Op welke wijze gaven Nederlandse legercommandanten, zoals Hendrik Merkus de Kock, vorm aan de militaire oorlogsvoering op de eilanden Java en Sumatra? Op welke toch vaak agressieve wijze wisten zij de strijd te dirigeren voor het stichten van een koloniaal rijk in wat uiteindelijk Nederlands-Indië zou worden. Middels onderzoek probeert dhr. Folkerts in zijn studie Officieren in de archipel daar antwoorden op te vinden, die lang genegeerd zijn in de Nederlandse militaire geschiedschrijving. Het is zelfs een oproep voor verder onderzoek! Aandacht nu dan voor de Java- en Padri oorlogen.
Hendrik Merkus de Kock
Hoewel de studie verder geheel Nederlandstalig is, schrijft dhr. Folkerts ter inleiding het volgende: "This paper explores the source material of several Dutch officers in the Netherlands-Indies Army (Nederlands-Indisch Leger, NIL) in an attempt to discover the Dutch strategy employed during the Padri War on Sumatra (1821-1837) and the Java War (1825-1830). Most studies of these wars conclude that the Dutch command lacked any form of central strategic planning, and that most strategic choices were made by officers in the field. Most scholars further state that the available source material is insufficient to conduct research into the choices made by these officers, and that is there for hardly possible to determine the Dutch strategy. This paper aims to fill the existing gap in scholarly knowledge, by analysing the sources which are left behind by commanding officers. The most important recommendation of this paper is to encourage scholars to dive deeper into the archives of officers, which are, instead of lacking, easily accessible at the National Archives in The Hague. The sources tell fascinating stories about the officers, who had to fight the climate, disease and cultural differences as well as their enemies. In the Java War, lieutenant-general Hendrik Merkus de Kock lead the Dutch war effort almost from the beginning till the end, during which he employed many strategies to overcome his adversary, prince Dipo Negoro. His Javanese troops proved to be an enormous challenge, since their rapid raids and ambushes with seemingly archaic weapons were very difficult to counter for the Dutch troops, which were used to a completely different kind of war."
"The Padri’s of Sumatra formed no lesser challenge, because of their Islamic fanaticism and their ability to construct almost impregnable fortifications. During the sixteen years the Dutch needed to win this war, command switched six times; no one seemed to have a winning solution for the war. Two of these commanding officers, Hubert de Stuers and Cornelis Elout, used two very different strategies; the former used good defences and diplomacy to maintain the Dutch power in the area, while the latter used aggressive manoeuvres and sieges to break the power of the Padri’s. The contrast between these two is an interesting subject of study. After the analysis and comparison of these three officers, the lack of central strategy has to be confirmed; every officer could use his own strategy to reach the goals he set himself, and was hardly controlled by the central government. However, this paper makes steps into two other areas who could use more scholarly attention; the Padri War itself is an almost unexplored area of research, certainly for Dutch historians, and this paper aims more generally to introduces its readers into an era of aggressive Dutch military action. This last point is not well represented in the national history of the Netherlands, and hopefully the average Dutch reader becomes more conscious of the aggressive imperialism which is a bigger part of Dutch history than is usually accepted."
In 2016 publiceerde dhr. J. Folkerts zijn masterscriptie (Universiteit van Amsterdam), getiteld Officieren in de archipel: Nederlandse opperbevelhebbers tijdens de oorlogen op Java en Sumatra, 1821-1837.