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Java Expedition 1811

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This article was originally one of a set of memoranda available only on paper in The National Archives' reading rooms. It acted as a signpost to records of interest on a particular historical subject. It may have been compiled many years ago and could be out of date. Please feel free to edit this page to improve the information

By 1810 the threat of a direct French attack on mainland India had passed, but the danger still lay in the Indian Ocean. From French and Dutch possessions, privateers could prey on British trade which at this time mainly consisted of East India Company Vessels (East Indiamen).

The Governor General of India, Lord Minto, launched colonial expeditions successfully in 1810 against the French islands of Bourbon and Mauritius and the Dutch islands of Amboyna and Banda. Java remained under Dutch control but Napoleon viewed it as an ideal military cenre from which to attack British settlements. Accordingly defences were increased and the seat of government and the military headquarters were moved from Batavia inland to fortified positions. The Dutch General Janssens had under his control a force of 17,000.

Lord Minto left India in April 1811 with a force of nearly 12,000 troops in a fleet of over 25 ships. The fleet was commanded by Rear Admiral Robert Stopford and the troops, British and Indians, commanded by Lieutenant Generald Sir Samuel Auchmuty. The landings took place on 4 August at Chillinching, ten miles from Batavia. The defending troops put up little resistance and soon fell back. Batavia surrendered on 8 August and proved a poor prize, the city was virtually empty.

Next to fall was the Dutch military station at Weltevreeden. British losses did not exceed 100 while the enemy lost over 300. Survivors fell back to the heavily defended camp at Cornelis. Weltevreeden proved an ideal base from which to lay siege to the enemy at Cornelis. On 21 August the enemy launched a limited attack and managed to sieze three artillery batteries for a short time, until they were driven back by men of the Bengal Sepoys and the 69th Regiment of Foot.

Under cover of darkness on 24 August the British forces attacked the enemy redoubts surrounding the fort. The fighting was fierce and casualties were high on both sides, the French resorting to demolish one of their redoubts by blowing up the magazine. Gradually the British forces formed up around Fort Cornelis and the defenders abandoned their positions and fled, persued by Dragoons. Prisoners taken numbered nearly 6000 and included two Generals. Enemy casualties exceeded 2000, British casualties numbered just over 1000.

Several small actions followed until the surrender was signed in mid-September. The East India Company entrusted the administration of Java to Stamford Raffles until the Treaty of Paris in 1815 resulted in the return to the Dutch.


LIST OF SHIPS

  • HMS:- Scipon (Flagship), Akbar, Barracouta, Bucephalus, Caroline, Cornelia, Dasher, Doris, Harpy, Hecate, Hesper, Hussar, Illustrious, Leda, Lion, Minden, Modeste, Nisus, Phaeton, Phobe, Presidente, Procris, Psyche, Samarange, Sir Francis Drake.
  • HEI:- Ariel, Aurora, Malabar, Mornington, Nautilus Psyche, Thetis, Vestal.


LIST OF REGIMENTS

  • 22 Light Dragoons, 14 Foot, 59 Foot, 69 Foot, 78 Foot, 89 Foot, 102 Foot, Madras Sepoys and Bengal Native Infantry.


DOCUMENT REFERENCES

Catalogu Ref. Document Title
WO 1/364 Conquest of Java, 1811
WO 1/365 (27) Conquest of Java, observations by Rear Admiral Stopford, 1811
WO 1/365 (47,163, 164) Java, East India Company's administration
WO 1/367 (293) Java, resident duties, 1812
WO 1/367 (35) Java, sale of Government lands, 1812
WO 1/367 (1, 453, 539-555) Restoration of Java to the Dutch
WO 3/67 (313) Restoration of Java to the Dutch
WO 3/610 (278) Restoration of Java to the Dutch
WO 44/65 Account by Captain Napier R A on Java Expedition, 1812