The Battle of Ampang

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The First Attack on Kuala Lumpur (September-October 1870):
The Battle of Ampang

Chong Chong who had personal grievances against Yap Ah Loy had entered into an alliance with Syed Mashhor. They had started collecting men, provisions, and materials for the purpose of attacking Kuala Lumpur. News of this alliance reached Yap Ah Loy in June. He immediately got in touch with the Viceroy, Tunku Kudin, who was at Klang and at the same time increased the recruitment of his forces. His brother Yap Tet Fong, was sent to Singapore to engage men and buy arms, ammunition and provisions. Chung Piang and Hiu Fatt (two of his most able panglimas) were appointed local recruiting agents. By the end of September that year, they had recruited well over 1,000 men.

By 12 September 1870, Chong Chong and his army had arrived at Sa Phiang (Ampang Road 4th Mile) and had encamped there. It is believed that the exact camp should have been near the present village of Batu Ampat. There they built a well-fortified position, defended by bamboo stockades. Meanwhile, Mashhor’s men remained at Ulu Klang. The disposition of the camps, and the subsequent course of the fighting suggests that Chong Chong and his allies had intended to attack from the north side of Kuala Lumpur. Chong Chong and Mashhor began with a force of about 400 troops. While they encamped in Ampang, it is said that the number of troops had further swelled to a few thousand, largely due to the joining in of local militia. Through this account it is believed that Chong Chong’s army was well over 2,500 men. Kapitan Yap is said to have fewer, about 2,000 men (in addition to the Malays who joined him later under the leadership of Raja Asal and Sutan Puasa).

Shields used by Malay warriors.
(from the Selangor State Museum)

Kapitan Yap directed the fighting from Kuala Lumpur and did not take to the field himself. As soon as he learnt that Chong Chong was digging himself in near Ampang, he sent a force of 600 men under Hiu Fatt and Tung Khoon to Ulu Klang with the intention of cutting Chong Chong's line of retreat and threatening the right flank of his position. Immediately after arriving at Ulu Klang, Hiu Fatt’s men established contact with Mashhor’s contingent. The next day, they started to attack Mashhor’s army. Fighting began at about 10 or 11 in the morning and lasted until late in the afternoon. By then, Mashhor’s men were routed and suffered heavy losses. Mashhor himself made his way to Chong Chong’s camp near Batu Ampat and suggested an immediate counter-attack, before Kapitan Yap’s men could consolidate their postion. Chong Chong agreed with the proposal, and on the same night, he led a force of about 2,000 men (from the combined force) towards Ulu Klang. 

In the meantime, Hiu Fatt and Tung Khoon had returned to their improvised camp at Ulu Klang. During the night, much to the surprised of Hiu Fatt and his men, they were woken up by sounds of firearms and shouting, and discovered that Mashhor’s force were in front of their position. Without hesitation, Hiu Fatt immediately gave orders for a direct attack to be made on the enemy. While the fighting was in progress, Chong Chong’s army emerged from the rear of Hiu Fatt's position (presumably along the north flank of Bukit Dinding and down the valley of the Sungei Gisir), thus Hiu Fatt and his men were trapped between two larger units of enemy forces.

Fortunately, Kapitan Yap had decided that evening to reinforce his troops at Ulu Klang, and had sent Chung Piang with 400 men to Hiu Fatt's camp. They arrived in the middle of the battle, and presumably at the rear of Chong Chong’s encircling force. After a long struggle, Chong Chong was forced to retreat to his stockade at Ampang. The Kapitan's force lost 40 men with another 100 wounded, but Chong Chong's force suffered heavier losses.

At this stage Kapitan Yap realized that the men at his disposal were not sufficient to dislodge Chong Chong and Mashhor from their positions in Ampang. He decided to ask Raja Asal, who was at Damansara, for help. Raja Asal responded immediately and joined the three Chinese leaders at Ulu Klang. After consultation, it was agreed that they would move their combined forces down the valley to take up positions opposite Chong Chong’s stockade. On learning this, Chong Chong proposed to Syed Mashhor that they should harass the Kapitan’s fighters before they could settle down in their new positions. Daily skirmishes therefore took place and continued for about a month with varying success but without definite results.

The Kapitan further dispatched another 600 men to Chung Piang to reinforce the troops there. This force consisted of 400 Malay fighters under Sutan Puasa and 200 Chinese fighters under Ten Sam. On their arrival in Ampang, they adopted the following plan:

  • Raja Asal and Sutan Puasa together with their men will watch the outlet to Ulu Klang and to strike at the enemy's rear when opportunity arises.
  • Ten Sam with 300 of Kapitan's men will defend Sungei Puteh.
  • Hiu Fatt and Tung Khoon with 500 men will open up the attack on Chong Chong's position.
  • Chung Piang with the remaining men will follow up Hiu Fatt at the proper time.

The forces had encircled Chong Chong's position, but they left two outlets uncovered. Kapitan Yap could have devised the strategy of “Don’t force a dog over the wall” knowing that the main purpose of this attack was to dislodge Chong Chong’s camp in Ampang as well as not to let him retreat to any strategic position that can in future threaten Kuala Lumpur. Hiu Fatt and Tung Khoon were attacking from the west, along the line of the present road from Kuala Lumpur to Ampang. Raja Asal and Sutan Puasa to the north-east prevented a retreat to Ulu Klang, while the small force under Ten Sam covered the way over to Ulu Langat.

The battle began at about 10 in the morning; an early start never seemed to have been popular. By the late afternoon Chong Chong’s forces were routed with the loss of more than 500 men. This was due to the fact that he could not defend both directions. Many of his men became wounded from the fight. By nightfall Chong Chong and Syed Mashhor realized that they had been beaten, thus they fled in the direction of Batu Caves by way of Gonggang (Setapak). The defeat was described by Hiu Fatt (writen by Lee Ke Nan) as:

“The dead bodies of men and horses lay in piles in the waste, and blood was flowing like streams. Both had the intense hatred for the defeat …..”

From Batu Caves, Mashhor made his escape to Ulu Selangor, and Chong Chong to Kuala Langat. Having won the Battle of Ampang, Chung Piang gave orders to break up the camp and returned to Kuala Lumpur. On his arrival, he was welcomed by Voon Siew and was brought to the hall of the Kapitan’s residence. Voon Siew was asked by the Kapitan to reward the surviving fighters suitably, and make arrangements for the wounded.


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This page was last modified on September 12, 2000