Greek War of Independence



Battles in Moreas - 1821

Ilias Mavromichalis or Mpeizantes

In the early days of the revolution Kolokotronis had marched triumphantly through cheering crowds, but in the following weeks few things went right for him. After Kalamata events, he headed north to Karitena with Nikitas Stamatelopoulos, maniat Ilias Mavromichalis, Plapoutas brothers, Kanellos Deligiannis, Papaflessas, Anagnostaras. Karytena was an isolated village on a rocky outcrop in the central Peloponnese, with an old byzantine castle over it. Turks were besieged in the castle by some thousands half armed Greeks. When, 30 March 2000 enemy soldiers with 700 cavalry reached Karitena from Tripolitsa all Greeks fled. It is true that only the name Tourkoi, caused terror to poor Greeks who for over 400 years of slavery were used to obey orders like good rayas and with exception of the klephts the villagers had no idea how to use a rifle. They needed the first victory, to acquire self-confidence. Kolokotronis was left alone and when he was asked to leave he said: 'I am not coming. I sit in these mountains where the birds know me', Papaflessas ordered a young soldier to be with Kolokotronis 'Stay with him, so that the wolves don't devour him.' Kolokotronis stayed alone. And as he quotes to his memoirs 'I was left alone, I and my horse at Chrysovitsi. I descended the hill until I came to the Panaghia, church dedicated to Blessed Mary, and there I wept for Hellas and I cried: Holy Virgin! Help us now and give Hellenes courage.' Indeed it was Orthodox faith which helped Hellenes to survive.

Kolokotronis' task was to build an army in the central Moreas. But the men had as weapons knives, spits and very few carried guns. Most of them were unexperienced. During ottoman occupation no rayas had the right to ride a horse or to have weapons. Only klephts, who lived in mountains, were experts in the war and the armatoloi. Armatoloi had for centuries been hired by the local turkish authorities, initially to guard the mountain passes and later for the genral maintenance of law and order. Armatoloi were also Romioi and many times there was any distinction between law-breaking klephts and law-enforcing armatoloi. Great armatoloi were Odysseas Androutsos and Georgios Karaiskakis. Now armatoloi and klephtes were the main armed forces against the oppressor. Their favoured method of attack was to hit the enemy creating havoc and then leave. Klephtopolemos was the method most trusted by Greeks to defeat the Turks. 'Klepht never wakes up to the place where he fell to sleep.' This was the rule of klephts and this meant that all the time they ran away, even during the night. During April 1821, the Greek forces in the area around Tripolitsa were slowly augmented by men from the nearby villages and Kolokotronis was recognised as the man for overall command Archistratigos. Armed camps were established near the villages Levidhi, Piana, Chrisovitsi, Vervena, Valtesti.

The newly appointed governor of Morea kehagias of Hursit, Mustafabey reached Tripolis with 3500 Turkoalbanians, May 1821. Greek captains had fortified 4 tower houses in Valtetsi. Kyriakoulis Mavromichalis with 120 men defended one tower. Ilias Mavromichalis with Grigorios (Papaflessas) and Nikitas Dikeos defended the second one with 250 men, Ioannes Mavromichalis, Papatsonis, Kefalas, Mitropetrovas with 350 men were in the third tower and Tsalafatinos with 80 men stayed in the last one. Other camps were in Chrisovitsi with Papadiamantopoulos, in Piana with Plapoutas and in Vervena with Giatrakos. Kolokotronis was everywhere.'I slept at Valtetsi, dined at Piana and supped in Chrisovitsi.' On 12 May, Mustafabey attacked Valtetsi, while a small force was to move behind Valtetsi to cut off the Greeks' expected flight. Against turkish expectations, Greeks did not flee and maintained their positions. The turkish cavalry was useless when trying to attack on rocky slopes. The batlle continued 23 hours. Then Rumpis, one general of turks retreats and the whole turkish army started to run away. The enemy lost 800 men while Greeks had few losses. The battle of Valtetsi was the first serious victory and Greeks gained self-confidence and courage to continue their struggle. Kolokotronis according to his memoirs said to his compatriots: 'We must render up thanksgivings for this day, which should be kept holy for ever, as the day upon which our country achieved her freedom'. Nikitas Stamatelopoulos

In Tripolitsa, turks had a meeting and decided to move to Vervena and from there to attack to Mystas. In their way stood the village Doliana, where was Nikitas Stamatelopoulos, nephew of Theodoros Kolokotronis, with 120 men. He found himself trapped and he and his men fortified hastily some houses inside the village. In this battle Greeks had no way out and fought so bravely that even if they were outnumbered by the enemy they managed to make turks to retreat. Only two Greeks were killed, Anagnostis Roris and Georgakis Digenis, while the enemy had dozens of loses. In this battle Nikitas fought so bravely that he was named Nikitaras the Turkophagos. After the battle his fingers could not let the sword be removed from his hand.

Lascarina Bubulina For centuries the castles which ringed the Peloponnese had been crucial to control of it. One such castle which lies east of Peloponnese and is on the top of a huge rock is the castle of Monemvasia. At the oubreak of the revolution the Romeioi laid siege to Monemvasia with what troops they could muster. In Monemvasia lived 1500 Turks and 8000 Greeks. The bishop Chrysanthos Pagonis and the notables Ioannes Despotopoulos and Panagiotakis Kalogeras were members of Philiki Eteria. Commander of the land forces was the maniat Gregorakis and of the naval forces was Lascarina Bubulina. Bubulina was from Spetses island, she was a very rich person owned several ships and spent all her fortune for the revolution. On March 13th 1821, the first flag had been raised on Spetses by Bubulina on the main mast of her ship. She herself had travelled many times as a captain with her favourite ship Agamemnon. Her father had died in the prisons of Gedi Kule of Constantinople where she was born May 11th 1771. Monemvasia was impregnable and only famine could make Turks surrender. They tried in May a sortie but the Greeks were informed of the plan by Panagiotakis Kalogeras and all Turks were killed or arrested. Rich turks moved to the upper castle closed the gates and were indiferrent for the hunger of either Greeks and Turks who lived in the lower town. Finally Turks offered to surrender to Alexandros Kantakouzinos deputy of Demetrios Ypsilantes, on 23 July 1821. The castle was delivered to Greeks again after 461 years when Manuel Palaeologus on 1460 handed over the rule to the Venetians.

From the first days of the revolution Kolokotronis had insisted that the Greeks concentrated their efforts on the taking of Tripolis in the central Moreas. In June, the greek forces had surrounded Tripolis. 2500 men under Theodoros Kolokotronis were on the left side, 1500 under the command of Giatrakos were on the right side and 1000 men under Anagnostaras in the centre. Equally determined it was Mustafabey, the kehagia of Hursit, who since January 1821 had been at Ioannina besieging Ali Pasha. The town was ringed by a wall about 2 meters thick and 5 meters high. But contrary to the other fortresses of Moreas, it was in the middle of a plain and could not get support from the sea. The total population of Tripolis, including the armed garisson of 9 thousands, was estimated at about 30000. Among the Turks was Hursit's harems, but also there were eminent Greeks who were kept as hostages, although few of them survived.

In July 1821 a newcomer arrived at the Greek camp: Dimitrios Ypsilantis, brother of Alexandros who started the revolution in Moldavia. On his way from Russia to Greece, Ypsilantis came accross with a corsican named Valest, and brought him also in Greece to organise the first regular army. Ypsilantis remained an honest and good-hearted man until the end of the struggle but he proved not intelligent enough to lead the war against Turks. Shortly after his arrival he came in quarrel with the civilian leaders proestoi or kotsabashides, who were the aristocracy of Peloponnese and intended to replace the Turks as rulers of their domains. In the meantime hunger and diseases were tormenting the besieged population. Kolokotronis had his men dig a fosse - grana around the walls. It was an act that defined the fate of Tripolis. When Kiamilbey with 4000 cavalry tried to attack the fosse and go and fetch provisions, he failed. It was the last attempt of Turks to exit from the town. Among the besieged began to appear divisions. One party proposed fighting their way to their compatriots to Nafplion, the other of Albanians under Elmez Aga wanted separate agreements with Greeks, and the third party of the eminent Turks supported a negotiated surrender. Kolokotronis had come in agreement with Albanians with the promise that they would leave for their country and never will fight against Hellenes again. Negotiations started by forcing the hostages to write a letter, calling on them to lay down down their arms and return to the compassion of Sultan. On these days the turkish fleet had reached the Corinthiac bay and burned Galaxidi. Because there were rumours of invasion, Ypsilantis left the camp and with 1000 men headed to Aigion.

On 23th September Panagiotis Kefalas and some spetsiots sailors, who had joined under Bubulina also the siege, noticed that a part of the walls was not well guarded. The practiced on climbing sailors immediately reached the top of the wall and opened the gates. The Greeks poured in. People who, like the revolutionaries in Bastille, were under a cruel yoke for centuries, people who were impoverished and hungry at last could revenge against their tyrants. They started to plunder and to slaughter. Unfortunately not even women or children were spared. Only the Albanians who were under Kolokotronis' protection escaped and also the harems of Hursit were saved with the intervention of Bubulina.

About 15000 turks were slaughtered. When Kolokotronis entered the city he said: 'My horse did not touch the ground because of the bodies'. Later somebody showed him the plane tree were the turks were hanging the rayas. 'Who knows how many of my clan have benn hanged om this tree?' And immediately had the plane cut. When Anagnostis Zafeiropoulos told him that one day his country whould reward him for his services Kolokotronis answered: 'It is me the first whom they are going to exile'. It was thanks to Theodoros Kolokotronis that Tripolis fell and he continued so his sucessfull military carreer. But this success didn't like to all the Greeks and espesially to kotzabasides, who whouldn't tolerate other to the power of the new greek state.

Andreas Metaxas fights at Lala

At the town of Lala, south of Patras lived Turkoalbanians who were very brave soldiers. Their leaders Moustafa agas, Seid agas and Ali-Farmakis were very rich persons and their power had reached Gastouni and Pyrgos. At the beiginning of the revolution they fought with success the neibouring christian villages and had their first victory at the castle of Hlemoutsi, near Kullini. On 2 May 1821, they fought against greeks of Pyrgos who were under the leader of Haralampis Vilaetis. The battle took place near the village Latzoi, and Vilaetis was killed. He was beheaded and his head was put on a stick. Kefallinia was under british rule. The english governor wouldn't tolerate some hungry revolutionaries who could bring destabilization in the area. He had forbidden to his subjects to help their compatriots and everybody who whould leave his property was confiscated. The brothers Konstantinos and Andreas Metaxas with hundreds Greeks from Kefallinia and Zakynthos left for Peloponnese to fight for the freedom of their homeland. They entered Kullini or Glarentza and joined the rest Greeks. Also Plapoutas from Karytena with 1000 soldiers came in the area and all Greeks decided to attack to Lala. On 24 June both sides fought bravely. This night Turkoalbanians burtn their houses, impaled the prisoners and escaped for the castle of Patras.

Bibliography
Constantine Paparhigopoulos - History of Helenic Nation
Spuridon Trikoupis - History of Greek Revolution
Samuel Howe - Greek Revolution
Kolokotronis' memoirs
Makrygiannis' memoirs
Michel De Grece - Bubulina





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