National Geographic : 1898 Nov
SUMA TRA'S WEST COAST the tropics-it is no wonder that cases of insomnia are frequent and insanity one of the most dreaded of results. There are no more touching instances to be found of self-sacrifice than those of the wives of Dutch officers in Achin, who prefer short lives with their husbands under such uncomfortable conditions to long lives at home in snug little Holland. On our return to Kota Radja we were shown through the truly wonderful army hospital, where patients both civil and military are cared for, and where, between April 24 and Decem ber 24 of 1896, 1,265 cases of wounded men and several thousand civilians and soldiers, for diseases other than those arising from wounds, were treated. The minor cases were treated in the hos pitals of the various forts, and when we take into consideration the heavy per cent of deaths we get an idea of the serious nature of the fighting. One corner was occupied by the cholera huts temporary structures which are burned after each patient is treated and buried-for, according to the commanding surgeon's statement, no real cases of Asiatic cholera have, in his experience, yielded to treatment. Achinese, Dutch, or Malay soldiers are faithfully treated, and though the Achinese, as soon as well and free, sometimes escape and return to their people to fight against the Dutch, when picked up as wounded prisoners they receive as careful treatment as though they were loyal subjects. Leaving Oleh-leh late that night after a charming experience of Dutch hospitality, we anchored next morning off Segli, con sidered the most dangerous benteng or fort in Sumatra. Later in the day we landed at Telok Semawe, a fort further down the coast, protected by a most formidable series of high barbed-wire fences and agave. There was an air about these blockhouses or bentengs reminding one forcibly of the Indian blockhouses of our forefathers, and should we see fit to undertake the control of such an archipelago as the Philippines, the training of our reg ulars as Indian fighters would come into excellent play, though the races there are perhaps not comparably as stubborn as these long, lithe muscular Achinese. The trip from Telok Semawe to Penang was uneventful, and both my friend and I felt that in seeing this corner of the world our eyes had been opened to a war of more importance than we had either of us dreamed of finding there, and to the beauties of an island which has probably no equal for tropical beauty and grandeur in the world.