The army of the Dutch was camped in the rice fields of Derma; this fertile plain stretches between a dense forest and the small town of Bangil, which was fortified fortified and prevented any further passage.
A heavy difficult period had the united army of the Dutch, and Madureezen Soerabayers endure.
The road passed over the damp, swampy bottom of the Delta of the Kalimas or Brantas River, which, moreover, was watered by numerous river branches which the army had to ford or bridge; the severe heat, the noxious fumes from the ground, the lack of water, and almost provisions of provisions soon put the army in a deplorable condition.
At the village of Penangungan the enemy lay behind a bulwark, the commander Knol succeeded in driving him out from here, [ 232 ]after he had made some bridges with the greatest possible effort over the rivers which lay in front of them.
However, instead of raising the spirits of this victory among the men, the mood grew more and more mournful; With difficulty they marched on early in the morning, the number of sick people kept increasing, the burden bearers, Javanese coolies of the least kind, always threw their luggage on the ground and then started to run, with force one had to push them forward. force. The warlike troops of all the peoples of the Archipelago, who for a few days had left Surabaya, with flying banners and beating drums, had turned into an unsightly, ragged mass of people, dragging themselves with difficulty under the scorching sunbeams.
But what broke all their courage, and took away all desire to fight and advance, was the suspicion that they were being deliberately led astray into an ambush; with suspicion both the Dutch and the Madurese looked at the proud regent of Surabaya, who led an army of cowards with his three brothers; as soon as the moment of battle came, these heroes threw themselves to the ground and refused to advance; moreover, it was believed that the monarch sent daily messengers to Soerapati to inform him of all that was going on in the Company army.
With great difficulty the heavy artillery was dragged through all kinds of ditches, swamps and small rivers, over half-flooded rice fields, until a large forest had to be cut down. Finally they came to the rice fields of Derma. Here a portion of the army that had been sent ahead to force their way through the next forest was attacked by the enemy, and like the companies among the dashing[ 233 ]Captain de Bevere, who were sent out to their dismay, were badly beaten.
About 140 men were killed by enemies scarcely half the number; it was again the horsemen of the Depati Surabaya who had been the cause of this defeat.
Great despondency reigned in the Dutch camp after this unfortunate incident; the porters could not be moved to advance, however driven and even beaten, until a pagger was erected on either side of the road in their defense; this, of course, took a great deal of time, an expensive time indeed, as the rainy season was approaching and the misery would be incalculable should the army be surprised by the bad season amid these swamps and rivers flowing over their beds.
The tents of the Dutch army chief were in the middle, those of the Madurese Panombahan on the left and those of Depati Soerabaya on the right; Mr. Knol had kept an open table for as long as he could, but now the provisions were exhausted, officers and men had to prolong their lives only with a little dry rice and miserable water.
No one was more dejected than Mr. Valentijn, who felt more and more sickly, and who valued the condition of his body quite a bit more than the sad prospect that awaited the Company army; he recorded all the fortunes of this journey as accurately as all the different eras passed through his body.
The time the enemies needed to advance slowly, for they spent 12 days to advance 1½ miles, Surapati used to complete the defense of Bangil; behind two layers of channels are reinforcements over a large, somewhat inwardly curved line, the right – and left-hand working[ 234 ]jumped forward a little, while the line was still reinforced by cats in seven places.
Behind these ramparts lay the town of Bangil: by now the Dutch had with great difficulty erected five strongholds, which were to serve to attack the enemy in five places at once.
The storm began at six-thirty on the morning of October 16; the Panombahan and his Madurese attacked the fortress on the left, the captains van der Hout and Bintang in the front, the Soerabayers supported by captain de Bevere on the right.
The fight ignited from both sides; under the heavy gunfire of the enemy the Company army advanced; no one, however, ventured as far as Captain de Bevere, who had to erase his defeat of a few days; he was the first to climb the enemy rampart without using a storm ladder. When he disappeared, knocked down by an enemy pike, the commander thought he had been killed, and sent another captain to replace him, but almost immediately he was seen again ashore, where he undauntedly planted his standard; the spike had struck only the tassel of his sash, and he had fallen into his keeper’s arms.
Captain van der Hout also performed miracles of bravery, eighty of his men had been shot through the cracks of the bamboos of the pagger and great defeat drove the troops to flee, but the captain tore the saber from its sheath and put himself at the head of his men. and threatened to slay anyone who fled. This helped, in a few moments he drove the enemy from this post as well.
The Madurese were well on this day; knocking on a small gong, eighty-year-old Panombahan gave the signal to[ 235 ]the attack; three times they were beaten back, and each time they renewed the attack, until the fourth time they were supported by the general Knol himself, master of this place.
Only the Sourabayers fought more in appearance than in reality, they struck with their pikes against those of the enemy as if it were a mirror fight, and they always showed a desire to flee from the captured points if Captain Sergeant had not forcibly driven them back into the fire.
Desperately the enemy had defended itself; as long as he could he fired at the attackers. Surapati himself was in command; he seemed to be everywhere at once where his troops began to recoil, he put himself at their head and led them back into battle.
For an hour the attack lasted and still the chance was not decided, each time the attackers were beaten back, when suddenly a loud howl rose from the ranks of the besieged. They had seen their leader fall; a hand grenade, which exploded beside him, had wounded him in the shoulder. He straightened up, swung his peak over his head, and cried aloud:
“It’s nothing, I’m not hurt! Forward, forward!… ”
Once more he was about to advance and with the fire which he could impart only to his men, to revive them, when he suddenly collapsed; he had also received a wound in the side, which he did not even feel, but which was nevertheless fatal.
Lembono, his son, rushed to raise it up.
“Let me be taken away, put yourself at their head, that they may not notice,” he commanded.
But the mourning spread like wild fire through the army, an indescribable terror reigned everywhere, everyone lost heart, and soon the Company’s troops were determined victors; [ 236 ]Bangil, the key to the enemy land, was now conquered, and nothing now seemed more appropriate than that the victorious army should continue its march toward Pasuruan.
This seemed to be expected by the defenders and inhabitants of Bangil, for everything quickly fled, but in the enemy camp it was decided otherwise. Heavy showers poured over their heads, the roads were not known and the Depati was trusted less than ever, the diseases took away many soldiers, food and drink were lacking, the condition of the officers was already miserable, how much more must that of the soldiers be. ; moreover, they knew nothing of Soerapati’s serious injury.
Old Panombahan strongly advised against continuing the campaign, and the Depati took the harepath with his troops when word came that the enemy was preparing to attack Surabaya.
All these considerations and facts made the Commander Knol decide not to continue the journey but to return to Surabaya; he committed the unforgivable mistake of leaving the points won with so much effort unoccupied.
They thought they had done enough for this year.