Greek War of Independence



Battles in Roumeli, Epirus, Macedonia, Crete - The first Government

Suli

Rumeli is the region north of Peloponnese and south of Epirus region and Thessaly region. There are two main routes by which turkish forces could come down to Moreas to crush the rebellion of giaour as turks used to call greeks. The eastern route is south of Lamia and passes through Thermopylae and the western is south of Arta along the slopes of Makrinoros. Northern of Arta lays Suli. In the beginning of 1821, Suliots had returned from their exile to Corfu, were in alliance with Ali pasha and were fighting the army of sultan, hoping that in this way they would return to Suli. Their brave leaders were Georgios Drakos, Giotis Daglis, Athanasios Fotomaras, Christoforos Perrevos, Notis Mpotsaris, Markos Mpotsaris, Tousas Zervas, Zugouris Tzavelas, Thanasis Koutsonikas. They were fighting side by side with turkoalbanian soldiers of Ali, who were under the command of Ago Mouhourdar and Tahir Abaz. Important battles took place at Preveza, Lelova, Toskesi, Pente Pigadia and Suliots who were brave soldiers caused heavy casualties to the enemies. In this way sultanic forces under Hursit's orders were fighting against either Ali pashas' at Ioannina or against Suliots at Suli area. The revolutionaries in Peloponnese were progressing steadily and turks without reinforcements were confined in the castles of Patras, Methoni, Koroni, Nauplion.

In western Roumeli captain Makris attacked on 5 March 1821 against turkish soldiers near Nafpaktos. May 1821, Turks of Mesologhion abandoned the town and headed to Agrinion or Vrahori. Also turks of Anatolikon or Aitolikon left their town for Agrinion. Proestoi of Mesologhion, Razikotsikas, Papaloukas and Kapsalis raised the greek flag on 20 May 1821 while Romioi under Makris, Tsogkas, Vlahopoulos and Varnakiotis attacked to Agrinio where was a turkoalbanian guard of 1000 men. On 9 June, Agrinion was liberated. Greeks of Agrafa and Karpenision on June revolted but their leader Kostas Velis from Kerasovo was arrested and later killed. When Hursit realized that all western Rumeli was under the arms, he sent Ismael pasha, Hasabey and Bekir aga with 4000 soldiers to punish the giaour. At a place named Lagada near Makrinoros mount, 17 June, Gogos Bakolas, Iskios, Valtinos, Makrigiannis defended the place for eight hours. Turks retreated and so the route to the south at Makrinoros mount was blocked. Sirrako and Kalarytes, two towns eastern of Ioannina revolted but they were totally destroyed by forces sent from Hursit, 29th June 1821. On October joined forces of Suliots and Greeks from the south attacked Arta. In this battle participated Karaiskakis, Markos Mpotsaris, Makrigiannis, Gogos Mpakolas, Varnakiotis, Iskos, Tsogkas, Vlahopoulos, Fotomaras, Drakos, Veikos and turkoalbanians of Ali pasha. Turks retreated in the castle and the winners plundered in the city both greek and turkish houses. Their behaviour was according to Makrygiannis' memoirs, miserable. In the meantime the albanian soldiers of Ali pasha realized the there had been a general revolt of Romeiko against musulmans, and these were not just battles to save Ali pasha. So they changed sides after Hursit had promised them that he would forgive them for their attitude. Hellenes couldn't make it in Arta and left the city taking with them all women and children. They headed to Vrahori and Mesologhion. Makrigiannis was injured and was transferred to Salona. General Makrigiannis learned to write and read when he was old man and wrote memoirs. He was objective at his views, honest and fair with the others. He wrote about the sufferings of Greeks through the war, and described with details the battles that took place.

Eastern Roumeli, was an area controlled by the armatolos Odysseas Androutsos who was a very competent and brave man. His father was a great soldier and had died in turkish prisons, in Constantinople. Androutsos was born in Ithaca in 1788 and was appointed armatolos, something like policeman, by Ali pasha. He was member of Philiki Eteria and from the first days tried to rouse all Romioi to revolt against tyranny. On 24 March 1821, Panourgias gathered proestoi, raised the greek flag, in Salona, modern Amfissa, and besieged the castle. On 28 March, Dimos Kaltsas, Anagnostis Lidorikis and the clerical Georgios Politis raised the symbol of liberty and liberated Lidoriki. Athanasios Diakos with other revolutionaries and dignitaries of Eastern Rumeli, declared Greek Revolution in byzantine Monastery of Aghios Lukas and on 30 March, entered Livadia. Diakos was an honest and good hearted man. He was born in Musunitsa and later he became monk. He was handsome and one day a turk tried to rape him. He killed him, escaped to the mountains and became klepht. On 8 April 1821, Giannis Diovouniotis besieged turks in the castle of Voudounitsa. Athanasios Diakos In the meantime, Greeks of Attica, under the command of Meletis Vasileiou were gathered and attacked to Turks of Athina. Turks retreated in the castle of Acropolis. By the end of April 1821 turkish troops from Zitouni, modern Lamia, under Omer Vrionis and Kiose Mehmet pasha with 8000 infantry and 1000 cavalry tried to clear the rayas rebels from eastern Roumeli. Athanasios Diakos with a handful of men tried to hold the Alamana bridge at Thermopylae, while Panourgias and Diovouniotis entrenched the slopes of surrounded mountains. They soon abandoned their positions and Athanasios Diakos with bishop of Salona, Isaias were left alone with some dozens men. When he was asked to leave his answer was:'O Diakos den feugei'. All greeks were killed, and Diakos with broken sword was taken alive. When Vrionis asked him to become muslim and fight with him against giaour, Diakos rejected the offer telling him: 'I was born Romios and I will die Romios'. Diakos was impaled, 23 April 1821. His service to the cause was short, but his memory as a martyr is still strong.

The Alamana bridge was now open to the Turks who marched south. But it was the time of Odysseas Androutsos. He reached Gravia and asked volunteers, starting to dance. He was joined by Gkouras, Govginas and 115 other brave men. They defended an old inn in Gravia - Hani tis Gravias, and were attacked by thousands turkoalbanian soldiers. They held the place killing more than 500 enemies. Two Hellenes were killed, Thanasis Kastanis and Thanasis Seferis. During the night they escaped through the enemy camp killing with their swords the sleeping turkish soldiers. This battle made Omer Vrionis not to move to Peloponnese, because he realised that the revolt was a general one, and he couldn't have behind him strong rebel forces.

Battle of Vasilika A new turkish force from Macedonia under Veuran pasha with 8000 turks was coming to the south to join Vrionis' forces. Odysseas sent his deputy commander Gkouras, and he would join the forces next day. Gkouras with Diovouniotis, Panourgias with their men were hidden in the forest and waited the enemy to pass Vasilika village. The plan of attack was devised by the old captain Diovouniotis. On 26 August 1821, Hellenes surprised the enemy and attacked, spreading the rumour that Odysseas had arrived. 700 turks were killed including one pasha and many officers, making Veuran to retreat to Lamia. In July 1821, Odysseas sent Aggelis Govginas, to Evoia, to organise the revolutionaries. On 15 July 1821, Aggelis Govginas with 400 men fought against 2000 turkalbanians of Omervrioni at Vrisakia of Evoia island. Turks retreated having lost 100 soldiers.

In Macedonia, Emmanuel Pappas organised the revolutionaries and gathered ammunition and guns in some monasteries of Mount Athos. After some greek victories of small value, Turks who had as allies jewish people of Thesalonica, were organised and counterattacked. In the meantime, a cruel and inhuman pasha of kurdish origin arrived from Minor Asia. He was called Abdul Abud pasha. He attacked Hellenes who were fortified in Kassandra peninsula of Chalkidiki. Greeks were crashed and Abdul massacred 10000 including women and children. Naoussa, a small town who was defended by Gatsos, Karatasos and Zafeirakis was also destroyed by sultanic forces and all the population of 5000 was massacred. The wives of the three leaders were captured. One of them became muslim and the two others were impaled. This was the fate of christians in ottoman empire. Those who wanted to live decently became muslims and those who wanted to remain Greeks and Orthodox were tortured or murdered. Gatsos and Karatasos escaped south but Zafeirakis was killed at Verroia. The monasteries of Athos vowed subjugation to the sultan and payed heavy tributes. So started and ended the revolution in Macedonia.

In Crete the population was divided to muslims and christians. Crete had suffered from barbaric invasions since 7th century. Since arabic occupation already many cretans had become muslims. The brave emperor Nicephorus Phocas had liberated Crete, but after 13th century, the island was under venetian control and after 17th century was under ottoman occupation. Cretans were brave soldiers like maniats and suliots and especially Sfakia had always been an autonomous region. Daskalogiannis was a fighter-symbol for sfakians who after his daughter was captured by Turks, he surrendered himself and was skinned alive, in 18th century. In June 1821, Cretans revolted in Sfakia and followed Chania. In Megalo Kastro, modern Heracleion, on 23th June, Turks attacked in the cathedral where Cretans were gathered for the Mass, and massacred the arcibishop Gerasimos and everyone who was inside. Then they become to slaughter ever christian in the city. Crete had now become a theater of war operations. In June, Janissaries under Ibraem Taburantzi were defeated at Lulos and retreated to Chania. Cretans had as symbol the byzantine flag with the eagle. In Sitia, eastern Crete, the monks of monastery at Tomplos were mercilessly tortured and murdered. In Sfakia, Cretans under Russos, crashed the ottoman forces and killed their leader Deli Mustafa. The war in Crete would continue harshly, like the rest of greek regions.

By the end of the summer of 1821, Hellenes had blocked Turkish advances down both eastern and western routes in Roumeli, modern Central Greece. But there was a major deficiency. There wasn't any leader acceptable by all Greeks. Various bodies had been set up to control the operations in the different places where the revolt had broken out. There was a large number of oplarhigoi, military leaders. These had been previously either klephts or armatoloi at the service of pashas, to control the klephts. The main captains were Kolokotronis, Mavromichalis in Peloponnese and in Central Greece Androutsos and Karaiskakis. In the meantime many adventurers arrived in the area with their main intention to serve their personal interest, than to serve the common effort which was to ged rid of the ottoman tyranny. These persons who did more damage to the cause than any good, were Alexandros Mavrokordatos, Theodoros Negris and Ioannes Koletis. Mavrokordatos and Negris were phanariots and had risen sufficiently in the ottoman hierarchy, while Koletis was doctor at the service of Ali pasha at Ioannina. They knew that they had to ged rid of military captains kapetanios, so that they could stay in the general leadership. They used intrigues and sneaky methods and even hired assassins to achieve their goal. Mavrokordatos set up a trial, accusing Karaiskakis for treachery but failed. Koletis was more succesful with Androutsos and in the end managed to have him assasinated, while they managed to imprison Kolokotronis, Plapoutas and other kapetanios. These politicians (kalamarades), were in the same party with the proestoi or notables, who were the civilian leaders. Kotsabasides were drawn from the rich, had land properties and were in cooperation with turkish autorities over local matters. Dimitrios Ypsilantis had accused them that they also oppressed the people like the Turks did. Dimitrios Ypsilantis was an honest person and could become general leader. But proestoi disliked him and he always remained out of the political game. So in the end two parties who hated each other, existed in Greece. The party of rich civilian leaders, politicians and ship-owners and the party of military leaders or kapetanioi. As Theodoros Kolokotronis had stated, if Greeks were united they would have liberated even Polis, as they used to call Constantinople. Ypsilantis Demetrios

In the end of 1821, Hellenes were gathered in Epidavros to form their first assembly, after 400 years of foreign occupation. The assembly was named Ethniki Sineleusis Epidavrou. There were delegations from Peloponnese, East and West Roumeli and the Aegean islands. Mavrokordatos was elected president of the assembly. Dimitrios Ypsilantis who had broken relations with notables and with Mavrokordatos didn't attend the assembly. The Constitution of Epidavros was drafted in 1st January 1822. The constitutional document began like this:'In the name of the Holy and Indivisible Trinity: the Greek Nation, under the hideous domination of the Ottomans, unable to bear the heavy yoke of tyranny and having with great sacrifices thrown it out, declares today, through its lawful representatives gathered in National Assembly, before God and man, its political existence and independence'. The state religion would be Orthodoxy, everyone would be equal before the law, guaranteed the security of property, honour and personal safety. Mavrokordatos became president of Ektelestikon - Executive and dominated everybody, while Ypsilantis and military leaders lost power. The revolution was a national one and was not against any political system. Mavrokordatos tried to remind to Europe that the new born state was descendant of the ancient Greece, in order to get sympathy from Europeans. Symbols of Philike Eteria or Byzantium were erased.

Bibliography
Constantine Paparhigopoulos - History of Helenic Nation
Spuridon Trikoupis - History of Greek Revolution
Samuel Gridley Howe - Historical Sketsch of Greek Revolution
Kolokotronis' memoirs
Makrygiannis' memoirs
Perevos' memoirs





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