity of arms were taken, including lelahs and a 12-pounder iron gun, which was spiked and thrown into the river. 

Far from being disconcerted by their losses, the people of Kotah Lamah began soon after erecting stockades, and were guilty of so many lawless acts, that the Governor finally decided that a severe chastisement should be inflicted upon them, and for this purpose he consulted with General Colborne. The consequence was that a further expedition was arranged to be carried out against the Kotah Lamah people, the great body of whom had now gone farther up the river, to the two villages of Enggar and Prek; and this expedition was somewhat Lurried by an appeal for help which came from Eajah Muda Yusuf, whose people had been attacked by a body of the Kotah Lainah people, under Toh Sri Lela, their chief. This party was driven off by some of the Ghoorkhas, but unfortunately two of Rajah Yusuf's friendly Malays were killed and two wounded by mistake. 

The Enggor River, with the Perak River in the distance
The next day our forces were sent up the river to Enggar, where the Malays opened fire from two or three lelahs (cannon), but after a short and sharp return fire they were effectually driven out of their village. A portion of the force was then directed to bivouac in the village for the night, and then move forward and attack Prek, to which place Toh Sri Lela and his followers had fled. Here, the next day, the enemy were again driven out, making a precipitate retreat, a result which, when achieved, was followed by the return of our troops to Qualla Kungsa, the power of the Kotah Lamah chief being completely broken. 


Unknown said...

assalamualaikum wbt tuan. per kabor. nama saya mohd nor amin b zainuddin dr kuala kangsar. sy berminat dengan kisah pertempuran kota lama ini dan berminat untuk share di page fb saya dengan kredit dr blog tuan. kalau diizinkan sy ingin transelate ke bahasa melayu juga. semoga dengan ini kisah ini dapat dikongsi dengan lebih luas lg untuk pengetahuan anak tempatan

Sabri Zain said...

Saudara, memang saya menggalakkan sesiapapun untuk menterjemahkan dan berkongsi maklumat ini. Sila beritahu saya jika saudara memerlukan maklumat lanjut tentang pertempuran ini.