On May 13, 1870, an attack was made on Sibu
fort’ 2 by a force of some 3000 Kanowit Dayaks under the
noted chief, Lintong or Mua-ari. Sibu fort, which is
situated on an island, was then in the charge of Mr. H.
Skelton, 3 with Mr. H. Brooke Low as his assistant, and was
manned by a force of about thirteen Sepoys. Mr. Skelton
had been frequently warned of the impending attack, but
gave no credit to these warnings, and would allow no extra
arms to be loaded. That very evening, during dinner-time,
a noted Dayak chief, Unggat, had come in to inform
Mr. Skelton that the place was to be attacked. Mr.
Skelton was angry at being interrupted during his meal,
and vowed, that if no assault was made, the man should be
imprisoned. When the place eventually was attacked, the
chief paced up and down in the fort and would take no
part in the defence.
It was the custom of the Sepoys to go out by the back-
door before daybreak to perform their ceremonial ablutions,
and of this the Dayaks were aware, and lay in wait about
the exit to surprise them. But the Sepoys were on their
guard, and the door was not opened. The Dayaks then
attacked the fort in force, endeavouring to cut their way
in with axes, but they were beaten off. Amongst the
1 The last in 1902.
2 Built in 1863, when it became the Government headquarters in the Rejang.
Sibu is the most important provincial town, and has a revenue larger than that of
8 Henry Skelton, joined 1866, died in 1873, immediately after being appointed
Resident of Sarawak.
324 A HISTORY OF SARAWAK
killed was Lintong’s eldest son, a boy who had been the
inseparable companion of Mr. J. B. Cruickshank, the
Resident of the Rejang, who was then at home on leave.
The Sepoys behaved well, and had to be restrained
from going out to fight the Davaks in the open. Had the
fort been taken, the Chinese quarters and the Malay villages
would have fallen an easy prey to the Dayaks, and a general
massacre would have ensued, as the attack was timed to take
place when all the able-bodied Malays were away on their
TORT BROOKE, SIBU
(The Forts at Bintulu, Muka, and Kapit, are similar. I
farms. This is the sole occasion on which an out-station
fort has been attacked in force, and it revealed to the naked
savages the fact that with their primitive weapons it was
futile making such an attempt, except by surprise. But
indeed, on this occasion, a surprise was intended.
Lintong, the troublesome son of a troublesome father,
had been a constant head-hunter, and, before the establish-
ment of the station at Sibu, a scourge to the Melanaus
living in the delta of the Rejang. He had before attempted
to surprise Kanowit fort, and it was from his spear that
Mr. Steele had had a narrow escape. He had, however,
fought on the side of the Government in former days ; and,
THE BEGINNING OF THE SECOND STAGE 325
subsequent to the attack on Sibu, after having been deprived
of his liberty for some time, he again became a supporter
of the Government, and eventually a Pengulu. He died
of snake bite in September, 1887.