Greek War of Independence



Greeks divided - Death of Markos Mpotsaris

Second assembly in Astros - 1823

The year 1822 had brought success for the Greeks, mainly in Peloponnese and in Roumeli, modern Sterea Ellada. They had captured the castles of Athens and Nafplion, but there was a crucial question. Who would have the power? The politicians, who had with them the ship-owners of Hydra or the kapetanioi, military captains? The first party was supported by Ioannes Koletis, Theodoros Negris, Alexandros Mavrokordatos and Kountouriotes brothers and the second party was supported by Theodoros Kolokotronis, Odysseas Androutsos, Nikitaras and Dimitrios Ypsilantis. Already the politicians who controlled the first government of Epidavros had made attempts to exterminate Androutsos, and now Krevatas, a supporter of Kolokotronis was murdered. The provisional government established at Epidavros had been intented to last only for a year, until the end of 1822, when elections were to be held for members of a new assembly. The politicians made every effort to delay the new elections because the kapetanioi had already great influence to the people after their victories, while the politicians after their trepid escape had lost the confidence of the people. Not only they fled, when Dramalis invaded in Peloponnese, but accused Ypsilantis for disobedience, because he didn't follow them and stayed to fight the Ottomans. They also signed decree which praised Mavrokordatos and Negris for their services to the state, ignoring all those who really fought against the enemies.

The members of the new governement were to be chosen in local elections in their regions. Representatives came from as far away as Crete in the south and Trikeri near Volos in the north. There had been debate about where the new assembly was to be held. Nafplion was a choice, but it was controlled by Kolokotronis, and Plapoutas, the commander of Palamidi, refused the entry of the government, on the ground that its mandate had now expired. The delegates assembled on 10 March 1823, in Astros. Each party wanted to controll the other, and kapetanioi, who all their lives fought against the enemy on the mountains, couldn't stand that some adventurers who came from abroad after the break of the revolution were ready to seize the power. But for the revolution to survive the two groups needed each other. The military depended upon the politicians' skills, for the international scene, while the politicians were nothing without the captains. In Europe already the meeting which had taken place in Verona, the previous year had condemned the greek revolution and had rejected even the presence of the Greek delegates, Andreas Metaxas, bishop of Patras Germanos and Georgakis Mavromichalis saying that there didn't exist a Nation with a name Hellas. Only Pope, Pios VII supported the Greeks in their struggle, but couldn't persuade the european governments to alter their attitude. The assembly of Astros gave all the power to the party of politicians. Mavrokordatos became general secretary of Executive (Ektelestikon), Petrobeys Mavromichalis became president and members were Andreas Zaimis, Haralampis and Metaxas. There was no post in the new government for Negris and Ypsilantis. Negris infuriated joined Odysseas Androutsos. According to Kolokotronis' memoirs, 'if Romeoi were united, they would have liberated all Greek lands and Constantinople itself'.

Andreas Lontos The remnant of Dramalis' army had withdrawn in the autumn of 1822 to the citadel of Corinth, where Dramalis himself and thousands of his men had died from diseases. The only hope for the some thousands Turks was to escape west to Patras. A garisson of 800 was left in Corinth and on 4 January 1823, 1000 sick and wounded Turks were sent to Patras by sea, along the Gulf of Corinth, while 3500 set off for Patras along the gulf's southern shore. At Akrata which was a village near Vostitsa, modern Aigion, they found themselves trapped by Greek forces lead by many captains: Asimakis Zaimis, Haralampis, Petmezas brothers, Soliotis, Andreas Zaimis, Andreas Lontos and Odysseas Androutsos who had left Rumeli to come to Moreas to discuss with Kolokotronis and attend the assembly of Astros. The Turks fought bravely and held out for six weeks, eating first their horses and then the bodies of their dead comrades. Finally Jusuf pasha sent a flotilla from Patras which succeeded in reaching the trapped remnant of Dramalis' army, and transported them in the castle of Patras.

Markos Mpotsaris Also inside Ottoman Empire, the things were not going well. Janissaries had revolted against the sultan and started to pillage and massacre christians. Whenever they got angry they burst their anger to the pour christians of Polis. The sultan transported soldiers from Anatolia and defeated the insurgents, killing 200 janissaries. Later there was general amnesty but Halet efenti, vezir of sultan was held responsible and later was beheaded. Also on February 1823, broke fire in Constantinople which destructed stores of ammunition the cannon foundry and also 12000 houses in the turkish district. Nevertheless sultan organised another campaign in early 1823. The main army was to cross into the Peloponnese by the narrow passage between Rio and Antirio, near Patras, a separate force was to crush the revolt in East Rumeli and all these operations were to be supported by the turkish fleet. A force of 16000 was assembled at Skondra of Albania, by Mustaes pasha. In July they moved south, through Pindos mountains to Karpenisi. Mustaes pasha was joined by Omer Vrionis who had his base of operations in Ioannina. Greeks moved from Mesologhi to Karpenisi and they were under the command of Markos Botsaris, Kitsos Tzavelas, Karaiskakis, Makris, Georgios Kitsos, Gioldases, Sadimas and Tsogas. Mpotsaris was appointed commander in chief of west Roumeli, but when he saw the disappointment to the other captains, he tore to peaces the paper with the appointment saying: 'Let the enemy decide the generals of the greek army'. Mpotsaris was a decent man and everybody respected him. Hellenes moved to Karpenisi and Botsaris suggested a surprise night attack. He was followed by his 350 Suliots and the rest of the Hellenes would follow later. On 8 August the attack was launched against the enemy camp in Kefalovrison, near Karpenisi, in the middle of the night. Suliots created total panic and confusion among the enemy, killing hundreds of them. Mpotsaris continued leading his troops, though his fellow captains failed to support him with exception of Kitsos Tzavelas. When Botsaris reached near the tent of Mustaes pasha and tried to climb a wall he received a bullet. His last words were:'My brothers I die happy. Stay faithfull to God and to our fatherland. Go and finish what we have started'. His companions concealed his death, and his men continued to fight. The body of Markos Botsaris was taken back to Mesologhi for a magnificent funeral, and his name has ever after been revered as a patriot whose loyalty was never in doubt, and as heroic commander who died in battle at the head of his men. When Karaiskakis, who was sick in the Proussos Monastery, near Karpenisi, saw the body of Markos, he said:'I wish I will die the same way'.

After the death of Markos Botsaris, the Suliots came under the command of his brother Kostas Botsaris. Now all Greeks under Tzavelas, Gioldasis and Sadimas fortified the Mount Kaliakouda. On 28 August 1823, Turks attacked and defeated the Greeks who lost Zugouris Tzavelas and Nikolos Kontogiannis with 150 other men and pushed on to Anatoliko, modern Aitoliko, in Mesologhi's lagoon. The Turkish commanders Omer Vryonis and Mustaes pasha decided that they must first capture the islet of Aitoliko and mounted a large battery to bombard it. The defenders had water shortage, but a bomb blusted in the Archaggelos Michael church and from the hole gushed water. So the Greeks held out and after six weeks of siege, on 30 November, the Turkish armies withdrew. In East Roumeli the Turkish campaign under Yusuf Mperkoftsalis did no more than the campaign in the West. Mperkoftsalis and Selih pasha with 10000 men reached and burnt Salona, modern Amfissa and Thebes. Resistance from Androutsos, deterred them from any attempt to move to Moreas and the main part of the army proceeded to Evvia, to help the commander of Karystos, Omer bey. Thus in the course of 1823 not a single additional soldier from the Ottoman army entered the Peloponnese, and the opposing Greek factions there were left undisturbed to pursue their self-destructive rivalry.

Kriezotis Those were the main land wars. Against the Greeks came the Turkish fleet under a new kapitan pasha, Hosref. He sailed out of Ellispontos or Dardanellia on 11 May 1823 and his fleet was made up of smaller ships and was supported by a small algerian fleet. Hosref, who proved to care more for his profit by saling permissions to European ships, than the success of the campaign, disembarked troops in Evvia, to reinforce the Turks in the stronghold of Karystos. Kriezotis who had blockaded the Turks in Karystos, couldn't face the new enemy reinforcements and withdrew. The fleet then sailed on round the Moreas, supplying the fortresses of Methoni and Koroni, and in June reached Patras, where it stayed for two months, achieving little. Hosref tried to send provisions by sea to the garisson still holding out in the citadel of Corinth, but the citadel is far away from the shore and as soon as the stores were landed, 2000 Greeks under Genneos Kolokotronis, son of Theodoros, Heliotis, Staikopoulos and Notaras, came down from the neighbouring hills, drove off the Turks and seized the supplies. Starvation finally led the garisson of the Corinth citadel to surrender, on 26 October, and Theodoros Kolokotronis with Nikitaras cared for the prisoners to be transported safely to the ships which had destination the port of Salonica. As garrison commander was appointed Heliotes. Leaving Patras in August, Hosref's fleet spent the rest of the year patrolling the Aegean, without opposition until a combined Greek squadron put to sea under Antreas Miaoulis of Hydra. The Greek fleet captured a corvette and four brigs, and forced Hosref to sail back to Constantinople in December without any usefull contribution to the year's campaign. This year, the french admiral Derigny wrote to his government:'It is the third year of the Greek revolution and the Ottoman army and navy haven't achieved anything. Turks only can destroy Greeks but can't subdue them. We advise them to be tolerant and indulgent. On the other hand Greeks fight each other and can't do more than they have done until now.'

From the summer of 1823 until the end of the year the division among the Greeks was between those who supported Kolokotronis (Executive or Ektelestikon) and those who supported Mavrokordatos (Vouleutikon or Vouli or Senate). Kolokotronis was sided by Petrobeis Mavromichalis, while Mavrokordatos was backed by Koletis, a number of Peloponnesian captains like Andreas Zaimis, Andreas Lontos, Giatrakos and the islanders (especially those from Hydra). On 25 November, the Vouleutikon - Senate dismissed from his post one of the Ektelestikon - Executive's members, Kolokotronis' supporter Metaxas, and in his place appointed its own man Koletis. This provoked Kolokotronis' supporters to action, and 2000 troops from Navplion under its garrison commander Panos Kolokotronis burst into Senate while it was in session in Argos, seized the Senate's records and dispersed the senators with threats and blows. The senators vouleutes escaped to Kranidi, where they could rely on the protection of Hydra. In Kranidi, the Vouleutikon dismissed the two remaining opponents of the Ektelestikon and appointed Georgios Kountouriotis of Hydra and Panagiotis Mpotasis of Spetses. So the new government (Vouleutikon and Ektelestikon) was controlled by Alexandros Mavrokordatos, while the old Executive refused to accept the new government and moved to Tripolis, leaving Navplion still in the hands of Panos Kolokotronis, son of Theodoros. Thus at the beginning of 1824, Hellas had two governments. One was at Kranidi and the other was at Tripolis. Both claimed legality. The new government moved to Nafplion and ordered Panos Kolokotronis to hand over the fortress of Palamidi, which he refused to do and he was denounced and called traitor. So started a siege of Palamidi, and was organised an army of 3000 men under the command of Lontos, Giatrakos, Notaras, Makrigiannis and Kefalas against Tripolis which was defended by Kolokotronis, Plapoutas Nikitaras and Kanellos Deligiannis. So Greeks fought a civil war, just 3 years after the break of the revolution. On 22 May 1824, Kolokotronis ordered cease of fire and the castle of Navplion was surrendered to Zaimis and Lontos.

Byron On 1 July 1823, british Lord Byron, departed from Genova and on 3 August his ship anchored in the harbour of Argostoli, Kephalenia's capital. He was escorted by Edward Trelawny and Italian Pietro Gamba. He stayed in Kephalenia for several weeks, because the situation in Greece was unstable, and Byron insisted that he must deal only with one legal Greek government. Finally, he decided to go to Mesologhion, to work with Mavrokordatos, the one Greek leader that he trusted more. Already in Mesologhi had arrived Colonel Stanhope, representative of the London Greek Committee. Byron arrived in Mesologhi, on 24 December 1823 where he was received as hero by an excited crowd of soldiers and citizens. On arrival at Mesolongi Byron took up residence on the same house where Stanhope lived. The first project discussed was an attack on the fortress of Navpaktos. Byron already had undertaken a body of 500 Souliot troops but their behavior was not a proper one, and always demanded more and more money. The citizens of Mesolongi were disappointed with Souliots and considered them as a menace, and later also Byron was dissapointed with them because they didn't stop causing difficulties. When a Suliot murdered the Swedish philhellene Adolph von Sass, Byron offered them a month's pay on condition that they would leave the city and they wouldn't return. So ended the plan of attacking to the Nafpaktos' castle. Only Markos Botsaris could have united and controlled the Souliots, and with Markos' death was also killed the prospect of Byron forming an effective corps from the Soultios whom he had admired so much. Byron spent thousands of sterlings for the cause and his financial contribution to the Struggle was imense. He helped women and children who were in distress and liberated turkish captives. Stanhope and Trelawny left Mesologhi for Athens and they both fell under the spell of Odysseas Androutsos whom they considered as the best military captain. Androutsos invited Byron to Salona, to form a Congress and promote unity between all Hellenes. On 28 March, Byron went out riding, was caught in heavy rain and when he returned he was seized by an extreme pain. He stayed in bed, and on 2 April Byron died. All people of Mesologhi wept and cried for the loss of this noble man. Though he didn't achieve much, his presence in Greece drew to the Hellenic cause the attention of the nations and the participation of simple Europeans.

On 20 March 1824, Georgios Karaiskakis, armatolos in Agrafa with 200 men occupied Anatolikon and the islet of Vasiladhi, in the lagoon of Mesologhi. The reason was that his nephew was beaten by two citizens of Mesologhi. Mavrokordatos, who wanted to ged rid of strong captains, seized the oppportunity and organized a trial condemning Karaiskakis as a traitor. Finally, having no support from others, Mavrokordatos failed to execute Karaiskakis who came to Mesologhi to face the trial and was relieved.

Bibliography
Constantine Paparhigopoulos - History of Helenic Nation
Spuridon Trikoupis - History of Greek Revolution
Kolokotronis' memoirs
Makrygiannis' memoirs





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