Part 17: Freedom's Home
Part 17: Freedom’s Home

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Markos Botsaris Leads the Attack on Agrinion


As the Egyptian Army of Ibrahim Pasha marched against Navarino, three Ottoman Armies began advancing south into Central Greece. The new Ottoman Serasker Resid Mehmed Pasha embarked upon a large-scale offensive against the Greeks in Southern Rumelia in conjunction with Ibrahim Pasha’s attacks in the Morea. In the east, his deputies Aslan Bey and Osman Aga launched an attack against the Greeks in Phthiotis and Phocis respectively, while in the West, Resid Pasha would personally lead the offensive against Missolonghi for the third time.[1] Missolonghi, more than any city within Greece, had become a bastion of defiance, of resistance, and of liberty. Sultan Mahmud’s obsession towards the city leaned towards mania, to the point that should Resid Pasha fail to capture Missolonghi, then his life would be forfeit.

Clearly, wishing to save his own life, Resid Pasha made every effort to succeed where his predecessors failed. To do so he gathered the largest Ottoman Army yet to be sent into Greece, over 30,000 strong, along with Aslan Bey’s 7,000 and Osman Aga’s 5,000, and thousands of other support personal and laborers, this was to be the single largest operation of the war. Resid also insisted on launching the offensive in early Spring as opposed to the Fall, to avoid the storms that plagued the prior two siege attempts. Despite their superior numbers, the Ottomans managed to make surprisingly little progress towards achieving their goals. In the East, Aslan Bey was quickly bogged down on the coastal road near Agios Konstantinos, while his compatriot Osman Aga fared even worse, only managing to advance 20 miles south of Lamia before he too was stopped just short of the hamlet of Bralos. Resid did the worst of all however.

Beginning on the 12th of April 1825, Resid Pasha, like Omer Vrioni and Mustafa Pasha Bushatli before him, discovered the innate difficulty in assailing Missolonghi. The setting of the city remained unchanged, with the swamp to the east and the Lagoon to the West and South, the main difference lay in the landward wall and various fortifications across the lagoon which had been significantly reinforced since the previous attack in November 1823. Over 5,000 Greek soldiers, militiamen, and klephts had gathered to defend the “Sacred City”, with 3,000 men in Missolonghi proper, 1,000 in Anatolikon, another 1,000 protecting the surrounding villages, islands, and sandbanks in the area. The city also boasted a contingent of Italian and German Philhellenes, veterans of the Napoleonic wars, trained in modern military tactics, and equipped with modern weapons, they posed a significant threat to the Ottoman forces.

Similarly, the mile-long land walls protecting Missolonghi had been improved as well. The height had been increased from 4ft in 1822 to nearly 10ft by the beginning of 1825, the width broadened from 2ft to nearly 5ft, and though it was still largely made of dirt and earth, brick and mortar had started to replace the earthen rampart in some areas.[2] Most impressively were the seventeen great bastions built into the wall by the engineer Michail Kokkinis. Each bastion was equipped with three of the town’s cannons and mortars, and each had been designed as triangular projections from the walls enabling the defenders to work in support of each other.

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The Wall of Missolonghi

Most importantly, defense of the city, fell to the newly appointed Governor General of Western Greece, Markos Botsaris, whose skill and loyalty had been deftly rewarded. Still, Botsaris opted to remain in the hills striking at the exposed rear of the Ottomans as he had done in the prior to sieges, rather than lead the defense of Missolonghi from behind its walls. Instead, he left his uncle, Notis Botsaris as commander of the city’s defense, while Markos assumed command of the entire theater. Notis Botsaris, despite being an old klepht in his 60's, still proved to be a spry individual who drove a hard bargain with the Nafplion government, to wring every man, every gun, and every Piastre he could from the state for his garrison.

To combat the improved Greek defenses, Resid Pasha utilized a scheme of his own to overcome them. Greek slaves brought in from Macedonia and Thessaly were used to dig the trenches and build the mounds of the Ottoman siegeworks. In doing so, the defenders within Missolonghi were forced to choose between firing upon their own countrymen or risk the encroachment of the Ottoman trenches on their position. In some cases, the trenches reached within a hundred yards of Missolonghi’s walls, resulting in the exchange of banter between sides during the breaks in the attack. While Resid had many more men than his predecessors, he surprisingly lacked in artillery, bringing only three cannons with him in April and by the end of the Summer, this number had only risen to eighteen. Without any substantial artillery with which to force his way into Missolonghi, Resid was relegated to waiting the Greeks out through blockade and starvation.

Resid Pasha’s attempts to starve the Greeks into submission would prove to be a complete failure as the Ottoman Navy's blockade of Missolonghi proved to be a total farce. The Greek ships which had mutinied over the winter, returned to service at the insistence of the government in return for back pay and bonuses, and despite the improved naval acumen of the Turks since the opening months of the war, the Greeks still remained the masters of the sea.[3] The liberation of Nafpaktos has also denied the Ottomans of a strategic port with which to support the blockade, instead it aided the Greeks in breaking that same blockade as the Ottoman navy in the region was forced to operate solely from Patras, stretching its resources to the limit. As a result, Greek smugglers regularly broke through the Turkish few ships patrolling the lagoon’s entrance, carrying loads of maize and grain, bullets and powder into the Missolonghi. The supply situation in Missolonghi was made even easier by the evacuation of the women and children of Missolonghi to Cephalonia in anticipation of the looming battle.

Rather than sending his men to seize the islands in the lagoon, and tightening the blockade, Resid opted instead to waste many Ottoman lives conducting fruitless assaults against the reinforced walls of Missolonghi or attempting to cross the Eastern Swamp. As with the previous attempts to cross the marsh, the Ottomans quickly became encumbered by the thick mud, leaving hundreds of men as sitting targets for the Greeks and Philhellenes atop the walls of Missolonghi. The attack on the 10th of May was especially bloody, as from atop the walls of Missolonghi one could see dead and dying men as far as the eye could see.

With direct assaults against Missolonghi a failure, Resid turned towards sapping the wall around Missolonghi. Engineers and slaves were brought in to dig the tunnel beneath the Greek’s defenses. While the tunnel had been expertly crafted, the chamber had remained unsealed when they detonated their bomb, likely due to sabotage by the slaves. Rather than driving the blast upward as intended into the city, the opening allowed the explosion to flow back up the tunnel catching several poor Turks and Greek slaves in the process. Catching wind of the Turkish initiative, the Greeks, with the aid of the Philhellenes, began construction of their own tunnel, which met with more success than the Ottomans. Completed in September, the Greeks promptly detonated their own mine underneath the Turkish trenches. The rumble from the explosion was so great that the whole ground shook beneath their feet. Soon, arms and legs, guts and entrails, among a menagerie of other body parts rained down from the sky blanketing the field below in a grisly spectacle of blood.

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Resid Pasha and the Explosion of the Greek Mine

By December, Resid was no closer to taking Missolonghi than he had been nearly 8 months prior. The coming of winter also signaled the start of the rainy season in Greece, making siege warfare an impossible task, as had been the case in the prior two attempts on Missolonghi. Resid, however, could not lift the siege, as that would invite his own demise at the hands of his irate Sultan. Instead, he chose to leave a small screening force behind to maintain the siege, while Resid and much of his army departed for winter quarters near Agrinion. This would prove to be his undoing.

The Greeks had been preparing their own attack against the Ottomans. Over the past few months, dispatches had been sent to Nafplion calling on reinforcements and additional forces to lift the siege, and while the Government agreed in part on the need for action, there was little they could do. Ibrahim was still loose in the Morea, with nearly the entire western half of the peninsula lost to him, and the offenses in Phocis and Phthiotis had managed some successes in the closing days of fall, advancing further south. The Government, despite these problems committed 1,000 men to aid Missolonghi, far shorter than the 8,000 requested.[4] Still it was better than nothing and with the withdraw of a large portion of the enemy force into Winter quarters, they were now free to commence their operation.

On the 11th of January 1826, members of the Missolonghi garrison traveled under the cover of darkness across the lagoon with the aid of the local fishermen, who promptly ferried nearly 2,000 of the cities garrison to a meeting point just north of Anatolikon. There they joined with Markos Botsaris and his Souliotes, Georgios Karaiskakis and his klephts, and the men dispatched by the Nafplion government. Making sure not to alert the Ottomans still outside Missolonghi, the Greeks made slow progress towards Agrinion where Resid and his main force were located. Unsuspecting of a Greek attack in the dead of winter, Resid Pasha had left his guard down, the lack of activity reported from his men at Missolonghi had loosened his watch. Arriving outside Agrinion on the 13th, the Greeks made ready to attack the Ottomans in the dead of night.

In the chaos that followed Resid was slain by a Souliot, bearing a close resemblance to Botsaris, when he exited from his tent, still wearing his nightgown and sleeping cap. The death of their commander sent the already demoralized and downtrodden Ottomans besieging Missolonghi into a tailspin. Many men began fleeing for the hills, most surrendered on the spot, but what was certain is that the fight left the Ottomans in that moment. Then only seconds later they regained it as 3,000 Egyptians rushed onto the field of Agrinion right into the rear of the Greek force.

The Vanguard of Ibrahim Pasha had arrived to reinforce the Ottoman siege effort at Missolonghi, too late to save Resid Pasha, but it arrived in time to save his army from complete annihilation. With the arrival of fresh reinforcements, the Ottomans quickly began to reorganize and fight off the Greeks who were themselves forced to retreat to Missolonghi, and barely two weeks later the Fourth Siege began.

Greece Timeline Map Part 17 Freedom's Home(1).png

Greece on the 13th of January 1826
Purple – Greece
Green – Ottoman Empire
Pink – The United States of the Ionian Islands​

Next Time: Glory’s Grave


[1] The attacks by Aslan Bey and Osman Aga are diversionary attacks meant to draw attention away from Missolonghi.

[2] This reinforcement of the land wall was done at the insistence of Alexandros Mavrokordatos and Lord Byron both in OTL and in TTL. Sadly, most of the wall no longer exists due to the heavy damage it received during the war and modern develop in Missolonghi. The bastions of Missolonghi were originally named after famous revolutionaries like Benjamin Franklin, William of Orange, Skanderbeg, etc. Eventually though, these names were replaced by more generic titles like great bastion or Terrible, etc.

[3] The skill gap between the Ottoman navy and the Greek navy is closing, but it is still decidedly in the Greeks favor in 1825. The Ottomans also lack the naval bases from which to operate from. They do have Patras, Rio, and Antirrio, but Patras can only support so many ships and the latter two are essentially glorified fishing hovels with giant castles next to them.

[4] The defenders of Missolonghi in the OTL siege did indeed ask for help from the Greek Government. They initially planned to attack Resid’s force over the winter with the help of reinforcements from the Greek government, but nothing actually happened and by the time they could do something, Ibrahim Pasha arrived with his army. The Winter of 1825/1826 was arguably the best opportunity the Greeks had to break the Third Siege of Missolonghi, but they were in a terrible situation at that point with most of the Morea and Central Greece under Ottoman and Egyptian control by the start of 1826.
 
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Ouch. I don't predict a very good fate for Missolonghi. Might have butterflies on the rest of Greece if more of Ibrahim's army ends up occupied there.
 
Ouch. I don't predict a very good fate for Missolonghi. Might have butterflies on the rest of Greece if more of Ibrahim's army ends up occupied there.
It probably won't be a very nice engagement for anyone involved. With Resid Pasha no longer among the living and a decent portion of the Ottoman army either dead or missing, Ibrahim and his men are going to be forced to take up a lot of the slack at Missolonghi. Unfortunately for the Greeks and the Egyptians, Sultan Mahmud's obsession with the city is very much a real thing, both in OTL and TTL, and he is willing to pay almost any price to take it. That said, Ibrahim is not as willing. He has no claim to the city, unlike the Morea, and it now falls primarily on his Egyptians to take Missolonghi. If the Greeks were willing to leave Missolonghi, Ibrahim might just let them go.
 
That would be very interesting, but I agree its highly unlikely and borderline ASB. Napoleon II is currently in Austria under the thumb of Metternich and Metternich was notoriously hostile to Greece gaining independence up to official Greek independence in 1832. There is also the matter of the other Great Powers accepting him as King of Greece which also seems unlikely to happen. So while it would make for a fascinating scenario I can't reasonably justify it in the current context of the timeline.

As for Leopold and Otto....no comment.:p


Hmmmmm........


Leo, King of the Hellenes.......sounds great !!!
 
Hmmmmm........


Leo, King of the Hellenes.......sounds great !!!
Leopold or Leo I, would most likely be given the title King of Hellas rather than King of the Hellenes by the Great Powers. King of the Hellenes implies that he is the King of all the Greeks, not just the Greeks in Greece, but also the Greeks in the Ottoman Empire and as such it undercuts the authority of the Ottoman Empire if some neighboring monarch is claiming to be the rightful ruler of a fifth of your people, and also laying claim to a large section of your territory as well. King of Hellas is a more limited title that should cause less conflict with the Ottoman Sultans. King of Hellas was also the OTL title given to Otto when he was made King of Greece and it was the title intended for Leopold as well in the 1830 London Conference. Now this all could change later on, say upon the succession of Leopold's son to the throne.

But this all implies that Leopold of Saxe-Coburg becomes King of Greece in this timeline.;)
 
Leopold or Leo I, would most likely be given the title King of Hellas rather than King of the Hellenes by the Great Powers. King of the Hellenes implies that he is the King of all the Greeks, not just the Greeks in Greece, but also the Greeks in the Ottoman Empire and as such it undercuts the authority of the Ottoman Empire if some neighboring monarch is claiming to be the rightful ruler of a fifth of your people, and also laying claim to a large section of your territory as well. King of Hellas is a more limited title that should cause less conflict with the Ottoman Sultans. King of Hellas was also the OTL title given to Otto when he was made King of Greece and it was the title intended for Leopold as well in the 1830 London Conference. Now this all could change later on, say upon the succession of Leopold's son to the throne.

But this all implies that Leopold of Saxe-Coburg becomes King of Greece in this timeline.;)

Rump Greece confirmed! I was hoping the Greeks and Egyptians could team up to split the Empire. Shame, but of course it was practically ASB.
 
Rump Greece confirmed! I was hoping the Greeks and Egyptians could team up to split the Empire. Shame, but of course it was practically ASB.
Sadly Megali Greece in 1830 is pretty much impossible with my POD and even if they somehow managed to conquer all of that territory the Quintuple Alliance would never allow it to control keep it. That said, they will do better in terms of territory than OTL.
 
Part 18: Glory's Grave
Part 18: Glory’s Grave

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The Escape from Missolonghi



On the 29th of November 1825, a fleet of 135 Egyptian ships arrived in Patras harbor from Alexandria. Onboard were fresh soldiers, additional supplies, and new orders from Muhammad Ali of Egypt. Ibrahim Pasha and his army were to travel north to Aetolia, there they would join Resid Mehmed Pasha and the Ottoman Army in the ongoing siege of Missolonghi. The timing of this dispatch could not be worse for Ibrahim. After nine long months of campaigning, the Egyptians were on the cusp of finally crushing the Greek resistance in the Western Morea and what’s more, Ibrahim had made significant progress in his own efforts to besiege Tripolitsa, an effort which would now have to be abandoned until his return, whenever that would be. While men would remain behind to hold the castles and occupy the major cities, they were not enough to hold the countryside which would most likely return to the Greeks.[1]

Despite his reluctance, Ibrahim could not easily ignore these orders. While they were in his father’s handwriting they carried with them the Sultan’s words and his seal. To refuse, would mean the abdication of his claims to the Morea and his father’s control over Crete and Cyprus along with a host of other problems. Forced to comply, Ibrahim dispatched his brother in law, Hussein Bey at the head of his vanguard when the weather finally permitted on the 12th of January. Ibrahim would follow suit one week later after he finished what business he could in the Morea before embarking to Missolonghi with the rest of his army. What he discovered when he arrived there alarmed him.

Resid Pasha was dead, and his army had begun to unravel after a daring raid by the Greeks. Nearly 4,000 of the 21,000 men Resid still had with him before his death were lost, either dead, captured, or missing.[2] Were it not for the swift actions of Hussein Bey and his men, the Ottoman army outside Missolonghi would have likely been destroyed. Rallying the fleeing Ottoman and Albanian soldiers, around his Egyptians, Hussein Bey struck back at the marauding Greeks. In the ensuing Egyptian counterattack, Georgios Karaiskakis was killed and the Greeks were forced back into Missolonghi. Markos Botsaris, ever the fox he was, escaped into the hills with some of his Souliotes where he continued to harass the Ottomans from.

Though Ibrahim’s arrival did much to improve the Ottoman morale, all traces of order and discipline within the Ottoman camp had evaporated by the middle of January. Even after assuming command over the survivors, many men continued to desert the army citing the bad weather, poor pay, and terrible conditions. They disobeyed his orders, they dragged their feet, and they openly challenged his authority, forcing Ibrahim to spend much of his first month outside Missolonghi instilling order into the Turkish and Albanian forces available to him. During that time, nearly 600 men were executed for desertion and treasonous acts. He punished those who lacked proper discipline and he drilled them endlessly to get them into fighting shape. The cold also proved to be problematic for Ibrahim as most of his men were used to the hot deserts of North Africa or Arabia and ill-suited for the winter weather of Europe. As a result, nearly a 1,300 Egyptians would die from the cold or from the illnesses it brought with it over January and February alone. Still, Ibrahim managed to bring the Turks and Egyptians together by sheer willpower alone, commencing the Fourth Siege of Missolonghi on the 26th of January.
Unlike Resid’s failed siege attempt on Missolonghi, Ibrahim’s was to be more inspired. Within days, the noose surrounding the city began to tighten as trenches were gradually dug closer and closer to Missolonghi’s walls. Unlike Resid’s holes in the ground, Ibrahim’s furrows were orderly, composed, and constructed with purpose. Ibrahim also brought with him a massive artillery train, numbering 52 cannons and 10 mortars, along with tens of thousands of shots and shells, although it would take over three more weeks to haul it the ten miles from Krioneri to outside Missolonghi.
[3]​

The Egyptian fleet also reinforced the weak Ottoman blockade of Missolonghi, effectively cutting it off by sea and secured the Western Islands of the lagoon by the beginning of February. Despite the addition of the Ottoman forces to his own, Ibrahim had barely 30,000 men, barely more than what Resid had last Spring.

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An Egyptian Soldier at Missolonghi

Still, Ibrahim’s situation was much improved over Resid’s as the Greeks had taken significant losses at Agrinion, nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 men dispatched on the mission had been lost and most of those that returned to Missolonghi suffered from battle wounds or frostbite. Additionally, many women and children had returned to Missolonghi over the Winter to be with their husbands and sons, fathers and brothers over the Christmas season. While this boosted morale for the Greeks, it also stretched their dubious food situation even further. Still, many women pulled their weight, taking positions upon the ramparts, working as nurses in the hospitals and sick camps in the city, and helping with the movement of guns and munitions across the lagoon.

Before beginning his attack against Missolonghi, Ibrahim opted for diplomacy. He cared not for the city or its environs, he merely wished to return to the Morea as soon as possible to stake his claim there as he had been promised. The Greeks however, refused his offers of peace on three separate occasions from January to February, assuming surrender could lead to their executions or enslavements at the hands of the vengeful Turks. With his attempts at negotiation a failure, Ibrahim was now forced to fight. On the 26th of February, Ibrahim unleashed his artillery upon the "fence" of Missolonghi. For nearly three days, the Egyptian artillery fired shot after shot, shell after shell upon the poor town of Missolonghi. Buildings were destroyed and great damage was being done to Missolonghi and yet the wall remained standing through it all. Following the end of the artillery barrage on the 28th, the Egyptians launched a series of assaults against the Greek defenses. Despite the incessant artillery fire, the Greeks suffered few casualties from it and managed to repel the attacking Egyptians on three separate attacks. Ibrahim came to learn, as his predecessors had before that to take Missolonghi, he would need to take its lagoon.

Barges were constructed by the hundreds to seize the water from the Greek fisherman and deny the Missolongiotes of its supply of fish. By mid-March, his fleet was complete and he began to set his eyes on the various Greek defenses across the lagoon. His first target was the island of Vasiladhi in the center of the lagoon. Nearly 100 Greeks had taken up positions on the island to defend it, along with 14 guns, most of which were 12 or 18 pounders. To take the island, Ibrahim assembled 82 small vessels, and over 1,000 men for the attack beginning on the 10th of March. The attack on the first day was beaten back with heavy losses, but the attack on the second succeeded when the Greeks exhausted their ammunition, spiked their guns, and fled across the lagoon to Missolonghi. The next to fall were the islands of Dolmas and Poros in the north near Anatolikon. Due to their proximity to the shoreline, the Egyptian artillery easily managed to batter the Greeks on the island into submission, bringing about their surrender on the 15th of March.

Anatolikon, now isolated with the fall of Dolmas and Poros, was similarly placed under siege by Ibrahim. Ibrahim controlling all routes to and from Anatolikon, quickly began to reduce its defenses with a withering storm of artillery fire from both land and seas as his gunboats in the water fired mercilessly on the small island. Despite the best efforts by Missolonghi to aid the Greeks there, a sortie attempt against the Egyptians was thrown back with heavy casualties, the garrison was ultimately forced to capitulate on the 25th of March when the munitions depot on the island was accidentally destroyed by the defenders. The loss of Anatolikon, Dolmas, Poros, and Vasiladhi reduced the Greeks to a small corner of the lagoon. By the 5th of April, all that remained outside of Missolonghi was the island of Klisova to its southeast.

Ibrahim would face his stiffest resistance yet on Klisova, which was little more than an old convent surrounded by a short wooden wall. To take the island, Ibrahim readied 2,000 men, a mix of Turks and Egyptians, under the command of his deputy Hussein Bey. At first, barely 100 Greeks were stationed upon Klisova when the attack came, but once the fighting commenced, men rushed to defend the island by the dozens. Under the leadership of the Souliot Kitsos Tzavelas, the Greeks managed to make short work of the attacking Ottomans who made slow progress approaching the island. Klisova sat in the shallowest corner of the lagoon where even Ibrahim’s rafts could not reach, leaving the Egyptians and Turks to trudge through the thick mud and water. Despite using their boats as shields, the Ottomans were cut down in staggering numbers and were ultimately forced to retreat when Hussein Bey suffered a terrible wound to the chest. Ibrahim, now forced to lead the attack, move on the island with 4,000 men and ultimately managed to drive the Greeks from the island on the 7th of April. Missolonghi was now isolated.

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The Battle of Klisova

At a great expense in Egyptian and Turkish blood, Ibrahim had managed to close the noose around Missolonghi. The last major supply drops in Missolonghi had been in late January when the Hydriot Andreas Miaoulis, broke through the blockade to deliver over 250 tons of Maize to the city, which by early April had been nearly exhausted. The local fishermen could no longer supply the city and its defenders with fish as the Egyptians now controlled the lagoon in its entirety. If Ibrahim had wanted it he could have simply waited them out, even still, he offered surrender, albeit on harsh terms. Despite the deteriorating condition around them the Greeks refused once more and prepared themselves for the final phase of the siege. Their only hope came from vague promises of relief from the Nafplion Government and the belief that Markos Botsaris would come to save them as he had done three times before.

Botsaris, seeking to repeat the successful raids of 1823, began attacking Ibrahim’s supply lines. Ibrahim, however, was mainly supplied by sea, and the while the Souliotes had some success on land disrupting the travel between Missolonghi and Krioneri, they had no means of challenging the Egyptians naval prowess. Nor did the Greek Government, which returned to the political factiousness which had so divided in 1824. Days were wasted in conference in the Third National Assembly regarding the powers of the Executive, the creation of a new Government, and the typical problems of politics. The belief that Missolonghi would find a way to prevail as it had done several times before was widespread among the Senators and Delegates in Nafplion, who largely ignored the calls for aid from Missolonghi. Their behavior is likely due to the continued reluctance of the London Greek Committee to release its custody of the Second loan to the Greeks in response to their earlier schism. Manpower was also limited with the Eastern offensives churning forward once again and the Moreots occupied reclaiming the Eastern parts of Elis and Achaea. Even if they had the means to combat Ibrahim, their results would likely have been the same as they had been in the Morea. Help would not be coming from the Government, but the Missolongiotes did remain in contact with Botsaris and his men near Dhervekista to the East.

Conditions steadily declined within Missolonghi over the month of April as the food and water supplies neared exhaustion. When Admiral Miaoulis and a fleet of 60 ships attempted to force their way into the lagoon on the 10th of April, most were repelled and forced to flee after dealing significant damage to the Egyptian navy, sinking six ships and capturing two more. The island of Vasiladhi in the center of Missolonghi's lagoon was also liberated by the Greeks, albeit briefly as Ibrahim soon reclaimed it at a high cost in Ottomans and Egyptians. Only Miaoulis' flagship and four other Greek vessels managed to reach Missolonghi unloading their precious cargo of food and munitons to the hungry masses within Missolonghi before making their escape. Sadly, the grain and maize brought by Miaoulis would only last another two and a half weeks at most, providing the Missolongiotes with a brief reprieve from starvation and famine.

Over time, talks of escape or surrender became more prevalent as hopes of victory diminished. With surrender unacceptable, the Greek military and civilian leaders began their preparations to evacuate the city on the 29th, the Eve of Easter Sunday. Under the cover of night, ramps would be placed over the moat, and then they would make their escape. Only the dead, dying, and those too sick and frail to move would remain behind, a sum of maybe 300 people out of the remaining 9,000 combatants and civilians in Missolonghi, of which nearly half were women and children. Dispatches were sent out to relay this information to Botsaris in the hopes that he could aid them with whatever forces he had available to him. It was a desperate plan, a hopeless plan, but a plan none the less, and it was certainly better than waiting to die in Missolonghi or surrendering to the Ottomans.

By the 29th, no response had returned from Botsaris and fears began to rise within Missolonghi, but with no other choice the Greeks ventured forth once night had fallen over Greece. First to move out was Notis Botsaris, the garrison commander, and 1,000 soldiers, then the civilians followed, all 4,000 of them under the guard of Demetrios Makris and another 1,000 fighters. Last to leave was Kitsos Tzavelas and the remainder of the garrison who waited until the last moment before departing Missolonghi. The Greeks were aided immensely in their escape by the moonless night which hid their movements from any Turkish or Egyptian sentries that lay up ahead. As they progressed across the plain, they soon heard gunfire beginning to ring out far to the East, 2,000 shots, maybe more, but it was soon clear that Botsaris had received their message and was doing his utmost to aid them.[4]

Ibrahim Pasha had also received word of the Missolongiotes’ intentions, but either in a failed attempt to bait them into a trap or simply wishing to get rid of most of the enemy through minimal effort on his part, Ibrahim did little to prevent their escape. His cavalry did harry them all through the night, but by morning the Greeks reached the relative safety of the hills where Markos Botsaris and his men drove the pursuing Egyptian cavalry back. In total nearly 7,800 Greeks managed to escape Missolonghi to Dhervekista and Nafpaktos. Whatever his reasoning may be, Ibrahim received the surrender of the few remaining Greeks within Missolonghi the next day. The city had been won but at an incredibly high cost. Ibrahim lost nearly 7,000 of his Egyptians and nearly 15,000 Turks and Albanians had been lost since the original siege began last April. While the Missolongiotes remained a sizeable force, they were no longer his concern, as with Missolonghi in Ottoman hands, he was now free to return to the Morea and win his real prize.

Greece Timeline Map Part 17 or part 18 Glory's Grave(1).png

Greece in May of 1826
Purple – Greece
Green – Ottoman Empire
Pink – The United States of the Ionian Islands​

Next Time: The Governor of Greece


[1] Ibrahim was essentially on his own in the Morea as the Ottomans would not help him conquer it. As such he was forced to garrison all the castles and cities with his own men limiting the number he had available for campaigning. Of the roughly 30,000 Egyptians dispatched to the Morea between 1825 and 1827, Ibrahim would only have access to half of them at any one point due to casualties and the constant need to occupy territory that hated him.

[2] The casualties for the Ottomans and Egyptians were very high during the Third Siege of Missolonghi, with Ibrahim losing over 5,000 men between January and April 1826. The Ottoman casualties are unknown but they would be at least comparable to the Egyptians if not worse, seeing as they had been attacking Missolonghi for 8 additional months. That said the Spring of 1826 was especially bloody at Missolonghi.

[3] Ibrahim lacked pack mules. As a result, he was forced to utilize his men to move his artillery and supplies.

[4] In OTL, Karaiskakis was in correspondence with the Greeks in Missolonghi. He allegedly promised to aid them in their escape, but his promised aid never materialized. Karaiskakis, while a brave man by means, he was also incredibly opportunistic and had a strong sense of self preservation. Markos Botsaris was a selfless individual in comparison and I fully believe that he would have aided the Missolongiotes to the best of his ability.
 
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I have no idea how this is relative to OTL.
There are two major differences here and several minor ones.

The first major difference is that Resid Mehmed Pasha, the Ottoman Serasker and commander of the siege of Missolonghi was killed in a Greek sortie on January 13th, 1826. In OTL, he worked alongside Ibrahim Pasha to capture the city of Missolonghi in April and he was largely responsible for preventing the escape of the Greeks in their famous sortie. He was later responsible for capture of Athens in 1827 which earned him a promotion to Grand Vizier, he orchestrated the Monastir Massacre of the Albanian Beys and Agas in 1830, and he defeated the Bosnian uprising in 1833. Resid was also a relatively competent Ottoman commander, although the Third Siege of Missolonghi is a bad example both in OTL and TTL, so his death will hurt the Ottomans in the coming months. Also the fact that the Egyptians were the ones responsible for the fall of Missolonghi will not go unnoticed especially in Alexandria.

The second big difference is the successful escape of the Greeks from Missolonghi. In OTL, nearly the entire garrison and civilian populace of Missolonghi was lost after the failed sortie attempt on the 22nd. Though some managed to escape, most didn't and were either killed by the Ottomans or drowned in the lagoon. Some even managed to make it back to Missolonghi, but those that did make it back behind the walls didn't last long either as they detonated the munitions depot in the city killing themselves and a sizeable number of the Ottoman soldiers as they entered the city. Of the 9,000 Greeks that attempted to escape from Missolonghi, less than 1,500 managed to reach safety. The fall of Missolonghi signaled the end of any cohesive resistance by the Greeks North of the Gulf of Corinth, with Athens as the only major Greek stronghold remaining in Central Greece. The survival of the Missolongiotes as a relevant force prevents the Ottomans from focusing elsewhere. So while the Ottomans won a victory, it is a rather meaningless victory in the scheme of things as the Greeks simply moved from Missolonghi to Mount Zigos, Dhervekista, Nafpaktos, and the surrounding area.

Aside from that, the Greeks held out a little longer which is important considering the ongoing 4th National Assembly, and they inflicted a lot more casualties on the Ottomans and Egyptians primarily due to Markos Botsaris' more active participation in the Siege of Missolonghi as opposed to Georgios Karaiskakis' less than adequate support. The casualties Ibrahim suffered will be especially hampering to his offensive capabilites as he can only be reinforced by sea, which will become very problematic for him soon enough as well.
 
So the sortie of Missolonghi doesn't become the most famous disaster of the war, Karaiskakis doesn't become one of the 4 or 5 most famous revolutionary heroes of Greece and Roumeli isn't doomed to fall. I wonder how Kapodistrias will react to this situation, which still looks pretty bad without hindsight.
 
So the sortie of Missolonghi doesn't become the most famous disaster of the war, Karaiskakis doesn't become one of the 4 or 5 most famous revolutionary heroes of Greece and Roumeli isn't doomed to fall. I wonder how Kapodistrias will react to this situation, which still looks pretty bad without hindsight.
The situation for the Greeks is bad, but it certainly isn't as bad as OTL where they only controlled some islands, parts of Attica, most of Argolis, and most of Corinthia by the fall of Missolonghi. Here, in addition to that, they still control much of the Morean interior thanks to their control of Tripolitsa, and they still have a few major outposts in Southern Rumelia/Central Greece with Amphissa, and Nafpaktos although these two are now at risk. The escape of the Missolonghi garrison and civilian populace should help to bolster their remaining strongholds in the region at least until help can arrive.

This last part was actually the hardest for me as I wanted to save Missolonghi from falling but I couldn't come up with a reasonable solution for that. It's my understanding of the Ottoman strategy in general and Sultan Mahmud in particular, that they were going to keep sending men at Missolonghi until they took the city, or until the Powers intervened to end the war, which isn't going to happen without Missolonghi falling. While the Powers were slowly moving towards intervention prior to its fall, it was the events of the Third Siege which provided the last push for the Great Powers towards that intervention. I don't want to spoil too much but one of the next parts will focus extensively on the Great Powers and their reactions to the recent events. The fall of Missolonghi also resulted in a lot of soul searching and reforms on the part of the Greeks which were mostly beneficial to them.

Karaiskakis will still be a hero, although he probably won't be in the top 5. His heroics during the 2nd Siege of Athens, which ultimately resulted on his death, were very impressive to say the least, but his performance during the 3rd Siege of Missolonghi was pretty lousy as well. He was overly cautious in attacking the Ottomans and Egyptians, and he did next to nothing to aid the sortie attempt resulting in the OTL disaster. Here he dies a hero's death at Agrinion.

Kapodistrias will react poorly, albeit not as poorly as OTL which should have some limiting effects on his power grab.
 
Part 19: The Governor of Greece
Part 19: The Governor of Greece

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Count Ioannis Kapodistrias, Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire and Governor of Greece

The Assembly Hall was in an uproar. As with the two prior Assemblies, the Third National Assembly had been called to remedy the many maladies plaguing Greece. Yet as was the case in the previous two attempts, this one quickly degenerated into a shouting match between the 178 delegates in attendance. Voting over the new Executive had gone nowhere, the plans on the creation of a new office ranking above the Executive had also stalled, and while there was some movement on the revisions to the constitution many of the finer details had met with staunch opposition. Just as Alexandros Mavrokordatos took to the floor to deliver the latest update on the constitution’s amendments, a messenger arrived from Missolonghi. The Assembly had received a plethora of dispatches from Missolonghi over the past month, most requesting aid and as a result most of the delegates paid the man little interest as he approached the front of the crowd. Believing this one to be no different Mavrokordatos took the parchment from the messenger and began to read it aloud. Surprisingly, there were only three words written upon the paper and the moment he read them, the color faded from his face. “Missolonghi has fallen.”

The Assembly Hall immediately fell silent, a silence that would last for minutes, maybe even hours. Men fell to their knees and wept quietly, others simply walked away in a daze not to be seen again for hours, and according to one account of the event the Missolongiot Spiridhon Trikoupis even attempted to drown himself in the Argolic only to be saved by some onlookers. Their despondence was shared by all the people of Greece for the sacred city had fallen, and they had done little to save it. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity some men roused from their stupor only to replace it with fear.

Panic slowly began to grip the assembly hall, as members grew fearful as to where the next hammer strike might fall now that their shield had been broken. Nafpaktos seemed likely as it was only some twenty miles away to the East of Missolonghi. Salona was itself already under siege by the Ottomans and it would surely fall soon as well leaving Athens exposed to attacks from the north. Tripolitsa was clearly the next target for Ibrahim Pasha now that he was free to return to the Morea, he could even strike at Nafplion once again and capture the whole government of Greece if he chose to. No longer wanting to play their petty political games, many men began running for the doors as most simply sought to save themselves and their kin before it was too late, but as they did they found the door blocked by a single man. In the doorway was the Souliot Markos Botsaris who had made the 240-mile journey to Nafplion from Missolonghi in the span of 6 days.

Though he was not an eloquent speaker, and the journey had surely fatigued him, Botsaris gave an impassioned speech calling on those assembled to return to their work, to put aside their petty quarrels, and to continue working for the good of all Greece. For if they did not then they would dishonor those who had fallen to protect and they would surely see the failures of Missolonghi repeat themselves across the rest of Greece. Whether they were emboldened by the Souliot’s words or they simply wished to preserve their own pride, most delegates quietly returned to their seats and set about finishing their work for the Assembly.

After a quick prayer for those lost in the defense of their homeland, the delegates returned to the task at hand, the amending of the Constitution and the replacement of the 5-member Executive with a single officer, the Governor of Greece. Despite the stiff opposition only hours before the measures all passed with relatively little debate in the following days. The New Constitution of Greece, or the Nafplion Constitution dissolved the old Executive branch, with its powers and responsibilities transferred to the new office of the Governor of Greece. The Governor would serve a seven-year term and he could not legally be removed from office once appointed. He had authority over all matters related to the war effort, but his ability to finance and supply the military was dependent upon the Senate’s dispensing of funds. The Governor had the power of a suspending veto, but not an absolute veto, and he could not dissolve the Senate under any circumstances. The Governor was empowered to appoint ministers and deputies, but only with the consent of the Senate. The Governor’s Ministers were themselves made inviolable and entrusted with all powers necessary to the fulfillment of their respective duties.

The Senate also experienced some minor changes to stabilize the branch. Elections were now scheduled to be held for only a third of the 70 Senators every year, as opposed to the previous model where every senator needed to seek reelection every year. Additionally, the Senate would appoint a Government Commission to conduct the war, run the country, and negotiate with foreign powers until the Governor took office. Most importantly, the Constitution of Nafplion established the premise of Popular Sovereignty in Greece as the power of government was derived primarily from the people of Greece themselves.

The only question remaining was who to name as Governor. They needed a strong leader to fill the position, a man that could effectively administer Greece and provide it with a credible face to the international community, a man that was well respected in the courts of Europe and who would unite the disparate Greeks behind him. There was only one choice, and the vote to elect him was unanimous. On the 10th of May 1826, the Third National Assembly elected Ioannis Kapodistrias as Governor of Greece.[1]

Count Ioannis Kapodistrias was a renowned figure throughout Europe for his diplomatic prowess. The man was a nobleman in every sense of the word, he carried himself with grace and he lived a magnificent lifestyle at the Imperial Court in St. Petersburg, Russia. Yet despite his grandiosity, he was a thoroughly philanthropic man who cared very much for the plight of the common man. Kapodistrias was born on the island of Corfu during the last days of the Venetian Republic, where he lived free of the rule of the Ottomans. Kapodistrias as the son of a powerful Corfiot nobleman had the means to choose his future profession and so the young Kapodistrias elected to study medicine at the University of Padua so that he could best serve his fellow man as a physician.[2] Upon the completion of his studies in 1797, Ioannis returned to Corfu where he soon witnessed the collapse of Venetian rule in the Ionian Islands and the arrival of the French Revolution. Upon their ouster by the Ottomans and Russians in 1799, the Russians appointed Kapodistrias as manager of the Military hospital on Corfu and then later appointed him General Secretary of the Septinsular Republic in 1802.

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Corfu, the Birthplace of Ioannis Kapodistrias

When France returned to the Ionian islands in 1807 with the Treaty of Tilsit, Kapodistrias remained loyal to the Russians and chose to travel to the Court of Tsar Alexander I where he would remain for the next fifteen years of his life. During his time in Russia, he quickly rose through the ranks earning himself the prestigious office of Foreign Minister in 1816.
Even with his powerful standing in Russia, the Count remained loyal only to Greece and beseeched the Tsar to assist their Orthodox brothers during their time of struggle. Despite his strong veneration for the Tsar, the tentative aid offered by Alexander to the Greeks was not enough for Kapodistrias and ultimately, he resigned as Foreign Minister in 1822 when it became clear he could do no more in St. Petersburg.

Though he technically remained a subject of the Tsar, for the next four years Ioannis Kapodistrias lived in Geneva, Switzerland where he used his fame, wealth, and reputation to garner support for the Greek cause from the shadows. While he retained a public persona of a withdrawn retired figure, it was in fact a ploy meant to gain greater concessions from the Greek government. So, it was when word reached him in the Fall of 1826, that he had been elected Governor of Greece, the Count cast off his shroud of reluctance and redoubled his efforts to aid the Greeks.

Before leaving for Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias, planned a grand tour of any state in Europe that would have him, to generate support and good will for the Greeks and to ascertain their support for his office. Traveling first to Paris, Kapodistrias, met with Joseph de Villele and the Baron de Damas from whom he received their tentative support for his Governorship of Greece. From June to August, he was in St. Petersburg, where he finally received a release from his service to the Russian Empire with the full blessing of Tsar Nicolas I. From Russia, Ioannis Kapodistrias traveled to Berlin and then onto London where he met with George Canning the British Foreign Secretary and then traveled once again to Paris. While in London, Kapodistrias was hosted by Lord Byron who introduced him to the leading Philhellenes of Britain and together they raised a sum surmounting £24,000 for the Corfiot and the Greeks. His last stop before departing for Greece was Switzerland where he bid farewell to his friends and associates of the past four years, sold his manor and all his worldly possessions before heading to the port of Marseille. Unfortunately, his grand tour had been rather unsuccessful in ginning up any tangible support for Greece, there would be no soldiers, no subsidies, no loans, no firm commitments, not yet anyway. His business settled, Kapodistrias departed from Marseille for Greece on the 1st of January 1827.

Arriving on the 27th of January after some delays due to the weather and roundabout pathing to avoid the patrols of the Ottoman Navy, Ioannis Kapodistrias was met with wild applause and jubilation from the large crowd that had gathered to meet him as he landed at Nafplion. The Greece he witnessed was very troubled indeed; the state was on the verge of bankruptcy, the armies had been pushed to their breaking points, and the Government remained divided despite the best efforts of some men to bring about order and unity to it. But it was the people of Greece who had truly suffered, many had been forced from their homes and left to fend for themselves. Refugees from the North living on the streets were a common sight in Nafplion and all the cities of Greece for that matter and the sight of it deeply saddened the Count. Ioannis Kapodistrias immediately put himself to work to save his country in any way that he could. He devoted himself fully to aiding his people, working from the crack of dawn until the dead of night every day from his first day in Greece until his last.

Accepting the office of Governor of Greece, Kapodistrias set about issuing reforms to enhance the administration of the state, reforms that went well beyond his authority under the law. Still the Senate allowed him some leeway regarding his power owing to his talents and their own personal divisions. Kapodistrias reorganized the military, curtailing the autonomy of the individual commanders and klephts effectively subjugating them to the state. He established a Secretariat of the Army, and a Secretariat of the Navy. He established a military academy for young men in Nafplion. He organized a corps of engineers and incorporated French and Russian structures and tactics into the nascent Greek Military.

Kapodistrias spearheaded the creation of a new Greek currency, the Phoenix, with the loan of 1,500,000 Russian Rubles from the Russian Tsar, freeing the Greeks from the collapsing Ottoman Piastre. He instated quarantines across Greece in an effort to reel in the various pandemics that were ravaging the countryside. Kapodistrias constructed dozens of schools, hospitals, and orphanages across Greece. He promoted the entrance of women into the workforce, albeit mostly charitable work, establishing foundations and universities for Greek women. He established a courier system for private mail and military dispatches. He also introduced potatoes to Greece, and while they were unpopular at first, Kapodistrias goaded the Greeks into eating and growing them by posting guards outside the warehouse where they were stored. Peeking the curiosity of the local Moreots, the potatoes were quickly stolen and effectively incorporated into the Greek diet. These efforts were relatively popular amongst the Greeks, but his attempts to reform the State were not.

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The Phoenix

Kapodistrias found himself increasingly isolated amongst the Greek leadership, his only allies being a few of the Philhellenes, the peasantry, the diplomat Spiridhon Trikoupis, and the Generals Yannis Makriyannis and Demetrios Ypsilantis, upon whose support he increasingly became reliant upon, yet it was not enough.[3] His desire to abolish the Senate was met with disapproval and opposition by his few remaining supporters, forcing him to withdraw the motion from consideration. When he attempted to appoint regional governors to rein in the more independent provinces of Greece, like the Mani and Hydra, the Primates and Ship lords in the Senate finally had enough with the Count’s reforms. To Kapodistrias, the Primates of the Morea and the Ship lords of the Islands were no better than vultures feasting upon the toils of the common man. The Phanariotes were also scorned by the Count as vessels of Satan and the klephts were no better than brigands in his eyes. By the end of 1827 Ioannis Kapodistrias found himself censured by the Senate for overstepping his authority, leaving him effectively powerless regarding the internal affairs of Greece.

The only avenue still open to him was foreign policy, which had been relatively positive thus far. His grand tour of Europe had initially met with little success but in the following months, the Powers finally began to move towards intervention and mediation in the Greek War of Independence. What’s more, Russia threatened war.

Next Time: Akkerman or War


[1] In OTL, the Third National Assembly originally took place at Piada, as there were riots against the government in Nafplion. Little was accomplished in this Assembly aside from a new commission to conduct the war and negotiate with foreign powers. Due to the fall of Missolonghi, they rescheduled the Assembly for later that Fall. This was then postponed to the following Spring when it took place in March of 1827 at Troezen. Here, the result is a combination of the OTL Assembly in April 1826 and the follow up Assembly in March of 1827, resulting in the election of Ioannis Kapodistrias nearly a year ahead of schedule. I owe these changes to the later conclusion of the Siege of Missolonghi, which ended nearly two weeks after the OTL one did, and the improved situation of the war which has resulted in a change in attendance and situation for the Assembly.

[2] Padua hosted one of the oldest universities in all of Europe, founded in 1222. The University of Padua also boasts the Orto botanico di Padova, which is the world’s oldest academic botanical garden. For anyone in the 18th and 19th centuries who was interested in learning medicine, the University of Padua was the place to be.

[3] Surprisingly, Kapodistrias came to form a strong friendship with Theodoros Kolokotronis despite their very different backgrounds. He grew to rely upon heavily Kolokotronis for support in pushing through his reforms thanks in large part to his support among the military captains. Without the support of Kolokotronis, Kapodistrias is unable to force reforms through with the backing of the military as per OTL. This Kapodistrias is also arriving in a Greece that is somewhat better off than the OTL Greece, so the local magnates are not as desperate or subservient to him initially, and as a result, they are more resistant to his efforts.
 
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So Kapodistrias needs winning a match point to downgrade the Senate to a powerless body.....
Yes, very much so. Owing to the somewhat stronger position of Greece at the time of Kapodistrias' arrival, the Senators aren't as willing to give him carte blanche rule over Greece as per OTL. Contrary to popular opinion, this is honestly good thing for Kapodistrias and Greece as while his reforms were indeed very good for Greece and very popular among the Greek people, they destroyed his relations with the Primates, Ship lords, and Magnates of Greece who ultimately rebelled against him and killed him in OTL. So while the extent of his reforms are less expansive now, they will have a longer time to take effect and it will avoid a lot of the OTL anarchy post war.
 
All very interesting, well written and obviously well researched but I think the effects of Kolokotronis death would start from bad and go to catastrophic very fast. To start with Dervenakia, they happened only due to Kolokotronis correctly deducing that Dramalis was actually to retreat and capturing the passes behind him with what essentially consisted of units that personally followed him and close allies. If he's killed there is a very fair chance they just melt away and Dramalis retreats unscathed to Corinth to wait out on the Ottoman fleet to supply him. Even if we assume Panos and Niketas keep the units in place (Panos was after all a fairly good commander by all accounts) it's highly doubtful that the revolution can survive Ibrahim without Kolokotronis around. Kolokotronis may have failed to directly defeat Ibrahim but was attriting him to death with his army hardly controlling anything but the ground they were standing on, which by the way is why leaving Tripoli intact is a bad thing, while at the same time keeping the population from surrendering. (It was Kollokotronis "fire and axe against surrendered" decree that stopped the surrenders that had started taking place on their tracks. Remove him and Ibrahim is bound to steadily reduce the Peloponnese through 1825 and 1826.
 
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