Yeorgios Karaiskakis

Janissaries. They were massacred by Mahmud in 1826.

After the fall of Mesolongi, Greeks were in desperate condition. The army was unorganized, the government was ineffective, there were no money, thousands of starving refugees had come to Nafplion to find refuge, the agriculture was inexistent. The first priority was to elect new government. The delegates were gathered in 6 April 1826, at Epidavros, and Koudouriotis, Mavrokordatos and Koletis were removed from their posts. The new government was presided by Andreas Zaimis from Kalavryta, and had ten members: Petrobeys Mavromichalis, Anagnostis Deligiannis, Georgios Sisinis, Dimitrios Tsamados, Andreas Hatzi-Anargyroy, Anagnostis Monarhidis, Andreas Iskos, Spuridon Trikoupis, Ioannis Vlahos and Panagiotis Dimitrakopoulos. The new Assembly sent an appeal to English ambassador in Constantinople to negotiate peace between Greece and Turkey. In the meantime, in Russia Tsar Alexandros died and was succeeded on the throne by Nikolaos I. Nikolaos was more effective than his predecessor and issued an ultimatum to the Ottoman Empire to withdraw all troops from Moldavia and Wallachia. Mahmud reluctanly accepted the ultimatum and withdrew the troops from the two autonomous provinces. Sultan Mahmud had another serious problem inside his state. This had to do with the corps of janissaries, who were christians taken by force from their parents and were turned to fanatic muslim soldiers. After a long and specialized training, they became the Sultan's most loyal vassals. But now, they had become useless as a military force and they just collected their payments, while the same time they were a burden on the people of the empire. They were disobedient, and out of any control. Mahmud had gathered next to his palace loyal to him tactical forces. When he announced reforms in the army, the jenissaries revolted and attacked. But within a few hours they were crushed and slaughtered. Those who were arrested were put to trials and were hung. So ended the barbaric custom of children's abduction which had converted to Islam over a million of the christians who lived inside the Ottoman empire, during 5 centuries of slavery.

Mani resisted and wasn't invaded by Ibrahim pasha Ibrahim left Mesolongi and through Patras invaded the province of Kalavryta, destroying and burning every village in the area. The peasants escaped to the mountains to save their lives. Ibrahim reached Tripolis in 10 May 1826, having with him 2000 women and children. The prisoners were sent to work as slaves in Egypt. Ibrahim was determined either to exterminate every Greek in Peloponnese, or to replace the whole population with Egyptians, whom he would carry with his ships. Later, on 17 May, the Egyptian pasha left Tripolis and reached the castle of Methoni, south-east of Peloponnese. Theodoros Kolokotronis with Nikitaras, Genneos Kolokotronis fought klephtopolemo - guerrilla war against the egyptian army. Many egyptian detachments were eliminated in ambushes, according to Kolokotronis' memoirs. On 21 June 1826, 7000 egyptian tactical forces attacked to Mani. Maniates, men and women were entrenched at Verga, near the port of Armyros. The people of Mani fought bravely, (women fought using scythes) and the enemy left 100 bodies and retreated. It was said that a woman named Panoraia, with her scythe killed two Arab soldiers, who tried to rape her. Ibrahim had 1500 of his soldiers sent to the port of Dyros, but Maniates under the command of Konstantinos Mavromichalis, again made the enemy to retreat. The egyptian pasha, on August 1826 tried to invade Mani from the north. This time with the help of a traitor named Mposinas, who like Efialtis who had lead the Persians, he lead the Egyptians through a secret path inside Mani. Theodoros Stathakos killed the traitor, but in the battle that followed he was burned with his men, by the enemy inside his tower. On 28 August 1826, 2000 Maniates under Tsalafatinos, Giatrakos, Georgakis Mavromichalis and Ilias Katsakos counter-attacked the Egyptians and forced them to withdraw. Again the women fought like men, and a maniot-woman, named Eleni her alone with her two chlidren in her arms, managed to kill an Arab who was pursuing her. Mani was saved.

On 3 September 1826, the inhabitants of Nafplion heard a strange noise coming from the sea. It was the first steamboat which came to Greece and it was named Karteria, meaning endurance. Her command was given to the English Hasting. Later, in December the second steamboat Hellas came and her command was given to the Hydrian Andreas Mioulis or Andreas Bokos.

Reshit Pasha or Kioutahes left Mesolongi and headed to Athens with an army of 10000 men, including 26 cannons. He passed through Rumeli, without facing any serious resistance. The same time Omer Pasha of Karystos came to Attica to join his forces with the Kioutahes's army. The captains Kriezotis and Vassos tried to stop the advance of the enemy forces without success and withdrew to Elefsina. Also Gouras, the murderer of Androutsos, who was appointed by the previous government as commander in chief of East Rumeli, didn't tried to face the enemy but withdrew inside the castle of Acropolis. His only care was to steal the property of the Athenians and this attitude made many Greeks to proskuno submit to the Ottoman pasha. On 16 July 1826, Reshit pasha established his headquarters at Patisia and on 3 August the Ottomans conquered the town of Athens. Now the only place where 1400 Greeks (including women and children) resisted was the castle of Acropolis. The Greek forces were under the command of Gouras, Makrygiannis, Dionusios Eumorfopoulos, Stathis Katsikogiannis and Georgios Fokas. Karaiskakis speaks to Ainian

The new government at Nafplion, under Andreas Zaimis, appointed Georgios Karaiskakis as commander in chief of Rumeli. Zaimis, whose home at Kerpini of Kalavryta's province had been burnt by Karaiskakis during the second civil war, proved generous and he said:"for the sake of our homeland I believe that the most competent to take charge of our forces is Yeorgios Karaiskakis." Karaiskakis, on 19 June, left Nafplion and reached Eleusina where he joined his forces with Panourgias, Vassos, Kriezotis and the French Fabvier who had organized a tactical force of 1000 men. Later the Italian Piza came from Massalia of France with 70 Europeans philhellenes to help the Greek struggle. European philhellenes provided with money and food the Greeks who had no resources at all this critical period. On 6 August 1826, Reshit attacked at Chaidhari, a village west of Athens, against the combined forces of Karaiskakis' irregulars and Fabvier's regulars. Fabvier insisted to fight in the open plain, but Karaiskakis who was always cautious because of the lack of Greek cavalry, choosed to defend himself in fortified positions. Both belligerents and especially the regular forces of Fabvier's had great losses. The different points of view of the two leaders caused many disputes and this harmed a lot the campaign at Athens. After the failure to break the siege of Acropolis, the Greek fighters were dispirited and many abandoned the camp which Karaiskakis had established in Elefsina. The enemy approached Elefsina, but without knowing the exact situation in the Greek camp, didn't try any serious attack and withdrew his forces.

Makrigiannis So Acropolis remained under siege until the end of the year. Makriyiannis in his memoirs gives full description of the siege of Acropolis, the countless battles which took place and his serious wounds. Another man who helped the defence of Acropolis was Kostas Hormovitis or Lagoumitzis who was expert in digging mines - lagoumia and later creating explosions, killing large number of enemies. Two attempts to break the siege and provide the defenders with food and powder failed. Makriyiannis describes a discussion which he had with the garisson commander Gouras. Gouras had always been regretful for the assassination of Odysseas. They discussed, drunk and danced. An hour later, on 30 September 1826, Gouras was killed by a single sniper shot. On 11 October, Kriezotis landed at Mounuhia - Phaliron with 300 men and under darkness got past the turkish guards and into the Acropolis carrying powder and food. The signal which was nine cannon shots was heard by Karaiskakis who was fighting the enemy at Menidi to mislead the Turkish commanders. A month later Makriyiannis who had recovered, managed to get out with other horsemen through the enemy lines to the government, and ask for supplies and especially for powder. In December, Fabvier with 530 of his troops broke the enemy lines and got into the castle of Acropolis with precious provisions for the defenders. Only eight of his men were killed. A brave French named Rober was almost captured alive by the enemy, but he was saved and carried inside the castle. His twent-six wounds caused his death. On 12 January 1827, the Erechtheas' temple which was used as residence from Gouras' wife, was destroyed and all the eleven members of Gouras' family were burried under the ground.

Georgios Karaiskakis seeing that a direct attack on Ottoman forces wasn't possible, decided to make a campaign to Rumeli, to cut off Kioutahes' supplies. So, he left Vassos in charge of Elefsina's camp, and on 25 October 1826, he left for his campaign with 2500 men. His biographer Demetrios Ainian gives full description of Karaiskakis' campaign. Greek forces reached the village of Dobrena and attacked next day. Turks defended themselves inside three towers. Many Greek villagers (proskunimenoi) had accepted the Ottoman rule and supported the Turkish forces. On 30 October, 300 Greeks under Giannakis Androutsos, brother of Odysseas were sent by the general to Zagara, but they were defeated by the enemy forces. Giannakis was captured and later was decapitated. The Albanian Mustafabeys was the leader of the Ottoman forces. On 11 November the heroic fighter Ioannes Soultanis who had survived the Mesolonghi' siege was killed at Dobrena. Mustafabeys joined his forces with Kehagiabey's and reached the monastery at Davlia. There he had discussions with his officers and decided to head to Salona, modern Amfissa to attack to the forces of Diovouniotis and Panourgias. They decided to pass through a village near ancient Delfoi: Arahova. A monk of the monastery who spoke Albanian went in the night to Distomo and informed Karaiskakis about the enemy's plans. On 18 November, Karaiskakis sent 400 men under Gardikiotis Grivas and Yiorgos Vagias to fortify the houses of Arahova. Stavraetos tis Rumelis The enemy forces of 2500 men, approached the village on 19 November 1826. They were under the command of brave Albanian Mustafabey, his brother Kiamilbey and Kehagiabey. They immediately began to fight the few Greeks who were fortified inside Arahova. But after a while came Xristodoulos Hatzipetrou, Karaiskakis and from the road of Salona came Diovouniotis, Panourgias and Giannousis. The Turkoalbanians retreated to a hill over the village and continued to fight. Soon they realized that they were surrounded and they couldn't escape. Kehagiabey had sent message to Kioutahes and asked for reinforcements. Those reinforcements never succeeded to arrive and the Turkoalbanians were in desperate condition. But because their leaders were very proud and very brave, they didn't accept the terms of Karaiskakis to surrender. The next nights were very cold and a heavy snow was falling. While Romaeoi stayed inside the warm houses of Arahova, the enemy forces were frozen, hungry and sick. Some Gekides - Albanians from Macedonia escaped through the Greek lines but the rest didn't make it. Mustafabey who was wounded asked his brother to kill him and take his head with him. Greeks charged, using their swords. The Ottomans frozen were extinguished. Karaiskakis didn't hear any noise and thought that the Turks had managed to escape. So he shouted to everyone to go after the Turks and promised money for every head was taken to him. This barbaric custom was the result of 400 years of slavery, a slavery which had made the majority of Hellenes uneducated, uncultivated and semibarbarians. After some hours Karaiskakis realized the extent of the Turkish desaster. Almost 2000 bodies were laying in the snow. The whole army was wiped out. Only eight Greek fighters were killed. This day, 24 November 1826, was celebrated by the Greek government as the day of liberation of the whole Rumeli.

After the victory at Arahova, Karaiskakis fortified Distomo and placed there Souliots under the command of Kostas Mpotsaris. In Salona appointed the Souliot Yiorgios Drakos, chief of the forces who besieged the castle of the city. The general headed to Tourkohorion, south of Zitouni - modern Lamia, when he was informed that Turkish reinforcements for Athens' camp were approaching. Their leader was Hasanbey Kortsa. On 7 December 1826, Greek forces under the oplarhigoi Georgios Tzavellas, Gianousis Panomaras and the Bulgarian Hatzimichalis surprised the enemy forces who withdrew, leaving all their supplies just to save their lives. Kioutahes's supplies were cut off and he became so angry, that he wanted to abandon the siege and go after Karaiskakis. He changed his mind and sent Omer Pasha of Karystos with 4000 infantry and 500 cavalry, to face the stavraetos tis Roumelis, who had camped at Veltsa. On 19 January 1827, the Ottomans attacked to Distomo, which was defended by 400 Souliots under Notis Mpotsaris, Mpairaktaris, Kaskaris, Antonis Georgantas, Bousgos and Mitros Triantafillinas. Souliots fought bravely but they would have perished if Drakos hadn't appeared with reinforcements from Salona. On the night of 20th January, came Karaiskakis with his men to help the defenders. In order to reach the Greeks in time, he preferred to cross through the enemy camp. This risky act gave courage to the defenders. Next morning, Omer Pasha decapitated all the guards who were responsible for the camp, during the previous night. The war continued for some days. The tactical Turkish forces who arrived as reinforcements from Constantinople were defeated and Omer Pasha decided to withdrew to Griponisi, modern Evoia. Turks abandoned the castle of Salona and many towns, which they possessed. So in February 1827, Rumeli was almost liberated with the exception of Vonitsa, Epahtos (modern Nafpaktos) and Mesolongion.

But things at Attica were not going well for the revolutionaries. They had suffered a desastrous battle at Kamatero, on 27 January 1827, where 300 Greeks including colonel Bourbahes from Kefallenia were killed. The Greek government asked Karaiskakis to return to Elefsina, in order to face Kioutahes. Also, on March 1827, two English officers came to Piraeus. Their presence costed to Greeks the bloodiest defeat they ever had, fighting with the Ottomans. Those persons were Cochrane and Church. The assembly at Trizina voted Cochrane as admiral of the Greek fleet, Church as commander in chief and asked Ioannes Kapodistrias to be the governor of the Greek state. Greeks, who were still divided, prefered to appoint to those offices three persons from abroad, in order to have the acceptance of everyone. The two English officers stayed in their ships and from there they issued their orders. In the meantime in the camp that was commanded by Karaiskakis, were gathered more than 10000 irregulars. Cochrane was arrogant and argued with Karaiskakis about the course of operations. Karaiskakis who knew the advantage of the Turkish cavalry in the open plain, suggested to cut off the supplies of Kioutahes' camp from Thessaly and Evoia. Cochrane was for marching straight to the Acropolis, accused the irregulars for cowardice and threatened to leave. So the Greek officers accepted the English plan, but they refused to move as long as the Turks held the monastery of Aghios Spuridon, near Pireaus. Cochrane who didn't care for the cost of lives insisted to storm to the monastery but Karaiskakis argued for a negotiated capitulation. On 16 April, the Turkish garisson left the monastery and headed to Patisia. The Greek captains: Karaiskakis, Tzavellas, Vassos, Ioannes Logothetis escorted the Turks, who kept their weapons, as guaranty for their safety. When a Greek tried to take the yataghan of a Turk he was shot dead and the firing became general. Most of the Turkish prisoners were murdered despite the effort of the Greek kapetanioi to stop the firing. When Kioutahes or Reshit was informed about the slaughter, he swore for revenge.

After the events at Aghios Spuridon, Cochrane resumed his pressure for a march on Athens. He boasted that "tomorrow we will dine in the Acropolis and later we will raise the Greek flag on Aghia Sophia." On 22 April 1827, while the general was sick on his bed, some Cretans without any orders began a skirmish with Turkish troops. He rode to the place of the fight where he was shot in the stomach. O Yios tis kalogrias Without revealing anything to his men, he continued to give orders and after the battle returned to his tent. Although o yios tis kalogrias knew that the wound was mortal, continued to animate his men, who were weeping, and discussed with them without having lost his humor: "Fight for me and liberate the city of Athina. Give my sole property, my gun to my son." Georgios Karaiskakis died on his name day, 23 April 1827 and was buried at Salamina in the church of Aghios Demetrios. Cochrane insisted on his sick plan to attack to Acropolis. The Greek captains half-hearted accepted this plan and prepared for the battle. On the night of 24 April, 2500 Greeks disembarked at Phaliron, under the command of Makrygiannis, Vassos, Ioannes and Panagiotes Notaras, Kallergis, Kostas Botsaris, Veikos, Drakos, George Tzavelas, Ntousias, Nikolos Zervas and Igglesis. Next morning the cavalry of Reshit attacked to the Greek forces. Their losses were the worst they ever had in a single day. 1500 were killed, including 200 prisoners who were beheaded and their heads were sent to the sultan. Among the killed were Drakos, Veikos Lampros, Igglesis, Ntousias, Ioannes Notaras and Zervas. Seeing Zervas all his comrades falling to the ground, he charged with his horse inside the enemies crying:"Neither I want to live any more". On 24 May 1827, the Acropolis' garisson of some 2000 surrendered, through the mediation of the French admiral de Rigny. Later, the garisson was accused for this surrender, because the supplies of food and the water were enough for the defenders to hold for several months.

Bibliography

Constantine Paparhigopoulos - History of Helenic Nation
Spuridon Trikoupis - History of Greek Revolution
Makrygiannis' memoirs
Demetrios Ainian - Biography of George Karaiskakis
Samuel Gridley Howe - Historical Sketch of Greek Revolution
David Brewer - The Greek war of Independence

Fall    of Constantinople - 400 years opression March 25, 1821    - The outbreak
Battles    in Moreas - 1821 Battles    in Roumeli, Epirus, Macedonia, Crete - The first Government
War at Sea    - Hydra, Spetses, Psara Second year,    battles in Epirus, Rumeli, Moreas - Dervenakia
Greeks    divided - Death of Markos Mpotsaris Genocide    of Kasos, Psara 
Ibrahim's    invasion - 1825 Exodus    of Mesolonghion - Eleutheroi Poliorkimenoi
Yeorgios    Karaiskakis Naval    battle of Navarino - Arrival of Ioannes Kapodistrias
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