Part 1: The Spark of Revolution
  • Part 1: The Spark of Revolution

    The Ottoman Empire, 1801
    On the 22nd of February 1821, the Phanariot Alexander Ypsilantis crossed the Pruth River into the Danubian Principality of Moldavia and in doing so sparked an open revolt against the Ottoman Empire. Across all of Rumelia, Greeks rose in armed rebellion against their oppressors in the name of God, Liberty, and Hellas. Despite their valor, their efforts in the North would end in disaster when Ypsilantis and his followers were defeated on the field of battle in Wallachia. With no other choice, the Phanariot fled into exile in Austria where he would remain imprisoned for many years to come. This setback was soon followed by others in Cyprus, Macedonia, Thessaly, and Thrace. By the beginning of Fall, the rebellion was effectively dead in Northern Rumelia.

    The defeat of Ypsilantis, however, did little to extinguish the fires of rebellion that had been lit across Greece. In Southern Rumelia, the Greeks achieved more lasting results as the important cities of Missolonghi, Salona, and Thebes fell to the Greeks. Even the ancient city of Athens, the birthplace of democracy, was liberated after a prolonged siege of the Acropolis. In the Aegean, the islands of Hydra, Psara, Samos, and Spetses joined the conflict, bringing with them their great wealth and their great merchant fleets which inflicted devastating losses against the Ottoman navy. But it was in the Morea where the Greeks had achieved their greatest victories.

    The warlike Moreots of the Peloponnese did credit to their ancient ancestors as they swiftly beat back their hated adversary in a series of battles. Beginning with the liberation of Kalamata on the 25th of March, by the end of 1821 the entirety of the Morea had been freed from Ottoman rule with only a few remote castles along the coast remaining in Turkish hands. Even the provincial capital of the Morea, the mighty walled city of Tripolitsa had fallen to the Greeks after 8 short months. It was a great victory for the Greeks, but an even greater humiliation for the Ottoman Sultan.


    The Oath of Agia Lavra[1]

    In response to this latest insult, the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II ordered his Serasker Khursid Ahmed Pasha, to crush the Greek rebels with the utmost haste and ruthlessness.[2] Should he fail, Khursid would meet the same fate as all the Sultan’s enemies, death. Obliging his angered liege, Khursid Pasha orchestrated a grand offensive against the rebel strongholds in the south during the Spring and Summer months of 1822. One army led by the Albanian general Omer Vrioni would advance through the mountains of Western Greece, where he would crush the last remaining pockets of resistance in the North. Moving south, he would then be tasked with securing the important city of Missolonghi from the rebels before crossing into the Morea at Patras.

    The other army led by Mahmud Dramali Pasha would force its way south along the Aegean coast and cross the Isthmus into the Morea. From there, they would retake Corinth and Argos, break the siege in Nafplion, and then move against the rebels in Tripolitsa. With Vrioni’s force attacking from the West and Dramali’s from the East, their combined forces would overwhelm the remaining Greek partisans and extinguish the fires of the rebellion in the Morea. Their marching orders set, Dramali’s host departed from Lamia on the 5th of July, advancing south.


    Khursid Pasha, Serasker (Commander in Chief) of the Ottoman Empire (Left) Mahmud Dramali Pasha, Commander of the Ottoman Army in Eastern Greece (Right)

    Passing through Phocis, Boeotia, and Attica without so much as a shot fired in their defense, the Ottomans were lulled into a sense of security and imminent victory. This changed as soon as they crossed into the Morea. There they found the fields scorched, the wells filled in, and the livestock slaughtered to deny the Turks any supplies with which to sustain themselves. The campaign was made even more rigorous by the unusually dry summer which had left Greece in a terrible drought and the Turks in short supply of fresh water. Nevertheless, Dramali Pasha quickly established himself in the city of Corinth, where he and his officers planned their operation to crush the rebellion. Dramali was of the mind to seize Argos, the capital of the Greek traitors, while his captains, Yusuf Pasha of Evvia and Ali Bey of Argos urged him to move on Tripolitsa, to restore Ottoman rule in the Morea, and then proceed onto Patras where they would join in support of Vrioni. Dramali Pasha having come to detest Vrioni as a rival, refused to share the glory, and the spoils, with a man he considered a brigand. Ignoring the stratagems of his officers, Dramali chose to push onto Argos.

    Arriving on the 24th of July, Dramali discovered much to his disappointment that the city had been abandoned with nary a shot fired in its defense. The Greek government had fled before him denying Dramali his chance at capturing them in one fell swoop. The people had similarly escaped his grasp, having fled by ship to the islands or by foot to the hills. Worst of all, the Greeks had thoroughly emptied the city of its riches and stores of grain before his arrival. While the city had been abandoned to him, the castle Larissa upon the old acropolis had not. 700 men under the command of the Phanariot Prince Demetrios Ypsilantis had holed up within its old walls, ready and willing to fight to the end if need be.

    Through deception and valor, Ypsilantis managed to bravely resist the Ottomans for twelve long days and nights before fleeing under the cover of darkness in the early hours of the 5th of August. Once more, Dramali Pasha had been denied a decisive battle with which to earn his own personal glory. Adding to his woes was the failure of the Ottoman fleet to land at Nafplion, traveling instead to Patras and in the process denying his army of desperately needed supplies. To sustain themselves, Dramali dispatched several scavenging parties to scour the many surrounding vineyards for food. Several men ran afoul of Greek sharpshooters and most returned with nothing to show for their efforts. While a few managed to forage perishables from the vineyards, their goods were generally found to be unripe or riddled with maggots. Yet in their extreme hunger, the men ate these afflicted foods despite the concerns and in the process, a terrible illness began to spread through the ranks. With his foodstuffs running low, his troops beginning to fall ill, and Argos no longer of interest, Dramali Pasha reluctantly agreed to return to Corinth by way of the Dervenakia pass.


    The Ottomans at Argos
    Next Time: On a Horse They Fall
    [1] The Oath of Agia Lavra, or The Blessing of Agia Lavra is one of the most famous legends of the Greek War of Independence. It recounts the bravery of Bishop Yermanos in defying the Ottoman governor, Khursid Pasha and declaring his opposition to the Ottoman Empire alongside the hero Theodoros Kolokotronis and the captains of the Morea. This event is considered the effective beginning of the war in the South of Greece yet there is one major problem with it, it is almost certainly a fictional event created by Francis Pouqueville, French Consul to the Ottoman Empire. Neither Bishop Yermanos nor Theodoros Kolokotronis were present at Agia Lavra on the 25th of March when this event supposedly took place, Kolokotronis was in Messenia, having just returned from the Ionian Islands, and Bishop Yermanos was likely at his home in Patras. Khursid Pasha who is also mentioned in this story as summoning Yermanos, was in Epirus and not Tripolitsa, where he made his court. Despite its dubious authenticity, the Oath of Agia Lavra is still considered an important aspect of modern Greek mythos.

    [2] Khursid Ahmed Pasha was a very powerful and competent leader in the Ottoman Empire in the years prior to the Greek War of Independence. Khursid was originally born to a Christian family in Modern day Georgia and at a young age he was conscripted to the Janissaries. Due to his skill, he became Mayor of Alexandria, then governor of Ottoman Egypt and was later appointed Serasker of the Ottoman Empire during the Serbian Revolution and for his success he was made Grand Vizier (1812-1815). Khursid Pasha was once again appointed Serasker in 1820, first to defeat Ali Pasha of Ioannina, and then to defeat the Greeks.
     
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    Part 2: On a Horse They Fall
  • Part 2: On a Horse They Fall

    Theodoros Kolokotronis, Archstrategos (Commander in Chief) of the Greeks​

    In the twelve days that Demetrios Ypsilantis held out in Larissa, the Greek Archstrategos Theodoros Kolokotronis assembled an army to combat the Ottomans. Every day that the Phanariot held out was another day for more men to come to their aid. Kolokotronis, members of the government, and their followers wrote letter after letter to every man willing to fight, to every man that owed them a favor, and to every man wanting to share in the glory and the spoils of the battle to come. By the 1st of August, his force had ballooned from a meager 2,000 men to nearly 8,000, even still the Greeks were outnumbered at best 3 to 1 as Dramali Pasha had entered the Morea with the largest army seen in Greece in nearly a century, over 26,000 strong, most of which was cavalry.

    To nullify the advantage in numbers and mobility held by the Ottomans, the Archstrategos would face the enemy within the narrow confines of the mountain passes and valleys spanning Northern Argolis. Of the many roads spanning the Morea, the main road leading to Corinth from Argos ran through a narrow ravine near the hamlet of Dervenakia making the area a prime locale to contest the Ottoman’s advance. Kolokotronis’ nephew, Niketas Stamatelopoulos was given the honor of leading the main attack at Dervenakia, to that end he was tasked with falling trees and stacking stones to block the road and channel the Turks into his sights.

    Two additional roads led to the East and West respectively; the Eastern route to Corinth was technically shorter but it was much more dangerous, running through the northern foothills of the mountain Arachnaion. It was a treacherous place renowned as a hideaway for klephts and brigands. In the event the Ottomans took this route, the priest Papaflessas and 2,000 men would be tasked with opposing them until further help could arrive. The Western route was significantly longer, but it was also significantly safer opening into the wide expanse of the Nemea Valley. It also provided Dramali Pasha with a clear route to Tripolitsa, which was presently undefended by the Greeks. While Theodoros correctly assumed the Ottomans would be returning directly to Corinth, he still made insurances to prevent them from taking the city. To that end, Kolokotronis positioned himself between the Ottomans and Tripolitsa in the hills near the village of Ayios Georgios with nearly 1,000 men. Lastly, Kolokotronis’ lieutenant, the Moreot Iatrakos and 2,000 men would guard the road back to Argos. Once the Ottoman army entered the hills, Iatrakos was to ensure they did not leave it. With no time to spare, Theodoros Kolokotronis dispatched his forces to their positions and awaited Dramali’s approach.


    The Hills of Dervenakia
    The day of reckoning would quickly arrive in the afternoon on the 5th of August. In advance of his main force, Dramali Pasha dispatched his Albanian mercenaries to secure the hilltops in the passes ahead. Instead, the Albanian vanguard, recognizing the innate dangers of the Dervenakia pass, opted to advance along the safer western road, but in their haste, they failed to relay their movements with the Ottomans to their rear. Passing through the hills near Ayios Georgios, the Albanians inexplicably entered the Greek encampment of Theodoros Kolokotronis. Many of the Moreots watching the road had mistaken the Albanians with their Arvanite allies’ due to their similar dress and Albanian speech. Believing them to be friends coming to their aid, they allowed them entry into their camp. Quickly, though their cover began to collapse as some men ran off in the opposite direction and others immediately pulled out their weapons. Still they managed to make their way through the encampment unimpeded until a pair of Arvanites who had heeded Theodoros Kolokotronis’ call recognized the Albanians for who they truly were and sounded the alarm.[1]

    The sudden discovery of an enemy in their midst sparked a panic throughout the camp as some men ran into the brush while others opened fire on each other. Initially caught off guard, Theodoros Kolokotronis quickly mounted his horse and donned his famed plumed helmet before riding into the carnage. The Greeks immediately noticed their leader and quickly moved to coalesce around him. Wielding his mighty saber, Kolokotronis directed his men to form ranks and concentrate their fire on the enemy before. Ever the leader, Kolokotronis’ took his place at the front of his troops but his prominence atop his steed made him an attractive target for the wavering Albanians. In their desperation, the Albanians fired shot after shot at him to no avail as bullets grazed past him. As their enemy began to waver, Theodoros began to push forward but in his hubris, he became separated from his men and where bullets had failed, blades succeeded as an Albanian plunged his bayonet into the side of the Old Man.

    Despite his injury, Theodoros managed to fight off his adversary, but soon after his strength began to fail him and Kolokotronis fell from his steed for all to see. A desperate melee quickly commenced near the fallen Kolokotronis as the Moreots rushed forward to save their commander. Sword clashed against sword, bayonet against bayonet, and knife against knife. Despite their valor, the Greeks were on the cusp of breaking were it not for the timely arrival of Panos Kolokotronis with reinforcements. Rallying his father’s men, Panos threw caution to the wind and charged into the ranks of the Albanians with all the viciousness and ferocity of a wild beast. The strength and savagery of the Moreots instilled such a fear within the weary Albanians that they fled the field with all the haste their tired bodies could muster.


    The Fall of Theodoros Kolokotronis
    With the battle over, Panos rushed to his father’s side. In a tearful reunion, the young Kolokotronis knelt beside his dying father and cradled him in his arms, hoping that the life would return to his father’s eyes. Though he would linger on for a few lingering moments, by nightfall he was gone. The Old Man of the Morea was dead.

    Next Time: The Dramali Disaster


    [1] Here is our POD. According to accounts of the battle of Dervenakia, these Albanians were initially mistaken for the Arvanites, an Albanian people that had settled in the Morea and were allies of the Greeks during the war. As a result, these Albanians were able to pass through Kolokotronis’ camp relatively unnoticed, before they made their escape back to Corinth. In OTL the Albanians were in fact discovered, but by that time most had managed to escape. Here their discovery happens a little earlier.
     
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    Part 3: The Dramali Disaster
  • Part 3: The Dramali Disaster


    The Ambush at Dervenakia

    The death of Theodoros Kolokotronis was a tragedy for the Greek cause, as the poet Dionysios Solomos in his celebrated poem “On Theodoros Kolokotronis” likened the lamentations of the Moreots over Kolokotronis to that of the Trojans over Hector.[1] Greek writers would go on to say that had Theodoros lived, the Greeks could have liberated the whole of Greece from Messenia to Constantinople. It was a silly notion, despite his feats of heroism in battle and his enormous stature both in Greece and abroad, his ability to command men was repeatedly questioned and challenged by his rivals both within the military and the government. He had a tendency for rubbing people the wrong way, which was most likely a result of his immense and unrepentant pride. His behavior and background as a klepht also earned him the ire of the more “respectable” primates of the revolution who distrusted him as a thief and a brigand.

    Nevertheless, he had been responsible for organizing the nascent army of the Greeks, turning a disorderly bunch of klephts and farmers into something resembling a regular fighting force. He implemented a rudimentary officer corps among the Greeks with a clear hierarchy of command, with himself at the top of that hierarchy unsurprisingly. He established a system of pay for his men, based largely on the division of spoils. He had also proven himself to be a commendable military leader, having led his men successfully in battle after battle from Valtetsi to Tripolitsa providing the Greeks with a much-needed boost to their morale and legitimacy early in the rebellion. If their luck held out, the Greeks would win one last victory for their Archstrategos, even in death.

    To the East, near the small village of Dervenakia the main ambush began with more success owing to the ineptitude of Dramali Pasha. Despite passing through these very hills only days before, the Ottoman commander had failed to post sentries in the hills enabling the Greeks to seize their heights for themselves. The Greeks hiding behind rocks and trees sprang their trap upon the approaching Ottomans. Caught unaware the heavy cavalrymen of the Ottoman Army were completely exposed as the Greeks above fired shot after shot upon them. While some men attempted to fight back, most scrambled for cover, choosing to hide in the gullies and ditches running alongside the road. Others even hid beneath the bodies of their fallen comrades seeking refuge from the vicious Greek barrage of gunfire. Any measure of discipline and morale by the Turks immediately collapsed when the battle began leaving them in poor dishevelment in comparison to their adversaries on the hills above them. When the Greeks’ munitions ran dry they brandished their swords and sabers, knives and spears and threw themselves upon their beleaguered foe. Nikitas Stamatelopoulos was especially brutal in his butchery of the Ottomans. Over the course of the day he had killed so many Turks that he had broken five swords in the process, for this he earned the distinctive moniker, the Turk Eater, Tourkophagos.


    Nikitas Stamatelopoulos at Dervenakia


    The coming of night fall on the 5th would prove to be a small respite for the ravaged Ottomans. Those that remained in the valleys of Dervenakia were subject to the worst horrors of war as horses and human corpses filled the road, left as a grisly reminder to the Turks still alive in the canyons. The cries of the dying filled the air, most of which was in Turkish, a fact which greatly demoralized the Ottoman soldiers. Their abandoned weapons and personal effects were soon looted by the opportunist Greeks and would be used against their former masters in the following days. Those that attempted to flee the confines of the ravine were themselves quickly hunted down by Greeks ensuring that few Turks escaped to fight another day. By the end of the day, the Ottomans were no closer to Corinth than they had been that morning.

    The second day in the hills would begin in much the same manner as the first, with the Ottomans still attempting to withdraw to Corinth, this time through the road to Ayios Vasileios. Their results on the 6th ended in much the same as on the 5th, the Ottomans made a series of break out attempts against the Greek lines only for the Greeks to repel them, inflicting higher and higher casualties upon their enemy. While the losses on the second day were high for the Ottomans, they were noticeably lower than those of the previous day owing to the greater caution of the Turks and the growing disorganization of the Greeks. By midday, news of Theodoros Kolokotronis' death had reached the Greeks to the East. Though most men hadn't met him personally, they had come to revere the Old Man as a hero of the Revolution, to say they lost their composure upon hearing the news of their heroes demise would be an understatement. Some men openly wept at his demise, while some men threw themselves into battle, others seemed entirely unaffected by the whole scene and continued along their way, regardless of their reactions, the Greeks ensured the Ottomans suffered for their loss.

    For Dramali Pasha though, the situation was fast becoming a disaster. Nearly a fifth of his men had been killed or wounded during the initial ambush on the first day and another 2,000 casualties had been sustained on the second. Soldiers were openly flaunting their orders as all sense of composure and order had dissipated from his army ever since the battle began. His supply situation had also finally collapsed, as the remainder of their bread supply had been depleted the day before and their water supplies were near exhaustion as the dry Greek Summer continued to mercilessly bare down on them. To the embattled Ottomans, it seemed as if every valley, every road, and every hilltop was under guard by the Greeks and his latest attempt to escape via the Eastern road to Agios Vasileios had also ended in bloody failure. Faced with the very real possibility that he could die in these hills, Dramali Pasha chose to forsake the last vestiges of his ruined honor and save himself.


    The Ambush near Agios Vasileios

    Following another fruitless day in the hills of Argolis, Dramali Pasha made his move at dusk. Abandoning the vast majority of his men to their fates, Dramali and his personal guard made a desperate charge down the ravine towards Ayionori as dusk fell over Argolis. There they were met by the Moreot Captain Iatrakos and his men who were themselves moving up the road to confront them. Forced to fight their way through, Dramali and his cavalrymen broke through the Greek lines with surprising ease, the only casualties of note being Dramali’s saber and turban and a few cuts and lacerations by the Greeks. It would later be determined that Iatrakos and his men were advancing up the road to join in the looting of the Ottoman dead rather than to oppose the flight of the Turks.

    Dramali Pasha's Morea campaign in the Summer of 1822 was an abject disaster and his name would forever be remembered by Greek and Turk alike as a proverb against foolhardiness and hubris. While many Ottomans would eventually escape the confines of the hills as well, those that remained behind were slaughtered by the vengeful Greeks in one of the most macabre scenes in the entire war. Of the 26,000 that entered the pass two days earlier, less than 18,000 returned to Corinth, thoroughly beaten and demoralized, with many more dying of their wounds in the days ahead furthering the troubles of the Ottomans.[2] The largest army to enter Greece in over 100 years had been smashed to pieces in the span of three days.

    Next Time: Phanariot


    [1] Based on the OTL poem “On Markos Botsaris” and written by the same poet, Dionysios Solomos.

    [2] Some sources of the battle of Dervenakia list the Ottomans casualties as anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000. I tend to believe that the lower figure is more accurate for the battle itself, but that does not mean the higher figure is wrong necessarily wrong either. When Dramali’s army abandoned Corinth several months later in the Spring of 1823, barely 5,000 men remained out of the initial 26,000. The reasoning behind this huge discrepancy is that the Ottoman army had suffered immensely from an infestation of typhus over the winter which ravaged their ranks. Added to the already poor supply situation for Dramali's army, which was made marginally better at Corinth and you have a recipe for really terrible casualty rates.
     
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    Part 4: Phanariot
  • Part 4: Phanariot


    The Ypsilanti Coat of Arms

    With the Ottomans defeated at Dervenakia, many of the Greeks turned for home with their spoils in hand. Altogether, the Greeks had captured the entirety of the Turks’ baggage train, in addition to 450 horses, over 1,300 pack animals, and nearly 700 camels. In addition, they managed to collect nearly 11,000 muskets that had been abandoned by the living or taken from the dead, several hundred swords, and numerous personal effects of the fallen. Many of these wares would litter markets across the Morea for months to come serving as a reminder of the great victory won at Dervenakia. While it was a great victory for the Greeks, a substantial portion of the Ottoman army had managed to escape due to the negligence of Iatrakos and his men. Had they held their ground as instructed, instead of abandoning their posts to join in the spoils, Dramali’s army would have been destroyed there and then.

    Panos Kolokotronis and his cousin Niketas Stamatelopoulos held Dramali Pasha directly responsible for the death of Theodoros and sought the Turk’s head as recompense. Upon discovering that Iatrakos’ greed had enabled Dramali Pasha to escape, Panos brutally attacked the man, bludgeoning him within an inch of his life. The younger Kolokotroneoi would have killed the man were it not for the intervention of the Phanariot Demetrios Ypsilantis who moved to stop the altercation. Denied even the slightest satisfaction, Panos in a fit of frustration quit the Greek army altogether. Opting to fulfill his vendetta against his father’s enemy, the Kolokotronis boy and his cousin the Tourkophagos departed from the Greek camp with their followers to hunt their quarry.[1]

    With many of the Moreot captains gone, or dead, leadership of the greatly reduced “Greek Army” fell to an unlikely candidate, the Phanariot Prince Demetrios Ypsilantis. Demetrios at first glance was a poor replacement for the Old Man of the Morea. As a physical specimen, he was extremely lacking. Compared to the giant stature and strong physique of the Theodoros, Demetrios was a short and frail man who suffered from a poor constitution for much of his life. He was also a man who suffered from a speech impediment, which caused him to stutter on occasion, a problem made worse by his relatively meek personality. For all intents and purposes, he was a mouse filling the role of a lion.


    Prince Demetrios Ypsilantis of Moldavia,
    First President of the National Senate and Second Archstrategos of the Hellenic Army

    Like his older brother Alexander Ypsilantis, Demetrios was a Phanariot Prince of the Danubian Principalities, as the son and grandson of the Ottoman appointed Hospodars of Moldavia and Wallachia. The outbreak of war between the Russian and Ottoman Empires in 1806 and the execution of their Grandfather on charges of conspiracy forced his family to flee to Russia where they would remain until the months leading up to the war for independence.[2] Like his brother, he joined the Russian military but due to his young age and poor health he only progressed to the rank of captain in the Russian General Staff before the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Like, his brother he joined the Filiki Eteria but he did not hold a high position within the group unlike Alexander who had been unanimously selected as the group’s leader.

    His martial ability was also incredibly sparse prior to the war, serving primarily as a staff officer, although he served with distinction during the latter stages of the War of the Sixth Coalition. His experience in Greece thus far was something entirely different. Ypsilantis had boldly joined in the defense of Argos even after the government and army had abandoned it and his actions at Dervenakia were also commendable following the death of Theodoros. He had also been responsible for achieving the surrender of the impregnable Monemvasia in the opening weeks of the war and for liberating Corinth later in December of 1821. Most importantly, he came to the Morea bearing correspondence with Tsar Alexander and a vast sum of 250,000 Piastres which he used to raise and supply several companies of soldiers.[3]

    Despite his diffident persona, Demetrios had attracted quite the following among the foreigners and diaspora Greeks as a noble and trust worthy fellow. His dedication to the cause was never in doubt and while he was constantly overshadowed by his brother and by Theodoros Kolokotronis, their misfortune had allowed him to step into their places. Many of the Kolokotroneoi loyalists had followed Panos to Corinth where they would beat their heads against the stout walls of Akrocorinthos for months on end. Those that had remained behind were generally predisposed to Ypsilantis or at the very least indifferent to his prominence. While some petitioned their captains to seek command, none matched the experience and respectability of the Phanariot. Still, many of the Moreots distrusted him as an outsider and a Primate, but eventually conceded when Iatrakos endorsed Ypsilantis as recompense for intervening on his behalf with Panos earlier.[4]


    Akrocorinthos, Ancient Acropolis of Corinth and Base of Operations for Dramali Pasha’s army

    With that matter resolved, for now, Ypsilantis turned his attention back towards the war. With only 1,400 men at his command, his options were limited. Dramali Pasha, while defeated, still posed a substantial threat, however, early reports indicated that he had locked himself and his force behind the walls of Akrocorinthos. His army was severely hobbled by large numbers of casualties, over 6,000 dead, roughly 2,000 missing, and thousands more were wounded. Those that were physically unharmed would prove to be paralyzed by fear of the Moreot devils and bluntly refused to venture forth beyond their walls.

    While Dramali would not attack the Greeks, Ypsilantis could not challenge the Turks. Based on sheer numbers alone, the Greeks simply could not force the walls of the acropolis. Fighting a larger enemy in a strong defensive position, even a thoroughly demoralized and injury riddled one, would not be possible for Ypsilantis’ small band. One factor that advantaged the Greeks immensely was the continued plight of the Ottoman supply lines. Even at Corinth, Dramali’s army could only be resupplied by sea, but these shipping lanes would prove to be extremely vulnerable to Greek piracy. Determining that the best option regarding the Ottoman army at Corinth was to wait them out, Ypsilantis turned his gaze southward.

    Another more viable target for his limited resources was the important port city of Nafplion, to the south of Argos. Nafplion possessed arguably one of the best ports in the entire Morea, and the city itself was among the largest in the region. The city and its hinterland had been liberated by the local Greeks in April 1821, but the harbor and the two castles overlooking the city, Akronafplion and Palamidi, remained in Ottoman hands. Both castles had been under siege intermittently since the opening days of the war, but their location along the coast made progress difficult to come by for the Greeks. The Ottoman navy, for all its faults was still capable of resupplying the various fortifications along the Morean littoral which frustrated the Greeks efforts to take the fortifications.

    This was eventually resolved in late June 1822 when the Castle Bourzi in Nafplion’s harbor was seized by the Greeks in a daring raid. With the harbor secured, the Ottoman garrisons were effectively cut off from the outside world and with no other options they opened negotiations with the Greeks regarding terms of surrender. Were it not for the sudden arrival of Dramali Pasha in late July, both castles would have likely capitulated. Recognizing their exhaustion, Dramali dispatched reinforcements and a hundred wagons carrying supplies to the tired men trapped at Akronafplion and Palamidi. With Dramali’s defeat at Dervenakia, however, the Ottomans in Nafplion were isolated once more leaving them as an alluring target. His decision made, Demetrios Ypsilantis and his men turned for Nafplion.

    Next Time: The Crags of Palamidi


    [1] Panos Kolokotronis was an interesting individual. He had most of the characteristics of his father, he was tall, strong, and handsome, yet he lacked a lot of the restraint and politicking of Theodoros. He was extremely loyal to his father to the point that he physically attacked Theodoros' political opponents in the government and led men against them during the civil war before he was killed himself in 1825. At least to me, it would perfectly in keeping with what I know of his character for Panos to attack Iatrakos for his actions at Dervenakia and then storm off after the man he deemed responsible for his father's death.

    [2] I won’t go into too much detail here, but Alexander Ypsilantis, grandfather to Demetrios and Alexander, was the Hospodar of Wallachia from 1774 to 1782 and again from 1788 to 1790 at which point he was captured by the Austrians during the 1788-1791 Austro-Turkish War. Upon his release in 1805 he was executed by the Sultan for conspiracy against the Porte. Alexander’s son Constantine Ypsilantis, who was himself Hospodar of Moldavia, fled to Russia with his family but then returned to the Danubian Principalities at the head of a Russian Army with the intent of liberating Greece, however, he quickly fell ill and the Treaty of Tilsit ended any hopes for this.

    [3] Alexander Ypsilantis essentially designated his brother Demetrios as his representative in the Morea, while he was still in the Danubian Principalities. The letters that Demetrios carried from his brother are at best vague promises of support from Russia and at worst total fabrications. Evidence suggests that they were fake, the money he brought with him was real though.:)

    [4] I couldn't find much information on Iatrakos, expect for that fact that he was a Moreot Captain who worked closely with Theodoros Kolokotronis during the first year of the war. He seems to have fallen out of favor with the Kolokotroneoi after his mishap at Dervenakia in OTL and later sided with the Government faction during the two rounds of Civil Wars in 1823 and 1824/1825. As a result, I see no reason why he wouldn’t have sided with Ypsilantis after his altercation with Panos in TTL.
     
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    Part 5: The Crags of Palamidi
  • Part 5: The Crags of Palamidi


    Palamidi Castle, Nafplion Greece

    Passing through Argos, Demetrios Ypsilantis found the streets brimming with commotion as the local people had returned following Dramali Pasha’s defeat only a day earlier. Moving to occupy the fortress Larissa, he discovered that it had been similarly abandoned by the Ottomans after being thoroughly ransacked of its treasures and supplies. While it had only been a week since he was last within the walls of Larissa, the once mighty fortress had been reduced to an empty shell of itself, stripped of its imposing guns, its impressive banners, and much of Demetrios’ fine cutlery. With no enemy to oppose him, Ypsilantis and his men pressed onwards to Nafplion, where he would bring about a conclusion to the stalled sieges of Palamidi and Akronafplion.

    Even after Dramali Pasha’s defeat at Dervenakia, the castles of Palamidi and Akronafplion had continued to hold out against the Greeks. Situated atop the main hill overlooking Nafplion, Palamidi was a massive castle built during the old days of the Venetian Kingdom of the Morea. Its eight mighty bastions provided an excellent vantage point over the harbor and valley below and it housed many hundreds if not thousands of Ottoman soldiers within its thick walls. Its companion, Akronafplion, was once the ancient acropolis of Nafplion before being converted into a castle by the Venetians during their long occupation of the city. Though smaller in comparison and lower in inclination than Palamidi, Akronafplion still posed a difficult challenge for the local Moreots who had gathered outside its walls.

    The Greeks had long since abandoned the siege tactics of Western European armies choosing instead to starve their adversaries into submission rather than force the walls or open a breach. While it was a long and tiresome process, it was less expensive in terms of lives wasted on assaults on the walls, or in terms of munitions, whose supply was of constant concern to the Greeks. Still, the sieges of Palamidi and Akronafplion proved to be an especially long and arduous endeavor for the Greeks. Theodoros Kolokotronis had been tasked with leading the siege effort following his victory at Tripolitsa the previous September, but was he later forced to abandon his progress when Dramali Pasha arrived in the area in July. Despite dealing with his own supply shortage, Dramali Pasha dispatched several wagons and riders to reinforce the wavering Ottomans in Nafplion. Dramali also took possession of the Greek hostages within the castles as insurance against their adversaries.

    The defeat of Dramali Pasha at Dervenakia, however, enabled the siege to resume in mid-August this time with Demetrios Ypsilantis in command. The defeat at Dervenakia was compounded further when the Ottoman fleet under Kara Mehmet Pasha failed to break the Greek naval blockade of Nafplion’s harbor. The defeat in part lies with Mehmet Pasha, who was an artillery officer by trade and had only recently been appointed Kapudan Pasha of the Ottoman Navy.[1] Despite boasting a total strength of 94 vessels, many of Mehmet’s ships were large warships ill-suited for the narrow straits of the Argolic Gulf, a caveat the Greeks exploited to the fullest.

    Hoping to repeat the victory of the Greeks over the Persians at Salamis, the Arvanite Admiral, Andreas Vokos Miaoulis of Hydra led a fleet of 68 Greek fireships and fighting ships into the tight confines of the Argolic Gulf. Dividing his force into three parts, Miaoulis led 24 ships into the Harbor of Nafplion where he awaited the enemy fleet. Another 24 ships would lie in wait off the coast of Kranidi ready to entrap the eager Ottomans as they entered the Gulf. The remaining ships of Miaoulis’ fleet were sent to patrol the waters near Spetses in the event the Turks attempted to land there instead. Unfortunately for Miaoulis, the weather and their adversary would disappoint the Greeks.

    When Mehmet Pasha first arrived on the 8th of September, the calm winds in the Gulf, prevented the Greeks from drawing the Ottomans further into the Gulf. Over the ensuing 6 hours, Miaoulis fought a slow withdrawal back through the channel. Rather than push their advantage, Mehmet Pasha opted to withdrew as well ending the battle. Two days later a similar skirmish occurred between the two fleets meeting a similar end with the Ottomans failing to break through the Greek lines, and the Greeks failing to trap the Ottoman ships in the strait. Finally, after a week of inconclusive action on both sides, Mehmet Pasha made one last attempt to break through the blockade. This time Miaoulis found some success when one of his fireships caught ahold of an Ottoman Brig, promptly setting it aflame.


    The Greek Fleet at Hydra

    Terror immediately spread throughout the Ottoman fleet as one of their own ships was reduced to cinder and ash in mere moments. Turning to flee once more, Miaoulis managed to strike one more blow against Mehmet Pasha sinking an Ottoman Corvette and causing significant damage to four more. Rather than risk the dangers of the Argolic once more, Kara Mehmet Pasha turned his ships for safer waters leaving the men trapped at Nafplion to their fates. With their supplies running out and their latest hope of relief sent running, the Ottomans within Palamidi and Akronafplion attempted one last desperate measure to holdout.

    Several bands of men were expelled from the castles officially to secure additional resources with which to feed the many starving Ottoman soldiers and civilians within the castle’s walls. In truth, this gambit was little more than a blatant attempt to throw out the undesirables from behind their walls. Many women and children, sick and elderly were cast out from the castles that had once been their refuge. Whether they succeeded in finding food or died at the hands of the Moreots was of little concern to those that remained behind. With nowhere else to go, the exiles surrendered en masse to the Greeks choosing dishonor over starvation. Despite the blood lust of some Moreots wanting to slaughter the lot and loot their remains, Ypsilantis, true to his nature, guaranteed their safety to the best of his ability.

    Whether the Phanariot’s mercy was an act of kindness or a cunning act of deceit meant to gain the trust of the Ottomans, the ploy worked. Finding Demetrios Ypsilantis to be a respectable and honorable man, more so than the klephts and brigands in the Greek ranks, the commander of the Palamidi garrison opened negotiations. After several days of quiet deliberation, the Ottomans accepted terms of surrender for Palamidi on the 10th of December once Ypsilantis swore an oath upon the Holy Bible guaranteeing their safety for all to see.

    Per the terms of surrender, the Ottoman garrison was allowed safe passage to Asia Minor aboard foreign ships at Greek expense. Any Turkish, Albanian, or Muslim Greek civilians within Nafplion or any of the fortresses were welcome to join them, nearly all of whom accepted. They were permitted to keep their personal affects and whatever private property they could carry with them. The garrison was to keep their weapons and the officers were permitted their side arms, but the mounted guns were to remain in place and the munitions were strictly prohibited. Lastly, any items left behind by the civilians or soldiers, would not be subject to compensation by the Greek government. The terms were guaranteed in part by the British Captain Gawen William Hamilton of the Royal Navy, who personally escorted several hundred Turkish soldiers from Palamidi to his ship the Cambrian before making the crossing to Asia Minor.[2] The commander of the Akronafplion garrison would upon a similar deal with Ypsilantis in the following days, accepting terms of surrender on the 12th of December, coincidently the feast of St. Andreas, patron Saint of the Morea. With the surrender of Palamidi and Akronafplion the hostilities in the Morea concluded for the year, but across the Gulf of Corinth in Southern Rumelia the fighting was only getting started.


    Captain Gawen William Hamilton of the HMS Cambrian

    Next Time: Missolonghi


    [1] The Kapudan Pasha, or Captain of the Seas, was the commander of the Ottoman Navy. The fact that Kara Mehmet Pasha, the former Master General of Artillery, was made into the commander of the Ottoman Navy without any prior naval experience speaks volumes as to the state of the Ottoman Bureaucracy and Military at this point in time. I will elaborate more on this in Part 7.

    [2] As the POD was only a few months prior to the surrender of Palamidi I would tend to believe that Captain Hamilton and his ship would still be present at Nafplion around this time to ensure the safe passage of the Turkish prisoners to Anatolia. He had been in the area since October of 1821, escorting merchant ships through the war-torn Aegean so it would seem reasonable to me that he would be here in TTL as well. While he was an avid supporter of the Greeks, he remained impartial in the conflict earning the respect of both the Greeks and the Ottomans.
     
    Part 6: Missolonghi
  • Part 6: Missolonghi


    The Lagoon of Missolonghi

    Across the Gulf of Corinth, in Southern Rumelia lay the strategically important city of Missolonghi. Missolonghi, a bustling center of commerce and trade under the Ottoman Empire would become a bastion of liberty and plucky defiance in Greece for its instrumental role in the war for independence. The importance of the city lay in its setting. To the East were the narrows of the Gulf of Corinth and their twin castles, the Roumeli and the Morea. Further east was the port town of Nafpaktos, from which the Ottoman ferries to the Morea operated. To the West was the Adriatic Sea and the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth providing Missolonghi with a perfect haven for Greek pirates and raiders to attack Ottoman ships of which there were many.

    Ships operating from Missolonghi could target Ottoman ships with ease, frustrating the Turkish supply lines to Patras, the Twin Castles, Nafpaktos, and Corinth. Most importantly, however, the city was positioned upon the main road between Arta and Nafpaktos. By holding Missolonghi, the Greeks could obstruct the movement of Ottoman soldiers into the Morea by means of the Western route. With Missolonghi under their control, the Greeks could force the Turks to travel along the Eastern road, across the Isthmus of Corinth, enabling the Greeks to dedicate their efforts there instead.

    There was only one problem with that strategy, the Greeks weren’t prepared to face a determined attack by the Ottomans on Missolonghi in the Fall of 1822. Over the Summer, most of the forces assembled in Missolonghi were sent north on a failed expedition to Arta and the Souli Valley to aid their allies the Souliotes who were themselves under attack by the Albanian Commander Omer Vrioni and his host. In the small village of Peta, nearly a third of the 2000 Greeks and their Souliot and Philhellenes allies lay dead at the hands of Vrioni. Those that survived were thoroughly demoralized and either quit the cause entirely or succumbed to their wounds in the days that followed. So, it was that when Omer Vrioni arrived outside the disheveled dirt walls of Missolonghi on the 25th of October, barely 500 Greeks and a smattering of their allies remained to oppose him.


    Omer Vrioni, Commander of the Ottoman Army in Western Greece

    Vrioni, either in an act of intimidation or in a surprising act of compassion refrained from attacking the city immediately. Instead, he chose to offer terms of surrender to Greeks. Why Vrioni opened dialogue with the Greeks is unknown especially for a man renowned for his Greek Hunts and frequent use of treachery to achieve victory.[1] Had he opted to attack the city when he first arrived, he could have taken it in a matter of minutes. Instead to the ire of his lieutenants, he remained in negotiations with the defenders for nearly two long weeks.

    The Greeks for their part feigned incompetence owing to the desertion of their commander, the Phanariot Alexandros Mavrokordatos, and the illness of his deputy, the Württembergian Karl von Norman-Ehrenels. While Normann was very much on his deathbed, Mavrokordatos had not in fact deserted, but rather he was across the water in the Morea gathering reinforcements. Before leaving he had left orders for his men to hold out as long as they were able, a strategy that was aided immensely by Vrioni’s surprising use of diplomacy.[2]

    So, it was that Mavrokordatos returned to Missolonghi on the 8th of November with some 1,500 men to reinforce the city. Vrioni finally recognizing the Greek stalling tactics for what they were instantly cut off negotiations and made an immediate assault against the earthen ramparts of the city. By now, however, the winter rains had made the narrow land bridge, connecting Missolonghi to the mainland into a muddy mess. The Greeks had also, under the cover of night, dug a ditch before their walls to further hinder the approaching Ottomans. So, it was that Vrioni’s men found themselves knee deep in mud and at the mercy of Greek gunners atop the decrepit city walls.

    The assault for all intents and purposes, was a massacre. Due to the situation of the city, the Ottoman Infantry could only approach Missolonghi from the North. To the west was the Missolonghi lagoon which at a depth of only 3 feet, was too shallow for most Ottoman warships to enter, but it was also too deep for men to walk through. The Greeks, however, could pass over the water using their small fishing boats, rafts, and punts. The various islands that dotted the lagoon were only reachable via these shallow crafts or by the hidden routes that only the locals knew of, a secret they used to great effect. Finally, to the East of Missolonghi was what appeared to be a large open plain, but in truth it was nothing more than a mosquito infested swamp, a muddy bog ill-suited for military activity of any kind.


    Mavrokordatos Leading the Defense of Missolonghi


    Over the next month, the Ottomans made little progress towards victory as more men and munitions made their way into both camps in preparation for the inevitable second clash. The Ottoman attempts to construct mounds for their artillery ended in disaster as mudslides ruined three of their cannons and killed nearly two dozen men. Malaria also began to infect Vrioni’s camp making the already hellish situation worse for the Ottoman soldiers who began suffering from the disease within days. With the situation gradually deteriorating, Vrioni and his lieutenants had decided upon a cunning strategy with which to defeat the Greeks. They would attack on the night of Christmas Eve.

    While the Greeks celebrated their holiday with revelry and drinking, the Ottomans and Albanians make their attack. Under the cover of night, they would storm the walls of Missolonghi and seize the city from their unsuspecting foe. Vrioni’s plans were undone, however, by treachery within their own ranks. On the night of the 23rd, the day before the planned assault, Omer Vrioni’s very own secretary, a Greek page from the North, fled the Ottoman camp to Missolonghi, bringing with him news of the coming sneak attack. When the Ottomans made their attack, instead of finding their enemy drinking and feasting, they found the Greeks ready and waiting for them.

    In a surprising act of discipline and restraint, the men within Missolonghi held their fire until their adversary was in range of their fire and once they were they unleashed a withering volley upon the unsuspecting Turks and Albanians. Out of the 6,000 men sent against the ramparts of Missolonghi; not a single man reached the top of the walls. Most ran at the first sign of resistance, while those that pressed on were shot and killed where they were. Only a single company of Albanian mercenaries from Berat reached the ditch before the wall and for their valor they were cut down to a man. Once more, the Ottomans were repelled with terrible results.

    With the weather continuing to worsen and the Ottomans no closer to taking the city than they were two months ago, Omer Vrioni lifted the siege of Missolonghi on the 31st of December. While several bands of klephts and Souliotes would chase the fleeing Ottomans into the hills, the battle for Missolonghi was effectively over by the beginning of the new year. For Alexandros Mavrokordatos, his efforts in relieving Missolonghi had done wonders for his flagging support in the Government after his failure at Peta earlier that year. Sadly, for the Greeks they were forced to bury the Württembergian Karl von Normann-Ehrenels who finally succumbed to his wounds while leading the defense of the city in Mavrokordatos’ stead. While his time in Greece was short lived Normann’s efforts to aid the Greeks were monumental and would help pave the way to their victories in the coming year.

    Next Time: Men of War

    [1] As the name implies, Greek Hunts were just that, hunts of Greek peasants and prisoners by bored Ottoman soldiers. While this activity was not a new develop in this war, both sides were responsible for terrible acts of violence against the other’s civilians and soldiers, Vrioni used these hunt with alarming frequency. During the 1821 campaign alone, he effectively depopulated the countryside of Phocis and Boeotia of its Greek farmers who either fled to the protection of the hills and cities or they were caught and killed.

    [2] Karl von Normann-Ehrenels was a Württembergian General from the Napoleonic wars who came to Greece in the Spring of 1822 as a volunteer. Unfortunately, he was mortally wounded at the battle of Peta in mid-July and would later die of his wounds at Missolonghi. His experience as a soldier and leader was very valuable to the Greeks and his survival would have certainly helped them. Unfortunately, with the POD taking place after the Battle of Peta, I couldn't find a compelling reason for saving him.
     
    Part 7: Men of War
  • Part 7: Men of War


    Destruction of the Nasuh, Flagship of Kara Ali

    Following the disastrous Dramali Campaign and the meandering mess that was Vrioni’s siege of Missolonghi the Ottomans withdrew to their winter quarters in Epirus and Thessaly. Outside of the routine supply ship circumventing the Morea and the random border skirmish, the coming thaw of Spring in 1823 saw little movement on the part of the Porte. This inaction was a result of a plethora of issues plaguing the Ottoman military at the time, the most prominent being the dearth of available commanders for Sultan Mehmed to choose from. In the past six months alone, the Ottomans had lost three of their top commanders and a plethora of junior officers both on land and at sea, with the most serious loss being that of the Kapudan Pasha.

    The Kapudan Pasha of the Ottoman Navy, Kara Ali, had been directed by his Sultan to lead a punitive expedition against the Greek island of Chios. The inhabitants of the island had been accused of harboring dissidents and supplying the rebels on the mainland and for this they would be dealt with harshly. In truth though, the Chians had been an unwilling partner of the rebellion despite the prodding and plotting of their Samos countrymen who attacked Ottoman ships from the neutral harbors of Chios. This difference mattered little to the Turkish soldiers who gathered across the straits in Cesme waiting to attack. Chios as an important center of trade in the Aegean had become one of the richest possessions of the Ottoman Empire. It was said that at its height in the 18th Century, that even the poorest Chian lived a life of luxury. As such it proved to be an enticing target for many men seeking the spoils of war. Unable to prevent their crossing when Kara Ali’s fleet arrived, the Samiots fled leaving Chios to its fate.

    Initially, the Ottomans treated the fearful Chians fairly, only punishing those that actively stood against them. However, this quickly changed in the coming days. Soon the Chians were being massacred in the streets and in the hills, even those who had sought the protection of the church were slaughtered. Over the next several weeks, the Ottomans subjected the Chians to every brutality known to man and when they were through, the once prosperous island of Chios, home to over 120,000 people, had been decimated. Over 90,000 Greeks lay dead, and the remainder were enslaved or forced into exile.


    The Massacre at Chios

    The brutality of the Chian Massacre was in large part due to the death of Kara Ali at the hands of the Greeks. While docked off the coast of Chios on the 7th of June 1822, a fleet of Greek fire ships descended upon the Ottoman armada in the dead of night with the Greek commander, Constantine Kanaris of Psara, singling out the Kapudan Pasha’s ship for destruction. The nimbler Greek vessels managed to tie themselves alongside the Kapudan’s flagship before setting it ablaze. In the mayhem that followed, Kara Ali was killed while attempting to escape when a piece of burning rigging fell atop him. His men in their anger took their revenge against the people of Chios who were made scapegoats for the death of their leader, while Kanaris and his men escaped back to the safety of Free Greece.

    The loss of the Kapudan Pasha was soon followed by the Sultan’s own Serasker, Khursid Pasha. Khursid’s rapid rise to power in the Empire had earned him many allies but also many enemies, enemies which now made their move following the failures of the 1822 campaigns. Turning the Sultan’s ear against him, these vipers indicted Khursid with allegations of corruption and the theft of Ali Pasha of Ioannina’s treasure, treasure which rightfully belonged to the Sultan.[1] Despite pleas of his innocence, Mahmud was convinced by Khursid’s foes and ordered his arrest. For Khursid Pasha, this would mean his likely death, either at the Sultan’s command or those of his many rival’s. Choosing suicide over dishonor, the Serasker took his own life by ingesting poison rather than face the ire of the Sultan or the blade of an assassin.

    Dramali Pasha would himself meet with an unfortunate end as well, joining his hated superior in the afterlife.[2] Following his craven flight from Dervenakia, Dramali Pasha reentered Corinth a broken man. His pride in tatters, his reputation in tatters, and his army in tatters; his health soon began to fail him too. When a strain of typhus broke out within his camp, Dramali Pasha who was already in failing health succumbed to the disease in the waning days of December 1822.

    While Sultan Mehmed would eventually replace all three men, the loss in experience was still a bitter blow to the Ottoman war effort. Kara Ali, Khursid Pasha, and Dramali Pasha represented three of the most senior military men in the Ottoman Empire with over 60 years of combined military and administrative experience between them. The loss was felt most prominently in the Ottoman Navy, which was already dangerously lacking in skilled sailors following the defection of the Greek sailors and junior officers at the beginning of the war.[3] Kara Ali’s successor as Kapudan Pasha, Kara Mehmet, had proven to be an incompetent naval commander losing first at Nafplion and again at Tenedos in late November before he was ultimately relieved of his post.

    On land, the loss of Dramali and Khursid, while certainly painful, was more easily surmounted than the loss of Kara Ali. The real concern on land was in terms of manpower available. In terms of sheer size, the armies of the Porte could easily surpass the paltry sum of men opposing them, provided they could bring their full might to bare. Unfortunately for Sultan Mahmud II, other theaters took priority over the war in Greece, preventing the deployment of his entire army to the region.

    To the East, Persia invaded Eastern Anatolia in retaliation for Ottoman sponsored raids by the Azeris. The war, while limited in scope and scale, occupied the attention of the vast Asian armies drawing them south and east. To the North was the Russian Empire, whose constant threats of intervention and ill will towards the Porte drew additional men to the border. Despite the Porte’s recent attempts to placate the Russian Bear, they remained angered by the execution of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the occupation of the Danubian Principalities. Finally, across the Balkans, men were needed to quell the rebellions of the Serbs and Danubians. While defeated, the Serbs and Danubians still proved to be a rebellious bunch, requiring constant oversight to prevent another insurrection.


    The Persian Army invades Anatolia

    While only a small fraction of the Ottoman Army was available to reconquer Greece, this fraction was still many times larger than the number assembled by the Greeks.[4] These armies were augmented further by large numbers of Albanian mercenaries, who despite their high prices, proved to be adequate fighters. However, the Ottoman armies of Sultan Mahmud II were not the armies of Sultan Mehmet II. While they possessed quantity, they lacked in quality. Over the years, the discipline of the Ottoman army had been allowed to deteriorate over time. Units would often attack irregularly and without precision. Officers frequently ignored their commander’s orders owing to competition and rivalries. The morale of the Ottoman Army had also plummeted over the past century as decades of corruption and defeat on the field of battle gradually took their toll. Their weaponry, while leaps and bounds above that of the Greeks, was still largely outdated in comparison to most Western European militaries. Nowhere was this decay of military tradition more evident than in the Janissary Corps.

    Once the pride of the Ottoman Army, by the beginning of the 19th Century the Janissaries were the epitome of everything wrong with it. Bloated by corruption and malpractice, they had devolved from a disciplined fighting force renowned for its prowess to a pathetic batch of rabble rousers and malcontents renowned for killing their leaders. They were self-indulgent, vain, lazy, and even craven to an extent. When previous sultans attempted to rectify the growing decadence of the Janissaries, they were swiftly removed from power by their so-called servants, usually meeting an unfortunate end with a blade in the back or a bowstring around the neck. With the offending Sultan removed from power, the Janissaries would install a more compliant Sultan to the throne before returning to their decadent ways.

    Mahmud II had himself come to power through the machinations of the Janissaries when they killed his cousin Selim III and removed his Mustafa IV from the throne. By the start of the Greek rebellion, the Janissaries openly refused to even muster for the war, choosing to remain in their lavish barracks in Constantinople rather than fight in an arduous war.[5] As such, Mahmud had come to despise them for their interference into his affairs and their constant resistance to reform, reform which he believed was becoming increasingly necessary for the Empire.


    Ottoman Janissaries

    The Greeks on the other hand possessed many of the same problems as the Ottomans. Their leaders suffered from the same rivals and bickering that plagued the Turks. Their manpower was constantly an issue as the vast majority of their fighters were irregulars that disappeared following a battle. Most bands acted autonomously in complete disregard of orders from on high. Weaponry also proved to be a thorny issue as many Greeks carried antiquated muskets, and rifles were a rarity in Greece. It was more likely for a Moreot to enter battle carrying a sword than a gun in the first year of the war and it had improved only marginally over the second. Cavalry and artillery units were non-existent outside of a few rare cases What they lacked in numbers and equipment, though they made up for in morale and fighting prowess.

    Most Greeks though were proficient in the art of war, with many having served overseas in the Napoleonic wars for various states. Theodoros Kolokotronis had served in the British Army as a Major in the Greek Light Infantry Regiment, formed in the Ionian Islands. Demetrios Ypsilantis had served in the Russian army, albeit as a general staff officer, and various other exiles and diaspora Greeks had fought across Europe as soldiers or sailors on both sides of the war. Those that remained in Greece before the war generally made their way as klephts or armatolis, brigands and bodyguards. The Greeks were also extremely proficient in sailing and naval warfare thanks in large part to the islanders and their vast merchant fleets. While their small merchantmen paled in comparison to the mighty Ships of the Line of the Ottoman Fleet, their captains could deftly maneuver their nimbler vessels through the narrow seas and straits of the Aegean where their Ottoman counterparts could not follow. By far though, the biggest advantage the Greeks held over their Ottoman adversaries was foreign support.


    A Greek Klepht

    Over the first year of the war alone, nearly 500 foreign volunteers arrived in Greece to aid the rebels in their quest for independence. They came from Britain, France, Italy, Russia, Hungary, Poland, and even the Americas. These volunteers or Philhellenes were from all walks of life but many were veterans of the Napoleonic wars with years of experience fighting in the modern art of war. They came to Greece to fight, to lead, and to inspire, and while their efforts to instill their tactics and strategy into the Greeks were largely unsuccessful early on, their own martial prowess greatly surpassed both Greek and Ottoman alike. Unfortunately, the Massacre at Peta would do much to dampen the spirits of Philhellenes across the world. What had once been a flood of foreign support gradually dried up over the following months. While foreigners would continue to enlist in Greek units and donate supplies, money, and weapons, they would not reach the same level as before Peta.

    Fortunately for the Greeks the Ottomans were themselves going through a period of reorganization over the Winter and Spring of 1823. With one army decimated, and another of questionable capability, Sultan Mahmud II was forced to call upon the services of his most fearsome, and rebellious, vassal, Muhammed Ali Pasha, Khedive of Egypt. While negotiations over his support would last well into the year, by Summer, the Ottomans were once again ready to strike against the traitorous Greeks. It is fortunate then that the Greeks during this brief respite had done some reforms of their own both militarily and politically, for soon their efforts would be put to the test once more.


    The List of Philhellenes who volunteered in the War of Independence,

    Located at the National Museum of History in Athens.

    Next Time: The Assembly of Nafplion


    [1] Khursid Pasha had been responsible for defeating Ali Pasha of Ioannina in 1821 and seized his vast treasure for the Sultan. The amount he gave was a sum of 40,000,000 Piastres, but Mahmud’s ministers reported Ali Pasha’s wealth at 500,000,000 Piastres, a sum worth roughly 25,000,000 Pounds Sterling at the time or nearly 2 billion Pounds in today's money. These charges of corruption combined with the failure of his subordinates ruined Khursid’s reputation allowing his opponents to pounce.

    [2] Allegedly, Dramali Pasha, being a distant relative of Sultan Mehmed, considered himself superior to Khursid Pasha and had every intent on surpassing him. This in part explains his hubris and overconfidence during his Morea Campaign in 1822 which was his attempt at stealing all the glory for himself.

    [3] Prior to the war, the Ottoman navy was almost entirely manned by Greek sailors, with Turkish officers in command of the ships themselves. When the war began these sailors defected to the Greek side, effectively leaving the Ottomans without any real experienced crews to operate their ships. This enabled the Greeks to gain control of the Aegean Sea for the first few years of the war in OTL while the Ottomans refilled their ranks.

    [4] The numbers for the total strength of the Greeks is hard to come by as I don’t have any confirmed figures. During the later stages of the war in OTL, the Greek Government attempted to instate conscription across Greece and the sum of men they came to was around 30,000 over three years. This never actually came to fruition so its not extremely reliable, still it is a starting point.

    [5] Though not confirmed, it is believed that the Janissaries set fire to the arsenal at Tophana on the Asian side of the Bosporus strait in Constantinople. The entire stockpile of ammunition, cannons, and guns were destroyed along with 50 mosques and thousands of houses. The event was officially blamed on the Greeks but likely the Janissaries were probably responsible for the fire.
     
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    Part 8: The Assembly of Nafplion
  • Part 8: The Assembly of Nafplion


    The Constitution of Epidauros

    During the early months of 1823, a curious event took place across war torn Greece. Elections were held for the first time to elect representatives for the Second National Assembly where over 250 delegates would gather to revise the Greek Constitution. The current constitution of Greece, the Provisional Constitution of Epidauros, had been written by 59 delegates at the National Assembly of Epidauros during the opening days of January 1822. Declaring the independence of Greece from the Ottoman Empire and establishing Greece as the “Hellenic Republic”, the Constitution of Epidauros detailed a vast array of political institutions that were to be implemented in Free Greece.[1]

    Among other things the Constitution established voting rights for Greek men above the age of 30. The Greek Orthodox Church was established as the preeminent and official religion of Greece and would form the basis of civil rights for the Greek people. There was to be equality before the law for all Greek citizens, the security of property was to be established across Greece, and finally, the tenant of no taxation without proper legalization was enshrined in the document. Most importantly, the Constitution created and defined the three separate but equal branches of the government, a Legislature, an Executive, and a Judiciary.

    The Legislative Branch, or Hellenic Senate, was a legislative body of 70 elected representatives from the provinces of Greece each serving a one year term. Their powers and responsibilities included the power to write, vote on and pass legislation for the State of Greece, declare wars, make peace treaties, and create a budget for the state. The Executive was to be a 5-person body whose members were to be appointed by the Assembly with each member serving a 1 year term. The Executive would be responsible for running the government, appointing ministers to the various departments of government, and most importantly it would control the military and conduct the war effort. Finally, the Judiciary would be an institution independent of the Senate and Executive, and would provide judicial oversight of the laws in Greece. Until the time a new legal code could be written for the state, Byzantine law would be the dominant legal code of Greece in all matters except commercial, where French law would take precedence.

    The Constitution of Epidauros was in many ways meant to be a temporary solution for the many political and economic problems facing the people of Greece. The delegates had the foresight to include one last clause in the document, scheduling a second assembly in one year’s time which would revise many of the faults found within the document and by the beginning of 1823, it had become abundantly clear that it was in desperate need of attention. While the members of the Senate, were supposed to be elected by the people of the Provinces, the ongoing war disrupted that effort and in many cases the local Primates elected themselves due to their wealth and influence. The Judiciary had not been established in any definitive manner and in its absence local magnates took the law into their own hands to the displeasure of the people. The Senate and Executive were constantly prone to infighting over the scope and scale of their powers especially when it came to financing and directing the war.

    So, it was that the final clause of the Provisional Constitution of Epidauros was invoked on the 15th of March 1823 calling for a new National Assembly to be held at Nafplion to amend the text. Nafplion had been chosen as the site for a variety of reasons, firstly Tripolitsa was dealing with a terrible plague which ravaged the city and its hinterland, any site in Rumelia was too close to the front for an event of this importance to take place, and the Moreots and Rumeliotes explicitly refused to venture to the islands for the Assembly. So it was decided that Nafplion would host the event due to its strong defensive fortifications, its central location and ease of access for many of the delegate. It also held a significant symbolic importance to the Greeks having just recently being liberated from the Ottomans. Demetrios Ypsilantis, as commandant of the city following the capture of the castles Palamidi and Akronafplion, acquiesced to the Government’s request, effectively making the city the capital of Greece, a matter that was quickly made de jure in the opening days of the Assembly in a near unanimous vote.[2]


    Nafplion, Capital of the Hellenic Republic and site of the Second National Assembly

    After the introduction of delegates and the exchange of platitudes, the Assembly elected the Maniot, Petros “Petrobey” Mavromichalis as President of the Assembly.[3] Turning their attention to the main topic of debate at the Assembly, amending the constitution, Mavromichalis appointed Alexandros Mavrokordatos with the task of revising the document. As a skilled orator and diplomat, Mavrokordatos was in many ways the perfect candidate for the job and after several days Mavrokordatos and his committee revealed their amended constitution. The Constitution of Nafplion would retain many of the same principles of the prior Constitution of Epidauros, but there were several distinct differences between the two namely:

    · The members of the Executive shall be appointed by the Senate.

    · The extent of the Executive’s veto power is to be reduced from those of an absolute veto to those of a suspending veto.

    · The office of Foreign Minister is to be dissolved and its duties and responsibilities absorbed into the Executive.

    · The office of War Minister shall be expanded into a three-member Committee of War.

    · The Freedoms and Privileges of the Press are to be protected throughout all the lands of Greece.

    · The institution of slavery is to be henceforth abolished throughout all the lands of Greece.

    · Voting rights are to be expanded to Greek Men no less than 25 years of age, down from the previously established minimum age of 30 years of age.

    These amendments were generally acceptable to the assembly and were quickly adopted by relatively large margins. This unity would not last as two additional resolutions of great contention came to the fore following these revisions. Up to this point Greece was more of a patchwork of disparate communities working together in a loose alliance, an alliance that could be broken at any time, rather than a centralized state that was united in perpetuity.[4] To rectify this, several members within the Assembly put forth a measure calling for the establishment of 60 districts, from the mainland to the Aegean Islands, with each under the control of a Government appointed official. Politics created strange bedfellows, however, as this measure was ultimately rejected by the combined representatives of Hydra, Spetses, and the Morea. Their opposition was derived primarily from the fact that the measure would provide them even less autonomy than what they had enjoyed under the Turk, autonomy they refused to surrender.

    The only matter that the islanders agreed to budge on was the abolition of the regional legislatures. As they held a strong grip on the Hellenic Senate, the delegates of Islanders, chiefly Hydra and Spetses, proved amenable to stripping the mainlanders of their regional senates. Despite the vigorous opposition of the Moreots they lacked a figure with which to rally around resulting in a boisterous but incoherent opposition. Ultimately, they were overruled by the rest of the assembly and the measure was passed by a narrow margin, abolishing the Senate of the Morea, the Western Rumelian Senate, and the Eastern Rumelian Senate.

    The second proposal dealt with the raising of money through the sale of vacant Turkish property. Though this measure was promoted to finance the war effort, it was a coalition of military captains from the Morea and Rumelia which opposed the bill. Believing it to be a scheme to further enrich the Primates at the expense of the people, they threatened mutiny unless the measure was shelved. Taking a different course, the property was proposed as collateral for foreign loans, and despite the continued resistance of the Captains, this new measure passed by a healthy margin.

    The last item up for debate at the National Assembly of Nafplion were the elections for the new Executive and Senate Presidency. When it came to the nomination of a new President of the Executive, Alexandros Mavrokordatos declined a second term as President of the Hellenic Republic, and was instead appointed to serve as General Secretary of the Executive, while Petros Mavromichalis would be elected President of the Executive in his stead. The Presidency of the Senate was granted to Ioannis Orlandos, a minor merchant from Hydra and brother in law of the wealthy and powerful merchant Georgios Kountouriotis. To mollify the angered Moreots over their reduced autonomy, the Executive was primarily stocked with Moreots and Islanders owing to their great influence over the assembly, with Andreas Zaimis, Sotiris Charalamvis, Ioannis Kolettis, and Panayiotis Botasis rounding it out.[5] By the end of the Second National Assembly on the 15th of April, the only major office left unfilled was that of Commander in Chief, which had remained vacant since Theodoros Kolokotronis’ death in December.


    Petros “Petrobey” Mavromichalis, 2nd President of the Hellenic Republic (Left) and Ioannis Orlandos, 2nd President of the Hellenic Senate (Right)

    The office had been created specifically for Theodoros Kolokotronis in the lead up to Dervenakia, and many of his former friends and supporters desired to have the rank retired in honor of his service to Greece. Others wanted to fill the position themselves or with a candidate of their liking.[6] Ultimately, it fell to Demetrios Ypsilantis. Ypsilantis for better or worse was a man of influence in the Assembly. His wealth, education, and background demanded attention and his efforts thus far had been commendable. The castles of Palamidi and Akronafplion, which overlooked the grounds upon which the assemble met provided a constant reminder to the delegates of his achievement in securing Nafplion where even Theodoros Kolokotronis had failed.

    The main motivation for his candidacy, however, was politics. Demetrios had thus far been a prominent supporter of the civilian government and its control over the military which made him amenable to the Primates in the Assembly. He was also well respected by many officers and Captains at the Assembly as he lived among them and worked alongside them as an equal. Most importantly, he was an outsider, as a Phanariot, he had been shielded from the intricate feuds and heated rivalries between the various parties at the Assembly. It was no secret that groups and individuals in attendance at Nafplion were distrusting of each other at best and downright hostile towards one another at worst. Recognized as an impartial adjudicator and a neutral actor in the party politics, Ypsilantis represented a moderate solution for many at the Assembly who sought merely to prevent their rivals from taking the position for themselves. With a consensus built, Demetrios arose as a compromise candidate for the office of Commander in Chief of the Greek Military.

    Ypsilantis would quickly find that his office was largely toothless. As Commander in Chief of the Greek Military he was officially responsible for the organization and execution of the war effort under the purview of the Executive’s Committee of War. The government, however, provided him with little support or direction as petty infighting continued to gridlock the Senate and Executive over the coming months. The Committee frequently interfered with Ypsilantis’ stratagems, limiting his offensive and defensive capabilities, and the Senate strictly regulated his resources, limiting what men and supplies he could draw upon. Whatever funding that had been allocated for the purchase of arms or the raising of armies was instead wasted on corrupt policies and individuals that did little more than line the pockets of their benefactors.

    Demetrios also found himself in charge of an army which no longer existed in any meaningful form, as the regular army had been all but abolished due to rising expenses and diminishing returns. While a few units still existed, they accounted for less than 1,500 soldiers spread out across all of Greece. The irregulars, the klephts and the militias who had provided the bulk of the Greek manpower thus far in the war, openly refused to obey his commands as their loyalty remained first and foremost with their captains and their kin. The only troops which actively listened to him were the Philhellenes that had journeyed to Greece and the soldiers paid from his own pockets, an act which would nearly bankrupt him. Even still, he managed to dispatch some trusted supporters to the various fronts in Greece, from Missolonghi to Corinth, to assist in the efforts there and hopefully rein in the more autonomous commanders.

    One last insult was that his appoint to his office was prerequisite on his surrendering of Palamidi to the Government, an act which rendered him completely impotent politically and susceptible to replacement. The retention of his position would be based solely upon his results and the favor of the Government. So, it was that Demetrios Ypsilantis was cast adrift as the head of a military that barely existed and the leader of men who hardly obeyed him.

    Next Time: Karpenisi


    [1] While Greece was established as a Republic at the Assembly of Epidauros, there was a general concern among the delegates that this would deter foreign support, which they desperately needed. As a result, they left the door open to a monarchy being established in Greece after the war was concluded.

    [2] When the Second National Assembly was being organized, the Government asked Theodoros Kolokotronis permission to have it set in Nafplion. Theodoros refused, believing it was a ploy by his rivals to seize the city from him. Eventually, when the Greek Government forced Theodoros out of Nafplion during the First Greek Civil War in 1823, they immediately designated the city as the capital of Greece, so I see no reason why they wouldn’t do so here as well especially without Theodoros’ resistance.

    [3] Petros Mavromichalis was an interesting character. Petrobey was the Bey of the Mani Peninsula, an autonomous or semi-independent region of the Morea with a long history of unrest against the Ottoman Empire. When Alexander Ypsilantis sparked the rebellion in the Danubian Principalities it was Petros Mavromichalis who started the war in the Morea by attacking the Ottoman garrison at Kalamata. After that his role in the war was relatively limited until the Second National Assembly in Astros in OTL where he was elected President of the Assembly.

    [4] The government of Greece during the war of independence was akin to the United States under the Articles of Confederation. The Central Government was incredibly weak with no real authority over the many islands, cities, and regions of Greece. Establishing this authority was incredibly difficult in OTL and it will still be difficult even in this timeline.

    [5] The makeup of the Executive is a combination of the 1823 and 1824 Members. The Executive that was formed in the Second National Assembly was entirely comprised of Theodoros Kolokotronis and his supporters, Petros Mavromichalis, Sotiris Charalamvis, Konstantinos Metaxas, and Andreas Zaimis. With him dead, there is no need to mollify Theodoros in this manner, resulting in a more balanced Executive like the 1822 one. Lastly, no one cares about the concerns or interests of the Roumeliotes which is the same as OTL.

    [6] In OTL it was actually Kolokotronis’ opponents who had the office of Commander in Chief abolished to rein in the Old Man. With his death, the rationale behind that decision has been reversed from an attempt to weaken him to an attempt to honor him, if somewhat begrudgingly.
     
    Part 9: Karpenisi
  • Part 9: Karpenisi


    The Souliotes March to War

    In July 1823, the War with Persia was finally concluded freeing up tens of thousands of soldiers. Though most wouldn’t see service in Greece, the increase in manpower was certainly welcome following the loss of Dramali’s army. Of the 26,000 men who entered the Morea in July, only 6,000 remained come March. Nearly 8,000 had been lost at Dervenakia, killed, captured or missing, and over the winter, another 10,000 had been lost to starvation, disease and attrition from the Greeks beyond their walls. Those that remained soon abandoned Corinth and made their way for the safety Patras, leaving 1,000 wounded and disease-ridden men behind.

    Within hours of their departure from Corinth they were beset by Greek marauders under the command of Panos Kolokotronis and Niketas Stamatelopoulos who ruthlessly hunted their beleaguered prey across the Morean littoral. Chasing the fleeing Turks to town of Akrata, the growing number of Moreots quickly surrounded those that remained and began to besiege their enemy. When word reached Yusuf Pasha in Patras a week later, he immediately dispatched ships and riders to aid in the rescue of his countrymen, but by the time his men arrived, barely 2,000 Turks remained. Surprisingly, those left at Corinth would manage to withstand the Greek attacks until September, when starvation finally forced their surrender.

    While they had ceded Corinth to the Greeks in the Morea, the Ottomans were preparing for another offensive across the Gulf in Rumelia. Following the withdrawal of Omer Vrioni from Missolonghi, he was replaced by Mustafa Pasha Bushatli. Mustafa, like Vrioni, was an Albanian from a distinguished and powerful family, a family that had grown incredibly powerful under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Sultans gaining dominion over the Sanjaks of Scutari and Berat. Mustafa had proven himself to be a talented and influential figure in Western Rumelia and thus was appointed control over the Ottoman Army in Western Greece after Vrioni’s failures the year before.

    Raising a force of 10,000 Albanian mercenaries and Ottoman soldiers, Mustafa Pasha departed south from his base in Ohrid in late July. In his path lay the imposing 5 mile stretch of the Makrinoros mountains south of Arta. The mountains, ranged one behind the other in endless ranks, separated by deep valleys and narrow ravines. Their jagged rocks pierced the blue orb of the sky and their mighty peaks challenged the heavens above. The road was especially perilous, with shifting rocks underfoot and falling stones overhead. Nowhere in all of Greece was there a place better to stage an ambush or conduct a determined defense than the Mountains of Makrinoros.

    Unfortunately, Mustafa’s scouts confirmed his worst fears, the Makrinoros had been reclaimed by the Greeks. Vrioni in his hasty retreat, had failed to properly garrison the region, enabling the enemy to reestablish themselves over the winter. Not wishing to waste countless days and numerous lives on a needless assault in the mountains, Mustafa Pasha marched his army inland, away from the Epirote coast and the perilous roads of the Makrinoros, traveling first to Trikala and then onto the small village of Karpenisi in the highlands of the Pindos Mountains. His advance had not gone unnoticed however as his journey had taken him squarely into the sights of the Souliotes.


    The Dance of Zalongo[1]

    The Souliotes were an Albanian people who tended to have more in common with their Greek neighbors than their Albanian kinsmen to the North. While they spoke an Albanian dialect, they shared the Orthodox faith of the Hellenes, wore Greek clothing, followed Greek customs, and were for all intents and purposes considered Greeks by the Ottoman bureaucracy. The Souliotes drew their name from the crescent valley of Souli in Epirus which had been their homeland for generations. Renowned as a warlike and rebellious people the Souliotes, fought tooth and nail to defend it from all outsiders.

    Despite their conviction and their strength of arms, they were eventually driven from their valley by Ali Pasha of Ioannina in 1803 when a traitor by the name of Pelios Gousis guided a force of Turks into the Souli Valley. With no other choice, the defeated Souliotes were forced into exile, with many fleeing to the Ionian Islands for refuge. While in exile the Souliotes earned a reputation as excellent soldiers, fighting alongside the French, British, and Russians during the later years of the Napoleonic Wars. Despite numbering only 12,000 people at their height, nearly 3,000 Souliot Men and boys would travel to Greece to take up arms against the Ottoman government once more during the Greek War of Independence. No Souliot was more vigorous, nor more noble in the cause of independence than the man widely believed to be their leader, Markos Botsaris.


    Markos Botsaris, Souliot leader and Strategos of the Western Greek Army

    Markos Botsaris was a leading captain among the Souliotes, hailing from the powerful Botsaris clan. As the son of a family renowned for its warrior tradition and unwavering resistance against the Ottomans, Markos led a life of conflict. Like the rest of his kin, Markos had fought against Ali Pasha in the Souliot War of 1803, a conflict which resulted in the death of his father and the expulsion of his people from their homeland. Forced into exile in the Ionian Islands, Markos entered the service of the French Empire of Napoleon in the French Souliot Regiment. While many of his kin chose to side with the British when they took the Ionian Islands, Botsaris instead remained loyal to France and traveled with them to the mainland. Markos would continue fighting alongside the French and even rising to the rank of Captain before the surrender of Napoleon in 1814.

    With the war over, the Greek and Souliot units formed in the Ionian islands were disbanded. Botsaris and many Souliot and Greek exiles finding themselves unemployed, quickly became destitute without their former occupation. With no other option, Botsaris and a company of fellow Souliotes traveled to the Court of Tsar Alexander of Russia seeking commissions in the Russian Army. While their request was politely declined by the Tsar, their venture was not entirely fruitless. While in St. Petersburg, Botsaris and many of his company encountered representatives of the newly founded Filiki Eteria, the Society of Friends.[2] Enticed by its promises of liberty, justice, and independence, Markos Botsaris joined the society as one of its first members and upon his return to Corfu he began building support for the eventual return of his people to the mainland in preparation for the coming rebellion. This support would come from an unlikely source.

    Ali Pasha of Ioannina had been the one to drive the Souliotes from their homeland in 1803 and yet in 1820 he himself invited them back in return for their aid in fighting the Ottomans. Ali Pasha had been provoked into rebellion by Sultan Mahmud II, who seeking to curtail the power of his vassals instigated the conflict between them. Encouraged by the prospect of reclaiming their homeland, Markos Botsaris and the Souliotes jumped at the offer and joined with their former enemy. While Ali Pasha was eventually defeated in January 1822, the Souliotes had returned to their hills and were determined to hold them against the vengeful Ottomans. Recognizing the need for new allies, the Souliotes, under the encouragement of Botsaris and his allies, aligned themselves with the Greeks and joined them in their cause of independence. Sadly, despite the attempts of the Greeks to aid them, Botsaris and the Souliotes were forced to flee their homeland once more and flee to the refuge of Missolonghi.

    Nearly a year later, Markos Botsaris prepared to travel North once more to confront the approaching Ottoman Army of Mustafa Pasha. While he had initially set out with only 350 men, several local captains joined with Botsaris, swelling his ranks over 1200 by the time he reached Karpenisi on the night of the 21st. Among his men was a certain Alexander Kantakouzenos, the personal assistant of Demetrios Ypsilantis.[3] Seeking to sure up support in Western Rumelia, Ypsilantis had dispatched his close friend to the region with whatever men he could muster on short notice. Arriving in time to join Botsaris in his mission, Kantakouzenos traveled north with the Souliot to Karpenisi ready to aid him however he could. Even with the added men, Botsaris was still greatly outnumbered against Mustafa Pasha’s host of 10,000 and a pitched battle would certainly favor the more numerous Ottomans over his men.

    Botsaris, however, had a solution. Rather than wait for the Albanians to come at them in the morning, they would attack now while the radiance of the moon still glistened in the night sky. Under the cover of darkness Botsaris and a small group would quietly infiltrate the Ottoman camp and sew chaos in their ranks. As his men were Albanians speakers themselves, Botsaris and his Souliotes would make the initial move while the others waited for the signal to join in support. Two days before the scheduled attack, Botsaris and his men made their way into camp of Mustafa Pasha in a dry run of the planned raid, taking note of weapons caches, supply dumps, the location of the stables, and the area where tents for officers were stationed. The Souliotes blended in seamlessly with their Muslim cousins, making their way in and out of the camp with ease and by the night of the 21st, they were ready for the real thing. At midnight, the attack was sprung.


    The Valleys of Karpenisi

    Tents were suddenly cast aflame sending the Ottoman camp into Pandemonium. Horses ran wild through the camp, while soldiers, awoke in the dead of night to the horror unfolding before them. In the chaos of it all, the Souliotes fell upon the confused and weary Albanians, killing many in the process. During the engagement, however, Botsaris suffered an injury to the groin while attempting to climb a barricade in clear view of an awaiting Albanian soldier from Shkoder. According to accounts of the battle, Botsaris bravely stood amidst a hail of bullets, flying in both directions, emerging from unscathed but for a blow to his right ear and cheek. His assailant had, however, been cut down by the timely arrival of Kantakouzenos and his men who had joined the fray as instructed.[4] While still alive, the injury forced his withdrawal from the engagement and would unfortunately plague him for the remainder of his life. The retreat of Botsaris combined with the very apparent arrival of more Ottoman soldiers signaled the end of the battle.

    Regardless, the encounter had been an extraordinary victory for Botsaris and his men. A vast trove of horses, mules, sheep, muskets, and pistols had been seized, and over 1,000 enemy soldiers had been slain or wounded at the cost of only a dozen Souliotes. The Battle of Karpenisi was an unfortunate setback for Mustafa Pasha, but not an insurmountable one.[5] It had also alerted him to the significant threat posed by Botsaris and his men, a threat he endeavored to mitigate should they meet again. While it would take another two days for the Albanians to regroup, by the morning of the 24th, they set out once more towards Missolonghi.

    Botsaris and his men also regrouped further down the road near Mount Kaliakouda with the intention of ambushing Mustafa Pasha once again as they passed through the valley below. By this time word of his attack at Karpenisi had spread like wildfire, causing his small force to rise from 450 to nearly 2,000 Souliotes and Roumeliotes. Botsaris’ injuries unfortunately began to take their toll. Lacked the same vigor as before, the Souliot was soon bedridden with a terrible illness, preventing him from leading the second attack personally as he had done at Karpenisi. Without their leader, the Souliot attacks proved to be a sloppy mess. Lacking the discipline and Elan of Botsaris, they were successfully repulsed by Mustafa Pasha’s Albanians who were now alert to the stratagems of their enemy. With Botsaris and his men forced to retreat once more into the hills, the road to Missolonghi was finally clear. The only obstacle remaining in their path was the tiny hamlet of Anatolikon.

    Next Time: Water from Fire


    [1] The Dance of Zalongo was an event near the end of the Souliot War of 1803, when 20-30 Souliot women and their children committed suicide to avoid capture by Ali Pasha.

    [2] Despite its name, the Filiki Eteria was a secret organization dedicated to the liberation of Greece and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire. Originally founded in 1815, it quickly became a popular movement of Greek intellectuals, merchants, and soldiers within the Ottoman Empire. Its members include Alexander Ypsilantis as its leader from 1818 to 1821, his brother Demetrios Ypsilantis, Theodoros Kolokotronis, Markos Botsaris, Petros Mavromichalis, and many, many more.

    [3] Alexander Kantakouzenos was a close friend and companion to Demetrios Ypsilantis. The two traveled to the Morea together in the opening days of the war with Kantakouzenos effectively acting as Ypsilantis’ secretary and confidant. I know little about him, except for his name and relation to Demetrios Ypsilantis, so everything I am will be writing regarding will be conjecture. If anyone does know more please let me know.

    [4] In OTL Botsaris was killed in the Battle of Karpenisi in a moment of very bad luck on his part. I rationalize Botsaris’ survival at Karpenisi to the involvement of Kantakouzenos and his men. In the OTL battle, Botsaris was effectively fighting alone with only his own men, which left him dangerously exposed. The Greek Captains that had joined with him refrained from joining the battle either due to cowardice or incompetence resulting in the death of Botsaris. With the addition of Kantakouzenos and his men, however meager they may be, he manages to survive, albeit barely.

    [5] Coincidently, the battle of Karpenisi in OTL was fought entirely between Albanians, the Souliotes on the Greek side and Mustafa Pasha’s Shkodrans.
     
    Part 10: Water from Fire
  • Part 10: Water from Fire


    Anatoliko on the Lagoon[1]

    With the Souliotes beaten back Mustafa Pasha halted to gather his supplies at the town of Agrinion, nearly a day’s march from Missolonghi. In the two battles, thus far with the at Karpenisi and Mount Kaliakouda, the Ottomans had lost thousands of muskets and pistols, and an unknown number of horses, mules, and livestock leaving them desperately short of resources. Nearly a sixth of his army had also been lost to injury or death in the two battles thus far, stretching his already thin ranks even further. After a week of waiting Omer Vrioni finally arrived with reinforcements amounting to 5,000 men and nearly 700 wagons laden down with food, clothing, and munitions, restocking the depleted arsenal of Mustafa Pashas army.

    By mid-September the combined Ottoman armies departed Agrinion for Missolonghi and subsequently laid siege to the city for the second time on the 20th of September. Leading the defense of the city was an Eptanesian named Konstantinos Metaxas from the isle of Cephalonia.[2] Metaxas had been appointed by the government as the Governor General of Western Greece, a position of little to no power, and established himself in Missolonghi due to its strategic importance and strong defensibility. Though he was tasked with pushing the Ottomans from the region, most of his efforts were exhausted settling disputes between the separate factions in the city, with the Souliotes generally being the most obnoxious and disruptive bunch. Were it not for the efforts of Markos Botsaris and the other more reasonable captains of the Souliotes, it is likely that the Greeks would have fought against them rather than with them.


    Konstantinos Metaxas, Governor General of Western Greece in 1823

    It was unfortunate for Metaxas then that Botsaris had still not returned by the time Mustafa Pasha arrived outside Missolonghi. It was undeniable that Markos Botsaris held incredible sway in all Western Greece, a fact that was made infamous by the open disregard of Metaxas by the Souliotes within the cities walls. They were fiercely loyal to their own chieftains and openly flaunted Metaxas’s meager authority, they constantly demanded extensive bribes for their services however minor they may have been, some even resorted to blackmail against Metaxas to gain his obedience. Still, despite their slights Konstantinos Metaxas proved himself to be an able administrator and most importantly, a relatively talented military man in defensive situations.

    Mustafa Pasha soon learned, much as Vrioni had before him, that the lagoon upon which Missolonghi sat, provided the city with excellent defenses as well as a near infinite supply of fish. There also existed a number of hidden routes crossing the lagoon where the water was shallower than the rest enabling easier travel by foot, which the Greeks used to great success, smuggling men, munitions, and food into the city. To take the city, the Mustafa Pasha would need to deny the Greeks access to the lagoon by securing it in its entirety. It would be a long and grueling process as the Greeks had fortified the islands, sandbanks, and townships that dotted across the lagoon over the last year.

    The first target was to be the small village of Anatoliko located at the northern end of the lagoon. Situated upon an island amidst the delta spanning the Missolonghi lagoon and the Anatoliko lagoon, it provided the first line of defense for Missolonghi. In the days leading up to the first siege of Missolonghi, Anatoliko had been left undefended allowing Omer Vrioni to brush past it on his way to his main target. This time however, Konstantinos Metaxas had recognized its importance and stationed a company of no more than 200 men in total on the island. Their only orders were to hold as long as possible against a force at least 10 times their own.

    When the Ottomans attempted to cross over to the island on the 22nd, they were easily repelled by the Greek defenders when they became stuck in the thick mud surrounding the islet. Mustafa Pasha, realizing that further assaults on the island would be detrimental to his attack on Missolonghi, chose to starve Anatoliko out instead. Both banks of the lagoon were seized by the Ottomans and cannons were brought in to reduce the Greeks defenses on the island to rubble. Metaxas initially managed to work around the Ottoman besiegers by smuggling food and water onto the island, but within days their route into Anatoliko was discovered by the Ottomans who quickly closed this last corridor to the Greeks. With their only supply line to the outside world cut, conditions rapidly began to deteriorate in Anatoliko.


    The Siege of Anatoliko

    While food was still plentiful due to the large bounty of fish in the waters surrounding the town, their supplies of fresh water were becoming increasingly scarce. Adding to their woes a stray cannon ball careened into the town’s chapel setting the structure ablaze. With their church in flames, it looked as if God himself had abandoned them. Falling into a deep despair, the Greeks considered surrender, but from their darkest depression emerge a new hope as water began to rise from beneath the ruined church. The cannon ball had revealed a hidden spring of fresh water from underneath the chapel’s floor. Whether this turn of events was a miracle sent from god or an incredible act of luck, no one can say.

    Regardless, the belief that God was on their side, stiffened the resolve of the Greeks on Anatoliko who continued to resist the Ottomans besieging them. Mustafa Pasha’s efforts at Missolonghi had also been lacking as well as he proved unable to seize control of the lagoon from the Greeks. His efforts at Anatoliko were just one failure out of many, his attempts to seize the island of Dolmas had been successful, but at a steep cost, over 1,000 casualties to 100 for the Greeks, and his efforts to take Klisova to the East of Missolonghi had been bloodily repulsed. As had been the case the year before, the winter rains continued to make a mess of the Ottoman camp and malaria once again made it way through the Ottoman ranks. Worst of all was the arrival of Markos Botsaris who had finally recovered from his injuries at Karpenisi on the 21st of October. Alongside him were 600 Souliotes and Roumeliotes and his longtime rival Kitsos Tzavelas.[3]


    Kitsos Tzavelas, Souliot Captain and archrival to Markos Botsaris

    The arrival of the Souliotes to his rear, while not an existential issue for Mustafa Pasha, was a problematic one, especially for his already tenuous supply situation. As was the case at Karpenisi, the Souliotes easily infiltrated the Ottoman camp on several occasions much to the ire of Mustafa and Vrioni. Despite all their efforts to oppose Botsaris and Tzavelas, they continually managed to find a way through their pickets. At first the Souliotes simply attacked the supply lines running from the north and guards sent out to protect them, but as the siege progressed the raids quickly became more daring and bold, eventually they even expanded to the Ottoman camp.

    The heated rivalry between Botsaris and Tzavelas spurred their men to engage in increasingly grander attacks against the Ottoman forces. When Tzavelas and his Souliotes captured four wagons, Botsaris would capture eight. When Botsaris and his followers stole ten horses from the Ottoman’s stables, Tzavelas and his men made sure that they took twenty. The French diplomat and historian Francis Pouqueville in letters to his brother the Consul, Hughes Pouqueville, he described the petty rivalry between the two as a game played between children. The winner of this competition would ultimately be Tzavelas as his raid upon the Ottoman food stores proved to be decisive in the siege of Missolonghi. Under the cover of darkness, Tzavelas and 50 men made their way into the Ottoman camp. Stealing what they could before destroying the rest, he had denied the Ottomans of their primary store of food.

    For Mustafa Pasha, he had had enough. His efforts to starve the Greeks into submission had backfired tremendously as his force had itself been worn down by the constant raids on his own supply lines, and suffered from rising casualties. Recognizing that he would be unable to maintain the siege across the entire lagoon with his diminished numbers, Mustafa Pasha was ultimately forced to lift the siege and withdraw on the 13th of November.[4] For the second time in a year, the Greeks had won a great victory at Missolonghi cementing their hold on the region and furthering Sultan Mahmud’s II rage towards the city. The “Miracle of Anatoliko” as it was later called, established Missolonghi as a sacred city in the minds of the Greeks. It was a city blessed by God, a city that no enemy would ever overcome, a city that would stand forever. With the Ottomans in retreat once more, the Greeks began preparations for an offensive of their own, one that if successful would finally drive the Ottomans from the Gulf of Corinth.

    Next Time: The Baron Byron


    [1] Anatoliko, or Aitoliko, is a small town located on an island seperating the Missolonghi lagoon in the south from the Aitoliko lagoon in the north.

    [2] Eptanesians were Greeks from the Ionian islands.

    [3] The Tzavelas Clan had urged surrender during the Souliot Wars which earned them the ire of Markos Botsaris and his family who advocated for continued resistance against the Ottomans an Ali Pasha. While this rivalry waned over the years, Kitsos and Markos remained bitter rivals during the first two years of the war.

    [4] Mustafa Pasha Bushatli’s 1823 campaign in OTL was rife with problems as well stemming from the continual infiltration of his camp by the Souliotes. Both at Karpenisi and again at Missolonghi, the Souliotes wreaked havoc on his supply lines ultimately forcing his withdraw. With Markos Botsaris surviving from his wounds at Karpenisi in TTL I don’t see why this wouldn’t continue to be the case here as well, in fact it would probably be a lot worse for the Ottomans than OTL.
     
    Part 11: The Baron Byron
  • Part 11: The Baron Byron



    Lord George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, British Poet, and Philhellene

    In many ways, 1823 ended the way it began, with the Ottomans withdrawing into Winter quarters after a failed assault on Missolonghi. In the East, the Ottomans had done little beyond the regular border raid into Boeotia, and at sea, the Ottoman fleet had been sent out under its third Kapudan Pasha in the past year, Khosref Pasha. Khosref Pasha, despite being a decadent old man more suited for the pleasures of retirement than the rigors of war, still managed to take the lessons of the last year to heart, trading the heavy Ships of the Line for more agile frigates, corvettes, and brigs widely used by the Greeks. Traveling to Evvia (Euboea), Khosref reinforced the Ottoman garrison of Karistos before making a supply run around the Morea. On his return to Constantinople in October his fleet was ambushed by the Greeks off the coast of Tenedos resulting in the capture of two corvettes and four brigs. While certainly embarrassing, this battle was not the worst mishap for the Ottoman Navy that year. No, that distinct dishonor fell to a particular naval engagement off the coast of Missolonghi that did not take place.


    On the 29th of December, two ships flying the flag of the Ionian Islands departed from the port of Metaxa on the island of Cephalonia. The ships, a bombard and a mistico, were traveling for the city of Missolonghi carrying a cache of rifles, several horses, a few hunting dogs, and 25 passengers, with the most prominent being a British Peer intent on joining the fight in Greece. Immediately their crossing was beset by problems, the bombard being larger was quickly outpaced by the sleeker mistico, and by nightfall they had become completely seperated. There most trying episode came on the first night as the mistico soon ran afoul of a patrolling Ottoman Corvette. Panic gripped the passengers and crew as they quickly moved to destroy any incriminating evidence that might contradict their cover story that they were simply headed towards Kalamos for a hunting expedition. The lanterns were doused, the dogs were muzzled and the passengers hid themselves. When no response came from the boat, the Ottoman vessel began to pull alongside. Were it not for the sudden emergence of three Greek ships from the darkness causing the Ottoman vessel to flee, the ship would have likely been detained at Patras for days at the very least if not indefinitely. With the Ottoman ship in retreat, the Greeks moved alongside the small mistico, offering the ship safe passage to Missolonghi. Arriving on the 1st of January in the early morning, Lord Byron stepped ashore in Greece.[1]

    Lord Byron, was one of thousands of Philhellenes from across Europe and the Americas who made their way to the Balkans to aid the Greeks over the course of the war. Many were soldier like Sir Richard Church, Charles Nicolas Fabvier, and Karl von Norman-Ehrenels who joined the Greeks as commanders on the field of battle. Others were diplomats like Viscount Stratford Canning and his cousin, the statesman George Canning who aided the Greeks from abroad with their diplomacy and politicking. Then there were artists like the painters Louis Dupre and Peter von Hess whose works of art galvanized the masses. Many chose to form groups with the express purpose of raising funds for the Greek state, the largest and most influential being the London Greek Committee of which Lord Byron was a prominent member.

    George Gordon Byron was the son of Captain John “Mad Jack” Byron of the Coldstream Guard and his wife, Lady Catherine Gordon of Gight. George, more commonly known as Lord Byron was the 6th Baron Byron of his family, a family with a long pedigree of accomplished scholars, soldiers, sailors, and poets. Despite being born into nobility, his childhood was hardly whimsical or luxurious. His father was an infamous debtor, one who squandered his wife’s fortune meeting his lavish expenses. Captain Byron was for all intents and purposes a bastard and a vagabond, who violently beat his first wife to the brink of death on many occasions and married his second wife, Catherine, solely for her extensive wealth. His excessive gambling drove Byron’s mother to depression and heavy bouts of drinking over her husband’s treatment of her and their son. It is fortunate for all involved that “Mad Jack” died in 1791 while overseas in Valenciennes, France.


    Captain Jack Byron (Left) and Lady Catherine Gordon of Gight (Right)​

    Lord Byron’s troubles did not end there, however. He would prove himself to be quite unskilled as a scholar in his early years and he lacked the physical prowess of a military man due to a sickly constitution and a clubbed right foot. Due to his condition, he was regularly wracked with depression and prone to fits of anger. His only remarkable qualities seem to have been found in his mastery of the arts, specifically poetry. Byron had a way with words that made young maidens swoon, and grown men cry. His poetry tended to be the topic of conversation from the proper folk of British high society to the common man on the streets. To be referenced within any of his works was often considered a badge of honor whether it be for good or for ill.

    Many of Byron’s poems were thinly veiled soliloquys of his own illustrious love life. Throughout his years, Lord Byron would have no less than six lovers and according to rumors he engaged in many more unrecorded affairs, with the most scandalous allegedly being an affair between Byron and his half-sister Augusta Leigh. His married life was not so successful, with two attempts ending in divorce. Byron has also had at least five confirmed children, both legitimate and out of wedlock. Byron was an eccentric fellow who on occasion dabbled in homosexual activities with his companions. Despite his many affairs, and numerous scandals in the name of romance, by far the greatest love of his life, however, were the lands of Italy and Greece. Like many he found these ancient lands to be intoxicating and romantic, filled with ideas of art, liberalism, philosophy, and romance. It was during his time on tour in Genoa, that war broke out in Greece and while he lacked in military experience or feats of strength he nevertheless found the conflict to be an exciting chance at adventure, carried out in pursuit of a noble cause. With all the gusto and extravagance of a nobleman and a poet, Byron left Italy to aid the Greeks in their effort.

    Traveling first to the Ionian Island of Cephalonia where he would stay for nearly four months, Byron soon became inundated with letters from the many chief actors across Greece. Petros Mavromichalis invited him to Nafplion, Georgios Kountarious to Hydra, Odysseus Androutsos to Athens, and Alexandros Mavrokordatos to Missolonghi. Each called on Byron to join them and lend them his aid; though in truth each were thinly veiled ploys to gain access to his money and resources for their own personal ventures.[2] Despite the tenacity and vigor of these competitors it was his correspondence with the Souliot Markos Botsaris which finally drew Byron to Missolonghi, where he arrived on the 1st of January 1824. Barely halfway off the boat, Byron was immediately put to work. At the personal behest of Alexandros Mavrokordatos and Markos Botsaris, Byron was appointed to work on their latest endeavor, an assault on the strategically important town of Nafpaktos.


    Byron arrives in Missolonghi

    Nafpaktos, or Lepanto as the Venetians once called it, was founded along the northern littoral of the Gulf of Corinth 25 miles to the east of Missolonghi. Nafpaktos was a small town, with no more than 6,000 people most of whom fled at the onset of the war. Surrounded by impressive ramparts of Venetian design, Nafpaktos possessed one of finest natural harbors in all of Greece and its situation near the Gulf of Corinth made it a perfect refuge for Ottoman ships in the region. But it was Nafpaktos castle which was truly impressive, with its stout walls and imposing citadel it was a foreboding sight overlooking the harbor from its hill and as one of the largest fortifications in all of Greece, it made for an enticing target.

    With Nafpaktos under their control, the Greeks believed they would roll up the remaining Ottoman possessions in the Gulf. 6 Miles to the West was the Castle of the Roumeli in Antirrio, and directly across the water was its counterpart, the Castle of the Morea and the small fishing hovel of Rio. To the West of Rio was the city of Patras and its mighty castle, making them the greatest remaining Ottoman possessions in the Morea. With Nafpaktos liberated, the castles of the Roumeli and the Morea, along with the city and citadel of Patras would be rendered indefensible forcing the Ottomans to abandon their remaining holdings on the Gulf, or risk the loss of several thousand soldiers and civilians.[3]

    The outcome of the expedition was predicated upon the authenticity of recent reports which provided the Greeks with a decided advantage, but also a strict deadline. Word had emerged from within Nafpaktos that the Albanian garrison was on the verge of revolt. Having gone without proper pay for 18 months, and forced to man the castle well beyond their contracted terms of service, unrest had become understandably high among the Albanian mercenaries, and while it was not spoken aloud, in private they allegedly made threats announcing they would surrender the fortress to the Greeks if efforts were not made by the Ottomans to pay them their arrears. This news combined with the importance of Nafpaktos to the Greeks, hastened their preparations to take the city. Byron’s arrival only furthered their plans much to his own dismay.

    The reasoning behind Byron’s appointment was soon made abundantly clear, he was to lead a truly diverse force of klephts and Souliotes, Philhellenes, and common men, gathered from all across Greece. Under normal circumstances Markos Botsaris would lead the expedition himself to keep the men in check, however, his injuries from the year before continued to plague him, leaving Botsaris bedridden for a time. As such it was believed that Byron as a well-respected foreigner would be the most capable of managing the heated rivalries and intricate feuds between the diverse assembly of men who had gathered for this endeavor. His inexperience in military matters wasn’t so much an issue as he would be more of an overt figurehead for the operation, rather than a real soldier fighting in the trenches.

    500 Souliotes were to form the core of Byron’s force, with his Italian companion Pietro Gamba being given the task of leading them. However, they immediately began causing trouble for Byron. They demanded payment in advance of their past and future services, they wanted security and safe passage to the Morea for their families, and they generally frustrated his efforts to turn them into a disciplined fighting force. When Markos Botsaris learned of the shameful behavior of his kinsmen, he rose from his sickbed and rode from his residence to Missolonghi and personally chastised the men responsible for giving their people a bad name. After this incident, the Souliotes generally shaped up and quieted down, even if they were still a completely rowdy and undisciplined bunch.[4]

    Byron had also been granted 250 men by Demetrios Ypsilantis and the Greek Government, sent to aid the campaign and Mavrokordatos allowed Bryon permission to draw upon 1,200 men from the Missolonghi garrison as well. The final members of his force were the Philhellenes of the “Byron’s Brigade”, an informal military unit of 150 philhellenes paid for by Lord Byron himself that had assembled in Missolonghi in the weeks preceding and following his landing in Greece. Efforts were made by Byron and the Philhellenes to secure the arrival of a corps of artillery under the command of his friend and fellow Philhellene Thomas Gordon. However, delays and a change in command from Gordon to his subordinate William Parry caused some concern.[5] Convinced that these guns would be of no use of use against Nafpaktos’ walls, Botsaris pleaded with Byron to delay no longer and move against the city with all haste. Having come to trust the Souliot’s judgement, Byron reluctantly agreed to the proposal and departed Missolonghi for Nafpaktos on the 20th of January.



    Nafpaktos and Nafpaktos Castle

    Arriving outside Nafpaktos on the 22nd of January, Byron immediately opened negotiations with the defenders of the city as he had been instructed to do. As he was a foreigner, it was believed that Byron would the best candidate to gain the garrison’s surrender and see to their safety. This plan was thrown into disorder by the presence of the local Pashalik, Yusuf Pasha. The Ottoman had originally called the Albanian officers at Nafpaktos to Patras where they would ‘receive their long overdue reward’, but the movement of the Greeks against Nafpaktos and the perfidious nature of the Albanians prevented them from making the journey. Instead, Yusuf Pasha was himself, forced to travel north to meet with them at Nafpaktos arriving only moments after Byron and the Greeks.

    Racing to cut off any talk of surrender, Yusuf Pasha immediately rejected Lord Byron’s terms, insisting upon the ability of his men to withstand a siege until reinforcements could arrive later in the spring. His decision made, the Turk turned his back on Byron and promptly locked himself away in the fortress overlooking the town. The Albanian captains, however, were more receptive to Byron’s offers of coin and a safe route home, and remained behind for several moments before returning to their walls as well. With nothing else to do but wait, Byron and the Greeks established a camp outside the walls of Nafpaktos while they awaited their response. Their answer came only a few moments later that night.

    As night began to fall, shouting and screams, quickly followed by gunshots began filling the air, disrupting the calm winter night. Soon after, smoke began rising from Nafpaktos castle, and then flames. The Greeks, dumbfounded by the sight before them, initially did not know how to respond as they looked on in stunned disbelief. Their decision was soon made for them when the gates to the fortress were suddenly flung open in all the commotion.

    In was be the one of the most bizarre episodes of the war, many of the Albanians inside the castle had turned against their Ottoman allies and began firing upon them. The Souliotes taking advantage of the situation, bravely rushed through the gates of the castle hacking their way through all who opposed them. They were soon followed by the rest of the Greeks who charged in as well. Together the Greeks and Albanians subdued the few Ottomans who had made the trip to Nafpaktos with Yusuf Pasha, and within mere moments, the castle had fallen.

    Recognizing the impending defeat, Yusuf Pasha abandoned the castle with members of his guard and fled to awaiting transports in the town’s harbor that would return him to Patras. Under a constant rain of fire from the rampaging Albanians, the Ottomans barely escaped Nafpaktos with their lives, but in the process left behind several chests of Ottoman Piastres intended for the malcontent garrison. The Albanians for their part were spared, and per the terms of their surrender they were provided with enough coin to fulfill their needs before being allowed to leave in peace; the remaining Ottomans were not so lucky. Byron for his part managed to save their lives, but that was all he managed to achieve. They were quickly “liberated” of their weapons and their riches and held in the prison cells of the city before being shipped off aboard a neutral ship headed to Asia Minor.

    In the following days, it would later be confirmed that the Ottoman Commander, Yusuf Pasha had discovered the correspondence between the Albanian Officers and the Greeks outside his walls. In his haste to punish the traitorous officers, he promptly executed the bunch without so much as a mock trial as if to display his authority and his justice. The move backfired spectacularly as the sudden arrival of the Greeks outside their walls, the continued lack of pay, and the seemingly unprovoked murder of their leaders prompted the remaining Albanians to turn against the Ottomans. Before Yusuf Pasha could allay their outrage with the riches and rewards he brought with him, the gates had been opened and the Greeks began flooding into the castle, forcing his retreat.

    With Nafpaktos secured, the entire northern shore of the Gulf of Corinth, except for the village of Antirrio and the castle of Roumeli, were now in Greek hands. Finding the drier environment more to his liking than the mosquito infested lagoons near Missolonghi, Byron settled into a small manor overlooking the town. Despite liberating Nafpaktos, no serious effort was made to take the remaining Ottoman positions in the area due to a myriad of reasons ranging from politics to changing circumstances and by the middle of summer the plan was well and truly dead. Byron’s glorious military campaign in Greece had come to an end, less than a month after it began.

    Next Time: The Baron and the Beggars


    [1] Byron’s OTL journey to Missolonghi was much more adventurous in OTL. After leaving Cephalonia, the two ships became separated due to the slower speed of the bombard. The mistico that Byron was on was indeed confronted by an Ottoman ship during their first night at sea, but the Ottomans suspecting the boat to be a fireship left it alone. Unfortunately, they were forced to land further inland near Cape Skrophes due to more Ottoman ships in the area. The bombard that Byron’s companion Pietro Gamba had taken had its own adventure encountering a different Ottoman ship near Missolonghi. By chance the two captains knew each other as the Greek had saved the Turkish captain from a shipwreck in the Black Sea several years before the war. Unfortunately, Gamba’s ship was taken to Patras but the Turkish captain vouched for the honesty of the Greek captain and they were released. I owe Byron’s quieter crossing to the lack of a civil war taking place among the Greeks right now so more of their meager resources can be directed towards patrolling the seas near Missolonghi.

    [2] Byron was essentially a millionaire by today’s standards, with a reputation for philanthropy. At one point in OTL he had a sum amounting to 20,000 Pounds Sterling which he fully intended to use on the Greek cause. With inflation, that amount is roughly equivalent to 1.5 million Pounds, which while not enormous by a government’s perspective, it certainly made him an incredibly valued commodity in the deeply impoverished state of Greece.

    [3] While this is probably true in theory, it is really nonsense on Mavrokordatos’ part as it relies upon everything going according to plan and wouldn’t you know it nothing went to plan in OTL and a lot of things won’t go according to plan here either. Even if the Greeks had captured Nafpaktos as intended in OTL they would never have been able to force the Ottomans out of the Gulf in the manner they envisioned. The Sublime Porte recognized the importance in holding Patras and the castles at Rio and Antirrio and would certainly have committed the resources to holding them if they believed they were seriously threatened which they weren’t in OTL. Barring complete naval dominance, which the Greeks no longer possessed post 1822, they couldn’t feasibly take any of these sights without subterfuge.

    [4] The Souliotes were an absolute menace during Byron’s time in Missolonghi. They constantly demanded back pay, bribes, and the transportation of their families to the Morea in return for their service. They were generally disruptive, constantly getting into fights and even killing an Italian Philhellene when he wouldn’t let him see their cannons. It got so bad that Byron was forced to pay them to leave Missolonghi and not return. Botsaris, being the respected figure that he is, could maintain a better degree of order and discipline that the OTL Souliotes lacked.

    [5] While Byron and Parry quickly became fast friends and drinking partners, the shipment of artillery turned into a total fiasco in OTL. Parry had inexplicably forgotten to bring any coal with him which made the furnaces and artillery workshop he brought with him unusable. While they waited for coal to be brought to Missolonghi for the workshop, Yusuf Pasha discovered the plot at Nafpaktos and had the offending Albanians executed and the remainder paid ending the hopes of taking the castle by subterfuge. Additionally, a Souliot killed a member of Parry’s party, the Swedish Philhellene Adolph von Sass, when Sass refused to allow the Souliot near the cannons. When the Souliot was arrested his compatriots threatened to burn the city to the ground if their kinsman wasn’t released immediately. The killer was released, but the damage was done as many of Sass’s colleagues abandoned Greece altogether. Even if the cannons had been ready and able in February 1824, they would have had little to no effect on the thick walls of Nafpaktos’ castle, a point emphasized by the Souliotes repeatedly. Botsaris being the man that he was would strongly advocate for a lighting raid against Nafpaktos while it was still prone to treachery and knowing Byron I believe he would have sided with Botsaris on this point.
     
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    Part 12: The Baron and the Beggars
  • Part 12: The Baron and the Beggars


    Byron at Salona

    In the months that followed his arrival in Greece, Lord Byron became increasingly distressed by the growing factiousness of the Greeks. Though the war against the Turk had done much to suppress the old rivalries and tensions between the various clans and communities in Greece, by the Spring and Summer months of 1824 their united front had begun to ware off, much to Byron’s dismay. Unable to bridge the divide between the Greeks, Byron busied himself by riding through the countryside alongside his faithful, albeit entirely incompetent companion Pietro Gamba. His most frequent destination was Missolonghi where he had developed a budding friendship with Alexandros Mavrokordatos due to their shared interest in the arts and philosophy.

    Mavrokordatos had been recalled to the area following a raid on Aitoliko by the Turks in late December 1823 and his arrival in Missolonghi proved to be a strong factor in Byron’s decision to land in Western Greece as opposed to the Morea. Lord Byron thought so highly of Mavrokordatos that he considered him to be the Greek George Washington. Their conversations often drifted from politics and the war to more pleasant topics like art, drama, poetry, and philosophy. While, he had come to respect Mavrokordatos as a friend, it was the Souliot Markos Botsaris who truly won Byron over by sheer strength of personality. Botsaris was a larger than life figure. Renowned for his integrity, a trait uncommon amongst the other Greek captains of the war, and his unflinching dedication to the cause was unmatched, Markos Botsaris was a truly noble and heroic figure amongst the Greeks. He was charming, bold, strong, and incredibly savvy, and while the legends swirling about him certainly overshadowed the real man, Lord Byron found the Souliot’s honesty refreshing. It had been their correspondence that led Byron to Greece in the first place.[1]

    Despite his decision to land in Missolonghi and his desire to work alongside Mavrokordatos and Botsaris, other magnates across Greece continued their attempts to pry the Briton to their sides, with the most persistent being Odysseus Androutsos. Androutsos had been one of the chief architects of the liberation of Athens in 1822 and as a result of his success he had become a powerful actor in Central Greece. Androutsos was a talented leader, a skilled fighter, and a brilliant orator, yet his greatest flaw was his overly grand ambition. Coming to view Athens as his own personal fief, Androutsos began efforts to cement his rule over the city, an endeavor that brought him into conflict with the National Government in Nafplion. Despite his own talent and the support of the local Athenians, Androutsos recognized the necessity of strong allies if he were to effectively challenge the Greek Government. Having already seduced Byron’s longtime friend and fellow adventurer, Edward John Trelawny, and their colleague Colonel Leicester Stanhope to his side, Androutsos, believed he could similarly win over Byron and in doing so, lay claim to Byron’s vast resources.


    Odysseus Androutsos (Left) and Edward Trelawny (Right)​

    The real boon that Lord Byron provided to the Greek cause wasn’t his military skill or his acumen with words, but rather, it was his enormous personal wealth and his personal philanthropy that made him an attractive sponsor of the Greeks. The Greek countryside under the Ottomans had been deprived of wealth for generations while the islands and cities flourished. The farmers and peasants of Greece became destitute and deeply impoverished leading many to seek a life as a klepht to provide for their families. In Ottoman Greece, it cost less to house a family for an entire year than it would to feed them for a month. Labor and housing were cheap but resources and commodities were not. With over half of the arable land in Greece under the control of the church, state, and local magnates, many people within Ottoman Greece were left to starve, or subsist upon a pittance of poor land. Those Greeks who found themselves in Constantinople or on one of the many islands tended to do better than their Morean and Rumelian countrymen, building lavish houses of stone and marble, but even their wealth paled in comparison to the opulence and grandeur of those in the West. The Greek merchants of Chios, Hydra, Psara, Samos, and Spetses had themselves only come into their wealth recently, smuggling large quantities of grain to Napoleonic France from Egypt.

    The economic situation in Greece was made worse by the rampant inflation in the Ottoman Empire over the course of the 19th Century thus far. In 1815, the value of the Ottoman Piastres, the currency used throughout the Empire, had a value of 20 to 1 against the British Pound Sterling. By the time of Byron’s arrival in Greece in 1824, the Piastre had fallen as low as 50 to 1 against the Pound, a loss of over 50% of its value in less than 9 years. The war had done much to accelerate this process as the Porte, desperately short on available manpower in the first two years of the conflict, resorted to minting more coins to pay the exorbitant costs of Arab and Albanian mercenaries. As the war progressed, foreign currencies became more prominent across Free Greece to make up the difference of the devaluing Piastre, with the Pound being the most popular, but also the rarest.

    The Greek’s themselves had little means of raising the funds necessary to finance a war beyond looting, as the collection of tariffs and taxes was nigh impossible in the war-torn country. What plunder the Greeks could gather from their victories was often divided amongst the soldiers and their leaders as recompense for their services, as the government often lacked the funds to pay them, with only a small faction being sent to the state.[2] The only real source of dependable income the Greek Government could rely upon were the donations, grants, and loans sent from their supporters abroad. Even these would not be enough as the Greek Government had spent a sum in excess of £600,000 in 1823 alone, much of which was spent paying the excessive prices needed to keep the Greek navy as Sea.

    Lord Byron was one of these private donors as he spent lavish sums of coin on the arming and training of Greek partisans amounting to a small fortune. His first act in the war was to “loan” £4,000 to the Greek Government for the commissioning of 5 ships from Hydra and Spetses that would patrol the waters near Missolonghi over the Winter and Spring months of 1824, the very same ships that had aided in his arrival in Greece. Within weeks of his arrival in Missolonghi, Byron would give an additional £2,000 to the Souliotes in Cephalonia and another £2,000 in Missolonghi, although this amount was reduced to £1,500 thanks to the efforts of Markos Botsaris. Another £1200 were spent by Byron to fund the deployment of the Government troops to Missolonghi and the organization of the ‘Byron Brigade, a force of fellow Philhellenes and Diaspora Greeks amounting to roughly 300 men at its height in December 1824. Byron also made a pair of loans, to the sum of £1,500 first to Mavrokordatos and then to William Parry upon his arrival in Greece in early February. He even went so far as to sell his own home in Scotland, Rochdale Manor, raising a further £11,000 which he had every intention of spending on the Greek cause.

    Byron had another, more important role in Greece aside from volunteer and philanthropist, and that was of a custodian and arbitrator of the London Greek Committee’s loan to Greece in 1824. On the 22nd of February 1823 Andreas Louriotis arrived in London to begin efforts to contract a loan with the city. London was the economic capital of the world in the early 19th century and as such it was the only place where the Greeks could amass the amount of funds they so desperately needed. Through the aid of the Philhellene Edward Blaquiere, Louriotis was introduced to a group of two dozen prominent businessmen, politicians and nobles, including Byron’s closes friend John Cam Hobhouse and Thomas Gordon. These men would in the following days form the London Greek Committee, an organization bent on aiding the independence of Greece from the Ottoman Empire. To that end, the Committee tasked Blaquiere with traveling to Greece where he would report on the state of the war in Greece and receive the permission of the Greek Government to begin contracting a loan with one of their agents. Returning to London in September, Blaquiere gave an incredibly overestimated account of the economic state of Greece and their viability in the war. When the Greek agents Andreas Louriotis and Ioannis Orlandos arrived in London on the 21st of January 1824, they immediately set to work hammering out the fine details of the loan contract.


    The Crown and Anchor Tavern (Right), “Headquarters” of the London Greek Committee

    After nearly a month, they reached an agreement. Greek bonds would be raised for the nominal value of £800,000, at a price of £100 per bond, that would be paid back at a 5% interest rate by the Greek Government. However, trouble soon arose due to the chicanery of the Committee, as the bonds were sold at 59% of the agreed value, bringing the actual amount of money that would be loaned to Greece closer to £472,000. However, this amount was buoyed somewhat by news of Lord Byron’s successes in Greece, boosting the bonds up to 67%, or roughly £536,000.[3] This sum was then reduced further by the retention of two years’ interest by the London Greek Committee, the repayment of Lord Byron’s earlier loans, and the payment of commissions to the negotiators, giving the loan a final total of £420,000, with an actual interest rate of 7.5%.

    One last caveat of the deal was that the loan would be dispensed at the discretion of two representatives from the London Greek Committee. This term was to ensure the funds were used towards an appropriate purpose, rather than being spent at the discretion of an unscrupulous klepht. Lord Byron and Colonel Leicester Stanhope, being the two most prominent members of the Committee in Greece at the time were chosen for this task. However, at the complaint of the Greek deputies, two representatives were also added for the Greeks to add parity to the British. Lazaros Kountarious and Andreas Londos were selected for the task owing to their influence and support within the Greek Government.[4] The optimistic reports from Stanhope and Byron helped the Committee reach the total sum of the loan and by the end of April 1824 the first installment arrived in Greece.

    Access to the loan was Androutsos’ true motivation for courting Byron. Londos and Kountarious were too prideful to side with Androutsos and while Stanhope was already smitten with him, his tenure in Greece was scheduled to end in May as per his arrangement with the Royal Army, leaving Lord Byron as the only remaining custodian of the loan he could appeal towards. Stanhope believing Androutsos to be the worthiest recipient of the loan, pushed his benefactor to organize the Congress of Salona with his ally the Phanariot Theodoros Negris. The Congress was ostentatiously an attempt to resolve the many issues between the disparate groups within Greece, but in truth it was an opportunity for Androutsos to draw Byron to his side. Much to the annoyance of Mavrokordatos and Botsaris, Byron accepted the invitation when Stanhope and Trelawny personally endorsed the event as an initiative capable of promoting a united front for the Greeks. Knowing full well that Androutsos would attempt to poach Byron from them, Mavrokordatos departed for Salona as well under the guise of protecting the national interests of the Greek Government.

    After many delays, mostly at the behest of Mavrokordatos, including a raid on Missolonghi by the Epirote Georgios Karaiskakis in early April, and several weeks of incredibly poor weather, the Congress of Salona officially opened on the 6th of May. To say that the Congress achieved anything of note would be incredibly kind to it. The event opened politely enough, with the exchange of pleasantries and the recital of the grievances which had spurned them all to rebellion against the Sublime Porte in the first place. Soon, however, it degenerated into a shouting match between rival parties. Byron ever the wordsmith, waded into the crowd to intervene in the heated debate, but was knocked to the ground in the process while making his way to stage. The stress of the situation, combined with an especially difficult journey for Byron proved detrimental to his health forcing him to be rushed from the Congress Chamber. Unfortunately for Byron, his “illness” kept him bedridden for the much of the event and due to the posturing of companion Mavrokordatos, Byron was cloistered away from any visitors.

    By the time Byron recovered from his illness, many of the delegates had returned to their strongholds and Colonel Stanhope had departed for Britain. The only verifiable product of the Congress had been a relatively meaningless declaration of support for the revolution and the government in Nafplion by the events attendees.[5] Androutsos much to his dismay was denied his chance at winning Byron over with his legendary charisma when the Briton returned to Missolonghi with barely a word exchanged between them. Mavrokordatos had seen to it that the brigand would not receive another chance.

    The entire escapade taught Byron, that he was not the man to bring the Greeks together, that man required the strength of will and the strength of body to drag the warring Greeks together. This point that was reaffirmed several weeks later when he traveled to the city of Nafplion in early July to meet with the Central Government. The conference between them was an awkward affair for Byron as he would later write it in his memoirs. It was a conversation filled with vague promises of support for the Roumeli and false shows of solidarity, outright lies and half-truths. Byron blamed their behavior on the looming crisis in Psara and the recent fall of Kasos. By the end of the meeting, Byron had to retire to the manor of the local bishop to recover from the stress of the ordeal. For Byron, a man plagued with relatively poor health for much his life, the adventure in Greece had taken its toll.

    When the last installment of the loan arrived in early May 1825, Byron began preparing to return to Britain, a place he had not seen in years. While he would continue to support the Greeks in their bid for independence he had been thoroughly exhausted by their petty bickering and infighting, infighting had only gotten worse in the short time he had been there, though in no part due to a lack of effort on Byron’s part. The weather had also disappointed him as it rained more often than not, denying him the opportunities to explore the ruins of the ancient world and leaving him feverish on many occasions. Before leaving Greece to lobby for further aid, he bestowed the remainder of his available funds, a sum amounting to slightly over 3,000 Pounds, to his allies Botsaris and Mavrokordatos, two men he had come to trust as noble patriots, god fearing men, and good friends. With his business in Greece settled for now, Lord Byron left Greece on the 2nd of June, for home.[6]

    Byron’s impact on the Greek War of independence is hard to discern. He failed in his efforts to unite the Greeks, and his military endeavors ended before they had a chance to begin. It was only in his financiering and philanthropy that Byron made a tangible effect while in Greece during the war. His stewardship of the London Greek Committee Loan proved to be adequate, if not effective. While he was by no means a man of a military background, he had listened to Stanhope’s suggestions closely while he was in Greece, and tried to the best of his ability to remain to those words after the Colonel’s departure. That being said, the use of the loan was generally left to the Greeks to decide, with much being spent towards it arrears and funding its naval expeditions.

    If one had to decide upon the most lasting effect of Byron’s time in Greece it would have to be his extensive acts of charity. For a man with a strained relationship with his own children, Byron cared for orphaned boys and girls, both Christian and Muslim alike, as a doting father would their own child. At first, he lavished them with fine clothing and provided for them an excellent education, and for a brief moment, Byron even considered adopting a Turkish girl and a Greek boy as his own children. As time passed, Byron gradually expanded his efforts to aid all the children of Greece. Byron would be personally accredited with founding three separate orphanages across Free Greece during the war and sponsoring the construction of fifteen more in the years that followed, of these four were unfortunately destroyed in the fires of war, and only one remains to this day in any recognizable state. His erstwhile colleague Colonel Stanhope also aided Byron in the building of twelve schools across Greece both during and after the war.


    Byron and Lucas[7]

    Despite Byron’s best efforts to aid the Greeks, his work to bring them together only resulted in a brief pause in the inevitable march towards schism between the Greeks. There existed too much bad blood, too many bruised egos, and too much hatred, to simply be wiped away by the common cause of independence and the honest, but naïve efforts of Byron. By the end of 1824, civil war seemed imminent in Greece.

    Next Time: The Greek Schism


    [1] Byron had been in communication with Markos Botsaris. In fact, in OTL the last letter that Botsaris wrote was to Byron, imploring him to come to Greece in person to aid them in their cause. While their backgrounds were different I believe that Byron and Botsaris would have gotten along very well.

    [2] This system of looting had been installed by Theodoros Kolokotronis in the opening months of the war. One third of the spoils were to go to the officers, one third would go to the soldiers, and the remaining third would go to the government, but due to corruption, negligence, and a general distrust of the government, they usually received far less than their established amount.

    [3] To say that the 2 loans in OTL were a complete debacle is being too generous, they were scams. The first loan was offered at £800,000 but the death of Lord Byron caused the bonds to tank in price from 63% in February, to 43% by the end of April. After all the fees and commissions were taken out, Greece only received about £350,000. Despite this the Greek Government was still expected to pay interest on the original 800,000 despite only receiving a small fraction of it, resulting in an actual interest rate of 8.5% as opposed to the official 5% they agreed to. The second loan in 1825/1826 was just as egregious, this time being for 2 million pounds, with only 1.1 million reaching Greece. Most of the second loan was then wasted on 6 steamships that didn’t work and two American frigates which were outrageous over priced at £185,000 apiece, although they were very nice ships. Because of the terrible way in which these loans were handled, Greece was laden with debt that it struggled to pay off for years, only having it renegotiated to a lower amount rate near the end of the 19th century.

    [4] Byron and Stanhope were selected in OTL, and owing to their nature and their lives up to the POD, I don’t believe anything would have changed their reasoning for traveling to Greece. As they were the highest profile Committee members in Greece at the time of the agreement, they were chosen to be its commissioners as in OTL. Lazaros Kountarious was chosen for his close relations to Ioannis Orlandos, his brother in law, and his brother Georgios Kountarious was a powerful member of the Greek Government. Selecting the 4th Commissioner was a bit tricky as I don’t believe it was filled in OTL so I don’t have a historical analogue to compare to. My reasoning for choosing Andreas Londos stems entirely from the fact that he is a neutral leaning Morean with a close friendship to Andreas Zaimis, who sits on the Executive. If anyone else would be a better candidate please let me know and I will consider changing it.

    [5] The Congress of Salona, modern day Amphissa, was an entirely worthless venture in OTL. Androutsos had really intended to win Byron over at the event, but his untimely death prevented his plans from unfolding how he intended. Even if Byron had lived to attend the Congress, nothing significant would have likely come from it.

    [6] Byron’s cause of death in OTL is unknown, but it is believed to have been a brain hemorrhage followed by several days of inadequate and downright dangerous medical practices. It is likely the hemorrhage was induced by the stress related stroke he suffered in February and then reaggravated it during his fever in early April. He accredited the first seizure to his heavy drinking with Parry, his lack of exercise due to the rain, and the stressful interactions he had with the Souliotes while in Missolonghi. I would argue that a Botsaris that survives Karpenisi would significantly aid Byron during his time in Missolonghi preventing some of the conditions that resulted in his seizure and later death. Being away in Nafpaktos also helps in this regard as well as it keeps him away from Parry for some time and away from the swamps around Missolonghi. That all said, Byron’s health was never great to begin with, and the constant stress of working in Revolutionary Greece was not great on his health both OTL and TTL. While he will live longer than OTL, I cannot say at this moment how much longer, mostly because I haven’t decided yet, but this is not the last we will be seeing of Lord Byron.

    [7] In OTL, Lucas was a Greek boy whose parents had died during the war. Byron being the good person that he was took the boy in and cared for him, teaching him English, science, art, history, etc. When Byron died he left Lucas as the proprietor of his loans, loans which remained unfulfilled by the Greek government and Lucas unfortunately died in poverty several months later.
     
    Part 13: The Greek Schism
  • Part 13: The Greek Schism


    Psara

    The failures of the Congress of Salona were symptoms of a much greater problem that had been metastasizing in Greece over the past year. The Second National Assembly in 1823 had attempted to establish a balanced government with the Moreots and Islanders sharing control of the Executive and the Senate. In truth, this caused more problems than it solved. From a cursory glance, the first few weeks of the Petros Mavromichalis Executive appeared relatively quiet as matters dealing with the war occupied most of the governments time and resources. But within weeks of the Assembly’s end in early April, tempers began to flare between the supposedly united Greeks.

    The first real issue to emerge was the resignation of Ioannis Orlandos as President of the Senate in July 1823. Despite their own personal distrust of one another, the Morean Primates and the Military Captains aligned in their opposition to Orlandos. Believing him to be nothing more than a puppet of his brother in law, the leading Shipowner of Hydra, Georgios Kountouriotis, the Moreots effectively gridlocked the Senate between them, ultimately forcing his ouster.

    With the sudden vacancy in the Senate leadership, the Moreots rushed to put forward their own candidate, the Arcadian, Anagnostis Dheliyannis. Anagnostis was a member of the influential Dheliyannis family of Arcadia who were vocal supporters of the Mavromichalis Executive. His candidacy was troubled from the start as the Roumeliotes and Islanders under the angered Kountouriotis immediately joined together to oppose him. While the Moreots held the single largest caucus in the Senate with 30 Senators out of the total 70, they did not possess a majority within the legislature and required the support of some combination of the 9 Roumeliot Senators, the 28 Islander Senators, and 3 Phanariot Senators that comprised the other factions within the Legislative body. The situation was made worse by Mavromichalis’ endorsement of Dheliyannis, an act which was met with immediate denunciation by the Senate as an overreach of his authority into the purview of the Senate.

    Seeking to unravel the opposition aligned against him, Georgios Kountouriotis proposed Alexandros Mavrokordatos for the position, as he was a candidate acceptable to the wide spectrum of interests in the Senate. Surprisingly, Mavrokordatos achieved almost unanimous approval from the Moreots, Roumeliotes, and Islanders in the Senate. The Phanariot refused, however, on the basis that his duties as General Secretary required his full attention and he would require the Executive’s permission to resign for the Senate Presidency, permission which Petros Mavromichalis refused to give. After several days of heated debate, Mavromichalis was forced to acquiesce when several moderate Moreot Senators forced his hand by siding with the Roumeliotes and Islanders. With no other choice, Mavromichalis accepted the Senate’s decision and Mavrokordatos was appointed Senate President on the 2nd of July, ending the flashpoint.


    The Master of Hydra, Georgios Kountouriotis

    This respite was short lived as another dispute emerged between the factions in Greece over the price of salt. In October 1823, the Finance Minister Ioannis Peroukas, under the instruction of the Executive, imposed a government monopoly on salt, causing costs to skyrocket across Greece. The measure had been intended to raise money for the war effort, but like most taxes it unfairly burdened the common people who were desperately reliant upon salt. The Senate surprisingly took up the mantle of the common people, although in truth their opposition lay primarily with the notion that the Executive had not sought the Senate’s approval for the measure in the first place.

    Their reaction was limited as they required a two thirds majority to legally overturn the Executive’s decision and nearly 26 Senators were either away on leave or in favor of the measure leaving them with little recourse. Summarily, the Senate retorted with the same response arguing that the Executive could only implement such a proposal with a three fifths majority, but seeing as Ioannis Kolettis, Andreas Zaimis, and Panayiotis Botasis where either absent or opposed to the measure, it was invalid. The matter was eventually ended when Kolettis was recalled from Missolonghi by the Senate, where upon his return he immediately killed the measure along with Zaimis and Botasis.[1]


    Ioannis Kolettis (Left), Andreas Zaimis (Right)​

    Despite these humiliations, Petros Mavromichalis remained relatively popular among most parties in Greece, due in large part to the tremendous success on the warfront in 1823. The meager Ottoman garrison in the acropolis of Corinth, Akrocorinthos, had finally surrendered to the Greek army of Demetrios Ypsilantis on the 10th of September 1823, ending the 13-month siege and fully securing the Isthmus once more. This victory was soon followed only a few weeks later by the retreat of Mustafa Pasha from Missolonghi, ending the threat against Western Greece and the Morea. One last victory was the quick liberation of Nafpaktos through the means of Lord Byron bringing the northern shore of the Gulf firmly under Greek control. With these victories on the warfront, Petros Mavromichalis managed to limp his way across the finish line, winning the 1824 Executive Elections by a narrow margin.

    Another important victory for the Mavromichalis government was the acquisition of the loan from the London Philhellenic Committee, to the sum of 420,000 Pounds Sterling. This too brought its own slough of problems for the Greek Government as the influx of additional revenue sparked an intense debate over the dispensing of the funds. Arriving in 13 installments to be paid out every month from April 1824 until May 1825, the loan essentially doubled the Greek’s available budget, and as was the case when mixing politics with money, every group wanted their piece. The Military Captains wanted the funds to go towards paying their arrears, the Islanders wanted it for their ships, the Primates for their castles, and the Roumeliotes, well no one really cared much about what the Roumeliotes wanted with it.

    Control of the funds, however, lay in the hands of the Britons, Byron and Stanhope, the Hydriot Lazaros Kountarious, and the Moreot Andreas Londos. But with Stanhope’s departure in May, power shifted increasingly towards the Greeks as Byron generally acquiesced to Kountouriotis and Londos on the matter, only interjecting when it was absolutely necessary to prevent what he saw as burgeoning corruption and malpractice.[2] Lazaros by nature of his relation to his brother Georgios, sided with the Islanders and the Senate, and Londos, by nature of his close friendship with Andreas Zaimis, supported the Senate’s position as well, which under Mavrokordatos favored a naval policy. As such the bulk of the new revenue was to be dispensed towards the navy, much to the ire of the Moreots and Roumeliotes who desired it for other means. To express their disapproval, the Moreots filibustered the proceedings until they achieved their desired outcome, gridlocking the Greek government for over a month. While this debate raged on an Ottoman fleet arrived off the coast of Psara.

    Dread set in amongst the delegates in Nafplion as reports arrived from Psara, the Ottomans had landed on the island and instituted a blockade. The fleets stationed in Hydra and Spetses were immediately dispatched to break the blockade, but their efforts had little impact on the burgeoning siege. The Greeks only succeeded in opening a small hole in the blockade allowing some Psariot ships laden with women, children, and the town’s treasures to escape. When they attempted to return three days later the Ottoman fleet had returned in strength and forced the Greeks into a costly engagement. While the Greeks inflicted heavy losses on the Ottoman navy, they were forced to flee when reinforcements from Asia Minor arrived.


    The Flight from Psara

    The siege of Psara would last for barely half a month, beginning on the 22nd of June and ending on the 6th of July. Much of the island had been lost in the initial invasion, with the defenders fleeing to the old Byzantine fort, Palaiokastro, for refuge. After two weeks, the desperate struggle came to an end as the Ottomans finally forced their way into the fortress at which point the last remaining defenders detonated the ammunition depot inside the fort, killing themselves and the unfortunate Ottoman soldiers who had entered the compound first. Those Greeks that survived the explosion were subject to the worse depravities of man before being sent into slavery in Anatolia. Psara, which had been the home to 7,000 Greeks at the start of the war, had been razed to the ground in a matter of days.

    The Psariots who had managed to escape to the Morea would fare no better than their kin who were left at the mercy of the Turks. Those that made it to the mainland were met by a mob of klephts who immediately stripped the refugees of their valuables, by force if necessary. In one particularly dastardly incident a Moreot bludgeoned a Psariot to death over his wedding ring while his wife and child looked on in horror. When news of this incident reached Demetrios Ypsilantis, the normally calm and collected Phanariot fell into a rage. Racing down to the port with a company of soldiers, he had the offending men arrested on the spot. Some were released after returning their stolen wares, others received a lashing, but the worst culprits were executed for their crimes. Ypsilantis’ justice provided little recompense for the Psariots who had lost their possessions, their homes, and their families both to the Ottomans and their fellow Greeks.

    The loss of any island was a blow to the Greeks, but the loss of Psara was an especially bitter blow. The island had long provided the Greeks with an early warning on the movements of the Ottoman fleet, allowing them ample time to ready their opposition against it. With Psara gone, they were now blind to their enemies’ movements at sea putting them at a decided disadvantage. The military ramifications were bad enough but the political ramifications of losing Psara nearly threatened to destroy all which the Greeks had fought for. The Psariots bitterly blamed Mavromichalis and his followers in the Senate for the annihilation of their people, although in truth there was little he could have done to save it beyond what had already been committed. Despite repeated proclamations of his innocence, the Maniot had become a scapegoat for the ruined Psariots and their friends in the Senate sought to profit off Mavromichalis’ misfortune. By the month’s end, Georgios Kountouriotis and the Psariot Admiral Constantine Kanaris sponsored legislation in the Senate, calling for the removal of Mavromichalis from the Executive.


    Constantine Kanaris, Greek Admiral and Politician

    No one blamed the fall of Psara on Mavromichalis more than the famous Admiral Constantine Kanaris. Kanaris had fought nobly at Chios, Tenedos, and most recently Psara before its fall. He had made his home there, his family was there, and many of the people he was forced to leave behind on Psara were his kith and kin. Together with Kountarious and his supporters in the Islands Faction, Kanaris pointedly placed the blame for Psara’s fall at the feet of the Moreots and Maniots in general for their resistance in the Senate. By the end of July, even many of Petrobey’s staunchest supporters had been forced into submission by the impassioned Islanders and on the 3rd of August, Petros Mavromichalis was removed from the Executive and was in turn quickly replaced by Georgios Kountouriotis as President of the Executive.

    The move was immediately protested by Petrobey’s supporters as an illegal and unjust act, while his opponents extolled the complete legality of their actions. The most boisterous critic were Panos and Yenneos Kolokotronis, the sons of the martyred hero Theodoros Kolokotronis. The younger Kolokotroneoi had been strong supporters of the Maniot’s government and had closely aligned themselves with his father’s former ally Sotiris Charalamvis. Only hours after the ousting of Mavromichalis, Panos and several other young officers marched on the Senate building in Nafplion where they disrupted the proceedings to physically assault several members of the Senate while they were in session. Despite lasting for a few minutes, no one was seriously injured in the brawl. Regardless, the damage had been done.[3]

    In response to this violent outburst by one of his subordinates, the Senate voted to remove Sotiris Charalamvis from the Executive on the 6th of August. Panos for his part fled to the sanctity of his homeland in Messenia where he was later joined by his brother, Charalamvis, and their followers. Together, Charalamvis and Mavromichalis denounced the actions of the Senate as unjust and illegal and called upon their supporters to break with the Nafplion government. This was soon followed by the resignation of Andreas Zaimis from the Executive in protest, though he opted for neutrality as opposed to the burgeoning duality of the Greek Government. By September 1824, the Greek Government had formally split. Most of the military captains, Moreots, and Maniots had withdrawn from the unified National Government forming their own Opposition Government based in Tripolitsa, while the diminished Central Government remained in Nafplion. In the following weeks, several attempts were made to reconcile the two sides with the Philhellenes Lord Byron and Edward Trelawny, and the Phanariotes Demetrios Ypsilantis and Alexandros Mavrokordatos lending their weight behind these motions. These efforts at mediation lasted through the end of 1824 and into early 1825 only for them to end in failure over a personal slight by Kolettis towards Charalamvis causing the Moreot to viciously attack the Epirote before fleeing once more to his stronghold.

    The schism between the Greek factions had become a personal one as bruised egos and personal pride overwhelmed patriotism and pragmatism. Charalamvis, Mavromichalis, and the Kolokotroneoi boys had effectively become the focal point of the growing agitation towards the government while Kountouriotis and Kolettis were the purveyors of the state. By February, it was clear for all to see that this schism would inevitably lead to violence, but where diplomacy and politics failed, outside events soon conspired to bring the divided Greeks together once again. On the 24th of February 1825, an army of Egyptians, 10,000 strong landed at Methoni. The Scourge of Hellas had arrived.

    Next Time: O Aegyptus


    [1] Kolettis was an avid opponent of the Military Captains and Morean Primates in the Executive in OTL. He was a perfidious character that played his opponents against one another and did his utmost to benefit himself. Still he was a talented administrator and quartermaster for the Greeks serving on the Executive, and as Minister of War. Sadly, I couldn’t find any information or pictures on Panayiotis Botasis aside from the fact that he was an ally of Kountouriotis and as such would vote the way of the Senate. Andreas Zaimis was a strong supporter of the Senate as well and would probably vote against the Salt monopoly considering he was opposed to it in OTL as well.

    [2] As Byron was a strong supporter of Alexandros Mavrokordatos, and Mavrokordatos is President of the Senate, I think it is safe to say that Byron would dispense the funds however the Senate would like it to be dispense. Byron was very firm about his intentions to only work with representatives of the Greek Government and as such he would support the “elected government”.

    [3] A similar event like this took place in OTL when Panos attacked the Senators following the removal of Konstantinos Metaxas from the Executive in December 1823. This act sparked the First Civil War, which was more or less a posturing match between Theodoros and his supporters and the increasingly Islander dominated National Government.
     
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    Part 14: O Aegyptus
  • Part 14: O Aegyptus


    Muhammad Ali Sends Egypt to War

    In the wake of the Greek victory at Dervenakia, Sultan Mahmud II, despite his better judgement, called upon his strongest and most willful vassal Muhammad Ali of Egypt for aid.[1] Muhammad Ali had originally been sent to Egypt by Mahmud’s predecessor, Selim III, to restore the Sublime Porte’s authority in the region after Napoleon’s failed invasion in 1801. Instead, Muhammad Ali seized power for himself, establishing Egypt as his own private fiefdom, and over the years’ his influence and power had only grown further. By 1821, Muhammad Ali was the strongest magnate within the Ottoman Empire, and was independent from Constantinople in all but name. For Sultan Mahmud II, to call upon the self-proclaimed Khedive of Egypt went against everything he had done so far to restore the central authority of Empire. Yet the constant humiliations of his armies against the Greeks had ultimately forced his hand and by the Spring of 1824, the two had come to terms over the Egyptians intervention in the war.

    Muhammad Ali’s obedience, however, came with a steep price, one Mahmud was forced to pay. In return for sovereignty over the islands of Crete and Cyprus, and the Pashalik of the Morea for his son Ibrahim, the Egyptian army and navy would be sent to assist the Ottomans in suppressing the Greek revolt. Egypt boasted one of the finest fleets in the Muslim world with expert sailors and hundreds of ships, yet it was the Egyptian army which was truly fearsome. Though small in stature compared to the vast hordes of the Ottoman armies, its strength lay in its superb quality. Armed with French rifles, assisted by French cannons, and trained by French officers, the army of Muhammad Ali was the spitting image of Napoleon’s Grande Armée. Its leader Ibrahim Pasha, while by no means another Napoleon, still proved to be a very capable and adaptable commander. His bravery in the heat of battle was well recognized and he inspired great loyalty from his men. Ibrahim and his soldiers were also battled tested, having spent the past 10 years fighting a bitter guerrilla war against the Wahhabis deep in the deserts of Arabia. If any force was best fitted to combat the Greek partisans it would be the Egyptians.

    Rather than immediately traveling to the Morea, Muhammad Ali set about securing his spoils first. Dispatching his fleet to take possession of Cyprus from the Ottoman forces there, Muhammad Ali installed his own men on the island before proceeding onto Crete in mid-June 1824. The Cretans had nearly driven the Turks from their island, forcing them into a few fortified cities on the coast before the Egyptians intervened. Within days of the Egyptians landing, hundreds of villages across Crete were burnt to the ground and their inhabitants were slain or enslaved. By the start of September all organized resistance on the island had been crushed and the remaining partisans were forced to flee to the mountains. The island of Kasos, 30 miles to the Northeast of Crete met a similar fate when the Egyptian Admiral Ismael Gibraltar and Muhammad Ali’s son in law, Hussein Bey conquered the island for the Khedive of Egypt.

    With the islands conquered, the path to the Morea now lay open for Muhammad Ali. Dispatching his son Ibrahim at the head of an army 10,000 strong, the Egyptians initially attempted a landing at Methoni in the Fall of 1824, only to be repelled by the Greek navy whose watch remained vigilant after the fall of Psara. Despite their vigilance, the Greek’s watch was ended by the coming of winter. The winter months were a time when the terrible storms and severe winds made sailing treacherous for the light ships of the Greek and Ottoman navies which were easily thrown into the rocks by the great gusts on the open sea. The Egyptians, however, used heavier Ships of the Line in the vein of the British and the French, which were made nimbler by the frightening winds of Winter. Upon the counsel of his French advisor, Captain Dronault, Ibrahim left port in Alexandria for the Morea.

    Though their voyage was fraught with perils, Ibrahim and his men managed to make landfall in the harbor of Methoni on the 24th of February 1825. Establishing his headquarters in Methoni’s castle, Ibrahim awaited the arrival of the remainder of his army before setting out across the Morea. The Castle of Methoni was the largest fortification in the Morea, and at nearly half a mile in length and a quarter mile in width it was by far the most impressive in terms of size. Situated along the craggy shoreline to the south of Methoni, the castle featured three massive stone walls standing nearly 36 feet high, with the fourth side protected by the sea. The castle had been under siege intermittently since the beginning of the war, but the Greeks had never put forth much of a committed effort to seize it from the Turks inside. The looming civil war between the Greeks made it harder to maintain even the semblance of a proper siege as the Roumeliotes were forced out by the Moreots and the Islander’s ships were recalled from the blockade.


    The Castle of Methoni, Basecamp of Ibrahim Pasha

    Fifteen miles to the East, however, the Greeks had been putting up a more determined effort to take the city of Koroni. Reports concerning its fall became more pressing in the days after Ibrahim’s arrival and despite missing over half his army, Ibrahim, 4,000 infantrymen, and 400 cavalrymen moved to relieve the siege of Koroni on the 2nd of March. The sudden emergence of a fresh fighting force to their rear compelled the Greeks outside Koroni to flee before the Egyptians without so much as a shot fired in opposition. By the end of March, another 7,000 Egyptians landed, bringing Ibrahim’s total above 11,000 men. With the rest of Ibrahim’s soldiers landed, the Egyptian army immediately began to move North towards the bay of Navarino.

    Shaped like an elongated horseshoe, the bay of Navarino formed the best natural harbor in all the Morea with a narrow entrance and a wide inner expanse. It was also one of the most heavily fortified regions in the Morea, protected on all sides by strong defensive works and fortifications. In the North was the castle of Old Navarino, or Palaiokastro. Wedged between the bay in the south and a series of lagoons in the North, Old Navarino sat atop the peak of a steep cliff overlooking Navarino providing the structure with an impressive set of natural defenses. It was an old Frankish castle built in the aftermath of the 4th Crusade, and while it may have been impressive in its day by the Spring of 1825, it was little more than a ruin with gaping holes in its proud walls and a collapsing keep in its courtyard.

    Along the Southern bank of the bay’s mouth, near the town of Pylos, was New Navarino, a castle of Ottoman origin. Dating from the late 16th century, New Navarino was in scantly better condition than Old Navarino, having been abandoned by the Turks in the decades preceding the war. While its location along the lower southern shore paled in comparison to the heights its counterpart sat upon in the north, New Navarino’s walls were designed stout and thick to withstand cannons and artillery giving it a substantial advantage over Old Navarino should it come to a siege. The Greeks had done their best to improve it in the days leading up to Ibrahim’s attack, patching holes and storing up supplies, but they were rushed for time and short on men. The last defense of the bay was the fortress island Sphaktiria which sat directly in the mouth of the Bay. More akin to a mountain jutting out of the sea than an island, Sphaktiria provided Navarino with its greatest defense.


    New Navarino and the city of Pylos​

    Before Ibrahim could begin reducing the Greek defenses around Navarino, a new adversary had arrived from the North. An army of Greek klephts and militiamen led by the former Executive member Sotiris Charalamvis had marched South from Elis to join with his allies the Kolokotroneoi in Messenia.[2] Charalamvis’ force while certainly large for the Greeks at 5,000 strong, it proved to be a disorganized and undisciplined mess. Still, he posed a significant threat to Ibrahim Pasha, one which he would rather defeat in quick succession before it joined with the men already stationed at Navarino. Leaving much of his army behind to screen Pylos, Ibrahim marched East against Charalamvis with only 2,000 infantrymen and 400 cavalrymen.

    Charalamvis had positioned himself admirably atop the hills above Kremmidhia. With only a single impassable ravine leading to his rear, the Moreots were free to direct their full attention to the threat before and below them. Despite lacking the discipline of the Egyptian adversaries, the Greeks managed to easily repel their foes on two separate attacks. Following the second failed assault on Krimmidhia, Ibrahim’s cavalry retreated down the hill for all to see. While it looked to the Greeks as if the Egyptians were on the verge of collapse, the truth was quite the opposite.

    Rather than calling a retreat, Ibrahim had directed his cavalry to circumvent the Greek defenses and move up the narrow ravine that emptied out behind Charalamvis’ position. Despite its difficulty, the Egyptian horses made their way through the gully into the undefended rear of the Greeks, killing Sotiris Charalamvis while he attempted to rally his men against the charging horsemen. When Ibrahim sent in a third infantry wave against the Greek lines, the Moreots finally broke and fled the field in a rout. In total over 600 Greeks were killed in the engagement including Charalamvis, 2,000 were wounded, and another 2,000 were captured by Ibrahim against 1000 Egyptians killed or wounded. Some of the surviving Greeks escaped to the relative safety of New Navarino providing the garrison with additional manpower and munitions, but at the cost of stretching their already thin rations even further.

    With this threat dealt with Ibrahim finally made his move against Navarino’s defenders, his first target was the mighty island of Sphaktiria at the bay’s mouth. Around 800 Greeks defended the island and an additional 8 ships regularly patrolled the waters surrounding it. To take the island, Ibrahim needed the Egyptian fleet and by morning of the 20th of April, 34 Egyptian naval vessels arrived escorting 40 transports. Within moments the Greek ships were scattered and the Egyptians made their way onto Sphaktiria. Despite their best efforts the island’s garrison was defeated and surrendered to Ibrahim’s men. Their commander did not.

    The Phanariot Alexandros Mavrokordatos had been in Messenia negotiating a reconciliation with Sotiris Charalamvis and the Panos Kolokotronis when Ibrahim Pasha arrived in the region. With the Charalamvis’ death at Kremmidhia only three days prior, Mavrokordatos was forced to assumed leadership of the defenses of the bay in his stead. His best efforts were no match for the Egyptians who quickly brushed aside his meager defenses causing the quick surrender of the Sphaktiria’s garrison and the flight of 7 of the 8 Greek ships in the bay. The last ship, the brig Ares, made a daring landfall on the eastern shore of the island, rescuing Mavrokordatos and several others at the cost of the ship’s captain Anastasios Tsamados and five members of the crew. A cloud of smoke filled the bay as the 34 ships of the Egyptian fleet futilely fired upon the nimble Greek vessel to no avail. Finally, after 6 hours, Mavrokordatos and the Ares slipped away from the Egyptians under the cover of night.[3]


    Sortie of the Aris

    With the mouth of the bay now open to his fleet, Ibrahim was free to assail the inner defenses. Bypassing the stronger castle of New Navarino, the Egyptians began reducing the walls of Old Navarino first. Unleashing a withering barrage of shot against the old Frankish walls, the Egyptian artillery managed to reduce the old castle to rubble within a single day, forcing its defenders to surrender on the 22nd.

    On the 23rd Ibrahim moved south and began the siege of New Navarino. Unlike Old Navarino, this castle managed to withstand the blistering artillery barrage from the Egyptian guns, albeit just barely, forcing Ibrahim to put it to a siege. The defenders realized to their dismay that they could not win this fight on their own. If they were to successfully holdout they would need help. On the night of the 26th of April, a dispatch rider snuck through the Egyptian lines carrying a desperate plea for aid from the government in Nafplion. The fate of Greece relied on the response to this message.

    Greece Timeline Map Part 14.png

    Greece in the Spring of 1825 [4]
    Purple - Greece
    Green - Ottoman Empire
    Pink - The United States of the Ionian Islands (Great Britain)​

    Next Time: Papaflessas


    [1] As the POD was during the battle of Dervenakia, the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II would still be forced to call upon the Egyptians to assist him in the war. Muhammed Ali’s decision-making process of seizing the islands first is also unchanged because his primary motivation for joining the war was to secure personal gains for his family, while aiding the Sultan was purely a side effect for these actions.

    [2] In OTL Charalamvis was imprisoned by the Greek government for his role in the civil wars in the Spring of 1825 during Ibrahim’s invasion of Messenia. Without the civil wars, he would likely be free to operate against Ibrahim during his invasion of the Morea due to his military background and strong base in the region. Even still, he is no match for Ibrahim. Ibrahim’s tactics are better, his soldiers are better, and his weapons are better.

    [3] This is an actual event from the war in OTL. Mavrokordatos had been assisting in the defense of Sphaktiria when it fell and only managed to escape thanks to the sacrifice of Captain Tsamados and several members of his crew. It such an extraordinary event that I had to include it.

    [4] Just a note, this is my first attempt at making a map for this timeline, so I apologize if it looks awful.:perservingface: I will continue experimenting with programs and different templates so if the image changes at a later date don’t be alarmed. Eventually my hope is to retroactively edit in maps for the previous updates where they are most relevant.
     
    Part 15: Papaflessas
  • Part 15: Papaflessas


    The Kiss of Ibrahim

    When the news arrived in Nafplion of the Egyptian army’s landing at Methoni and their attack on Navarino, the reaction was mixed at best. Most of those who gathered were Senators from the Islands or Rumelia with little sympathy for men, who until recently threatened war against them. Many delegates from Hydra and Spetses saw the suffering of the Moreots as a proper punishment for their haughtiness and rebelliousness against the very order they had created. The Roumeliotes, the Moreot’s natural allies, were distracted by an invasion of their own by the Ottomans, who recently commenced a third siege against Missolonghi in as many years. More worrying was the campaign in Eastern Greece as the Ottomans made a determined effort to break through the defenses at Thermopylae and push towards Livadeia and Salona. While some did see the dangers of allowing Ibrahim Pasha and his army of Egyptians to run wild through the Morea, they were in a clear minority.

    One of the most vocal advocates of action was the Minister of Internal Affairs, a man called Papaflessas. Born Georgios Dimitrios, Papaflessas was a clergyman within the Greek Orthodox Church for much of his life and managed to rise to the office of Archimandrite, for which he earned his famous moniker Papaflessas during the war. Even during his time as a Priest, Papaflessas was a firebrand preacher renowned for his exuberant homilies calling for the independence of Greece. Despite being a man of the cloth, Papaflessas purchased arms, organized partisans, and collected money for the coming revolution even when it put him at odds with the position of the Church. As a servant of Christ, he believed it to be his sacred duty to not forsake those who lived in suffering and believing the Porte to be the root of that suffering, he did everything in his power to oppose them. So, it was when the war began he supported the effort in any way he could.

    Papaflessas was a prominent figure in the early months of the Revolution, organizing the revolts across the Peloponnese and aiding Theodoros Kolokotronis in battle at Tripolitsa and again at Dervenakia, during this time he met the British Philhellene, Colonel Thomas Gordon. Gordon best described him as a courageous man in battle, good tempered and generous like the kindly priest that he was, but Gordon also called him a vain and dissipated man who lavished himself with glories that were not rightfully his. Following the battle of Dervenakia, Papaflessas entered politics serving in the Executive of Alexandros Mavrokordatos and then again under Petros Mavromichalis as Minister of Internal Affairs. Even with the ensuing disgrace and expulsion of Mavromichalis, Papaflessas would continue to hold the post until the May of 1825 due to his strong support of the National government. During his tenure as Internal Affairs Minister, Papaflessas organized the nascent police forces throughout the country, established the first official mail system in Greece and commissioned the building of numerous schools in villages and towns across the land. He also assisted Archstrategos Demetrios Ypsilantis in establishing the position of Inspector General to increase the organization of the separate military units throughout the country and to ensure greater cooperation between them. By far his most important act during the war was his involvement in the Debate of 1825.



    Georgios Dimitrios Dikaios, Papaflessas- Priest and Patriot

    Using his influence and reputation, along with his constant flair for the dramatic, Papaflessas, spearheaded the effort to reach a compromise between the divided Greeks in the Spring of 1825. According to legend, when news arrived that the Moreots had called for aid, and none appeared forthcoming from the Government, the Priest flew into a rage. Marching into the Senate chamber at the head of a burgeoning crowd he opened into a vicious tirade. Papaflessas publicly lambasted the Senators for putting their petty squabbling before the greater cause of independence. He called them cowards, whoremongers, thieves, liars, hypocrites, and many unsightly things that any upstanding priest should not say. He pronounced to the assembled masses that if no help would be sent by the government, then he vowed that he himself would lead a group of volunteers to drive the Egyptians back into the sea or die trying.

    Once emotions had settled and the Senators had time to think, they withdrew momentarily to debate their course of action. Moments later they returned with decision, the Nafplion Government would dispatch the newly christened Hellenic Army to aid the Moreots and repel the Egyptians, so long as the Tripolitsa Government and those that followed it submitted themselves to the Central Government. Whether Papaflessas’ words had any impact on the deliberations or if the recent dispatch from Phthiotis detailing a decisive defeat of the Ottoman advance, none can say, but the result was clear.

    Most of the Moreots over the coming weeks would reluctantly shallow their pride and submit to the Nafplion government after witnessing firsthand the devastation with which Ibrahim and the Egyptians inflicted upon them. By the end of May the Schism between the Greeks was effectively ended before it ever came to blows. Despite the announcement of the agreement between the factions, Papaflessas stayed true to his vow to fight against Ibrahim and resigned from his office as Minister of Internal Affairs.[1] Compelled by the zeal of the Priest, nearly 2,500 men and boys from Nafplion, Argos, and the countryside joined with Papaflessas on the endeavor departing from Nafplion on the 15th of May.

    Papaflessas and his followers were joined by the Second Regiment of the Hellenic Army, which had itself only been created, or recreated in the case of the Army, in the last few months thanks to the London loan and the tenacity of Archstrategos Ypsilantis in rebuilding the regular forces.[2] It was, however, a severely undermanned military unit, containing barely 60% of the 2,000 men it was supposed to have. It was also an incredibly green unit, made of young boys and men with little fighting experience between them. Their leadership wasn’t much better as they were led by the newly appointed Strategos, Kiriakos Skourtis. Skourtis was a former ship captain turned army general, who was if anything else a political appointee, granted his position solely for his loyal to President Georgios Kountouriotis, rather than for a successful career as a military man. He was a former ship captain, completely lacking in any experience regarding the art of land combat. He was also a drunkard and a fool according to most of his contemporaries.

    Departing from Nafplion, the Greeks moved to join with the Moreots of Panos Kolokotronis and Panagiotis Anagnostopoulos near the small village of Maniakion.[3] Establishing themselves atop two hills flanking the road, Skourtis and Papaflessas prepared barricades and obstructions to block the road north as they awaited the arrival of their compatriots under Kolokotronis and Anagnostopoulos. When they arrived with their men the group numbered roughly 5,500 Greeks in total. It was a truly diverse assembly of Greek men with Arvanites, Epriotes, Hydriots, Moreots, Maniots, Roumeliotes, Spezziotes, and even a few Macedonians and Thracians rounding out their number. They soon received reports that Ibrahim’s force was on the move in their direction.


    The Greeks Gather at Maniakion

    Ibrahim’s scouts had discovered the movement of the Greeks and was forced to leave his siege of New Navarino once again, to face the new threat from the Greeks. Leaving half his force behind, Ibrahim marched Northeast in the direction of Papaflessas and the assembled Greeks. When the Egyptians appeared in the distance in the early afternoon of the 21st, the Greeks opted to make a stand on the hills overlooking the road. Most of those assembled were unfamiliar to the Egyptians fearsome reputation, the Egyptians looked like emaciated men to the Greeks, in ill fitted uniforms, led by a short and pudgy man. Believing their opponent to be of a similar disposition as their Ottoman allies, the Greeks grew overly confident in their own capabilities and thought victory was all but certain. They would soon learn that the 7,000 strong Egyptian force outclassed the Greeks in virtually every way. Ibrahim held a clear advantage in numbers at 7 to 5. His weaponry was more advanced, wielding modern muskets and rifles, they fielded two companies of cavalry, and they were supported by a full battery of artillery. Ibrahim’s officers had been drilled in the art of war by French veterans of the Napoleonic wars, many of whom had been contemporaries of Fabvier from his younger days. And while they certainly looked small and malnourished to the Greeks from a distance, they would soon learn that they were incredibly disciplined and experienced soldiers that would not break at the start of gunfire, nor would they retreat at the sight a charge.

    In fact, it was Papaflessas’ own volunteers who broke first. When the Egyptians arrived at the foot of the hills, the Greeks unleashed their erratic attacks to little effect. They had attempted to ambush, but Ibrahim and his men had seen through the endeavor, blunting the worst of the attack. Ibrahim’s men in turn calmly readied their weapons and fired on the disorganized Greeks as they revealed themselves, killing scores of men and maiming many more. The green boys and unreliable Klephts immediately abandoned the fight and fled for their lives. What started as a stream gradually built to a flood as about 2,000 Greek men and boys abandoned the field after the initial volley leaving their compatriots in an untenable position. The Western hill had been left completely vacant, allowing the Egyptians the opportunity to attack the exposed flank of the Greeks. Skourtis, lacking the aptitude of an experienced general, neglected to immediately secure the hill, leaving himself and his force vulnerable to such a move. Ibrahim, recognizing the opportunity quickly pounced on the much-reduced Hellenes and began to encircle them with his larger host.

    With the Egyptians beginning to close in around them, Skourtis finely broke and fled the field, destroying any semblance of discipline remaining within the Greek forces. In a selfless act, Papaflessas and Anagnostopoulos organized a rearguard action with some volunteers to allow the rest of the army to escape. With no other option the remaining men retreated leaving the Priest and his followers to their fate while they broke through the thin veil of the enemy lines to their rear. Outnumbered and outgunned, Papaflessas held out for the remainder of the day under hails of gunfire from the Egyptians. Per tales of the event, Papaflessas stood up under a blistering rain of bullets and recited verses of the bible to the terrified Greeks to quell their nerves. Despite taking a shot to the shoulder, the Priest continued his liturgy ignoring the pain. With their numbers dwindling and the last of their allies’ safe, Papaflessas and some 300 men charged down the hill upon their besiegers. Many were cut down by a rain of bullets with only 50 making it to the Egyptian lines. Despite suffering another shot to the chest and several slashes to his arms and legs, the priest continued onwards running his sword through three Egyptians breaking it in the process.

    Papaflessas and 7 of his men made it within sight of Ibrahim Pasha’s personal guard before being cut down in a volley of precise gunfire. By dusk all fighting had ceased as Anagnostopoulos and the last Greeks atop the hill were finally gunned down ending the battle. Instead of being insulted or angered by the Greek’s defiance, Ibrahim chose to honor their valor and bravery. The body of their leader was cleaned and propped against a tree where upon the Egyptian kissed the corpse of Papaflessas in a show of respect before having him properly buried in the Orthodox Christian rite.[4] Nevertheless, Ibrahim had emerged victorious against the Greeks and the road into the heart of the Morea lay open before him. For the Greeks in New Navarino, the news of Papaflessas’ death and the defeat of their reinforcements signaled the end of their resistance. Before Ibrahim could return, most of the castle’s garrison attempted an escape, to varying degrees of success, leaving the sick and injured behind to surrender. Ibrahim in a show of mercy and gracious inclination spared their lives for he had other, more important matters to attend to.

    Greece Timeline Map Part 15 Papaflessas.png

    Greece at the end of May 1825
    Purple – Greece
    Green – Ottoman Empire
    Pink – The United States of the Ionian Islands​

    Next Time: The Battle of Argolis


    [1] Due to the Civil Wars in OTL the Greek Government refused to aid the Peloponnesians against the Egyptians and only acquiesced after Papaflessas and his group were killed at Maniaki. The Government released the Moreots that had fought against them in the 2nd Civil War including Theodoros Kolokotronis among many others, but he had limited success against Ibrahim and was ultimately forced to fight a guerrilla war. Without the worsened relations caused by the two civil wars, I believe that the Nafplion Government would be willing to assist the Moreots now if they were properly cowed by fear of Ibrahim. Still not all Moreots will be as amenable as others.

    [2] Demetrios Ypsilantis had been responsible for the creation of the first Professional Military unit in Greece, the Batiste Regiment in 1821. It was comprised of refugees from Asia Minor, Thrace, and Macedonia, and it fought in the many battles in the first year of the war before being disbanded due to rising costs both in coin and manpower. A second professional military unit was established early in 1822, comprised of former members of the Batiste Regiment and Philhellene volunteers, but they too were disbanded after many members were massacred in the Battle of Peta. With Ypsilantis in “command” of the Greek Army and the London Loan being handled better, it goes without saying that the Greeks would try to create a more professional fighting force, loyal to the state rather than a captain.

    [3] This is essentially the same location as the OTL battle of Maniaki, although this battle is mostly different from that one aside from Papaflessas death and the flight of the Greek volunteers. Part 16 will be the last part that follows the OTL war this closely, as the war will begin diverging immensely from its OTL counterpart from Part 17 onward for the most part.

    [4] Ibrahim Pasha did this in OTL as well. Despite his ruthlessness towards his enemies, he was incredibly respectful to opponents he deemed to be particularly honorable or brave.
     
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    Part 16: The Battle of Argolis
  • Part 16: The Battle of Argolis


    The Village of Lerna

    With Papaflessas dead, the Greek Army sent running, and Navarino now under his complete control, Ibrahim Pasha began to dispatch his forces to ravage the countryside. It is said that all of Greece left in his wake from Methoni to Argos was a complete and utter wasteland with barely a soul remaining. Men were killed by the hundreds, women and children were enslaved by the thousands, and dozens of villages and townships were wiped from the map. It is said that anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 people were either killed or shipped to Egypt in chains. News of his brutality spread like wildfire across Europe as the Saracens of Egypt initiated their “Barbarization Project” to remove all the good Christians of Greece from the lands of their forefathers under pain of death. Whether the Barbarization Project was a real objective of Ibrahim Pasha no one can say, as no documents remain indicating the extent of his intentions while in Greece. His actions were equally conflicted as he routinely massacred villages for things as little as a slight offensive only to spare many others based on his compassionate nature.

    What can be determined is that over the course of the next month, Ibrahim’s army moved East from Navarino Bay; his destination unknown. In response, the Greek Government instated conscription across Greece with the intent of raising 10,000 men each year for a period of three years. They also tasked Archstrategos Ypsilantis with defending Argolis, which was presently defended by one regiment, numbering 1,700 men and roughly 2,500 klephts and militiamen of dubious ability. Accounts of Ibrahim’s March from the Sea indicated that he was moving towards Tripolitsa, and reports from the walled city verified that Egyptian soldiers were in fact in the vicinity. When the returning survivors from Maniakion arrived in Nafplion, Ypsilantis finally gathered the confidence to confront Ibrahim and marched forth from Nafplion on the 27th of June. His goal was to catch the Egyptians unaware, pinning them against the walls of Tripolitsa, and destroying them there and then. When he reached the outskirts of Tripolitsa, he found that the Egyptians were nowhere to be found. The Greeks had fallen for a trap of their own.

    Overnight, Ibrahim and his host had lifted the siege of Tripolitsa and departed south towards Astros, with the goal of taking Argos and Nafplion which had been left largely undefended by Ypsilantis’ advance.[1] The Phanariot’s blunder provided Ibrahim with a golden opportunity to crush the rebellion once and for all were it not for the opposition of a ragtag bunch of armatoloi, kapos, klephts, farmers, merchants, philhellenes, sailors, and militia led by the Strategos Yannis Makriyannis. Makriyannis had fought against Ibrahim only days before at New Navarino before its fall. In his memoirs, he details the events of his daring escape from Pylos when he and the abled bodied members of his garrison escaped from the castle at dusk on the 20th of May. Fighting their way clear of the Egyptians surrounding Pylos, Makriyannis and most of his men managed to escape into the hills of Messenia before Ibrahim arrived in force. Though he succeeded in breaking out of the castle with many of his men, he considered his efforts at Navarino a failure. The act was a blemish on his pride and so he sought to redeem himself for his failures in a rematch with Ibrahim.


    Yannis Makriyannis, Greek Commander at Myloi

    Gathering at Myloi, Makriyannis and around 200 men turned the small mill into a fortress.[2] Holding Myloi was vital to the defense of Nafplion as it held the stores of grain and munitions depots for the capital. Most importantly the Myloi stream provided Nafplion with fresh water, as its own cisterns had, rather embarrassingly, been allowed to collapse over the years. After several days of strengthening the walls and constructing fortifications around the village, Ibrahim arrived. In one last act of desperate bravado, Makriyannis sent the horses back to Nafplion and had the ships resting on the beach sent away as well. If Nafplion was to be held then Myloi must not fall; there would be no retreat from Myloi for Yannis Makriyannis and his men.

    By the time Ibrahim Pasha arrived on the 28th of June, nearly 600 Greeks had assembled to oppose him. In what would prove to be a rare mistake by Ibrahim Pasha, the Egyptian commander chose to employ only half his available force against the Greeks, sending the other half to ravage the countryside and to defend his long and exposed supply lines. Still outnumbered nearly 10 to 1, Makriyannis and his men bravely opposed the battle-hardened Egyptians. Each house in the town was barricaded and occupied by men ready to fight to the death, forcing the Egyptians to go house by house in a bloody conflict. As the battle commenced a heavy smoke began to fill the air as shot after shot after shot rang out in the sleepy little hamlet. Seeking to instill chaos into the ranks of the enemy, Makriyannis directed his sharpshooters to target the Egyptian officers to deprive the rank and file of their leaders.

    As the battle dragged on, the Egyptians surprisingly began to waver, what was supposed to be a relatively easy battle against an untrained rabble had become a grueling affair. In one of the few instances in the war, the vaunted discipline of the Egyptians began to breakdown after several hours of constant battle. In a bold gambit, Yannis Makriyannis drew his sword and rushed the Egyptians alone at first, but soon he was followed by the entirety of the Greek force at Myloi. For the first time in four months, the Egyptians broken ranks and fled the field, Ibrahim had been repulsed.


    Makriyannis at Myloi

    After the initial failures of Ibrahim’s first assault on the 28th he prepared a second for the following day on the 29th of June, but by the end of the second day the Egyptians were beaten back once more. A third attempt against Myloi was scrapped when reinforcements to the tune of 700 men arrived at the fortress town, doubling Makriyannis’ force. More worryingly, however, were the reports that Demetrios Ypsilantis and his men were sighted several miles to their rear. Once more, though, Ibrahim would disappoint Ypsilantis as he began a hasty withdrawal from Argolis entirely. While Ypsilantis did manage to catch members of Ibrahim’s rearguard, the engagement that followed near the village of Kalamaki was inconclusive. At best, this confrontation could be considered a draw as the Egyptians were able to retreat into the Morean interior in good order while the Greeks could claim victory for driving the enemy from the field, a position Makriyannis, Ypsilantis, and the Greek Government played to their advantage. Still, the sudden retreat of Ibrahim Pasha and his host was disconcerting to the Greeks as victory was within his grasp. Had he marched on Nafplion it would have fallen and the Greek government would have fallen with it.

    It would later be discovered that Ibrahim Pasha refrained from the third attack at Myloi upon sighting several British and French vessels anchored offshore in the Argolic Gulf. The British and French ships had arrived in the city on the 30th to prevent what they saw as a looming slaughter of the cities’ inhabitants as victory for the Egyptians seemed inevitable. Despite this, neither the British nor the French intended to deny the Egyptians control of the city, Ibrahim not knowing this obviously interpreted their presence differently. Believing that the British and French would side with the Greeks against him if he pressed attack against Nafplion, he was left with no choice but to stay his hand against Nafplion and its people.

    When Demetrios Ypsilantis attempted to follow Ibrahim three days later, he himself was ambushed on the road near Korythio. The Greeks lack of cavalry proved to be their undoing and they were quickly routed in a humiliating display. Fleeing back to Nafplion with his tail between his legs, Ypsilantis was forced to wait out the remainder of the year while Ibrahim was allowed to act with relative impunity in Arcadia. This defeat was made worse by the arrival of fresh reinforcements from Egypt in early August, replacing Ibrahim’s losses from the earlier campaigns in Messenia and Argolis and bringing his total strength above 15,000 men.

    While the Greeks had achieved some minor victories against Ibrahim Pasha on land, they were fleeting at best. Ibrahim could not be everywhere however, as most of his raiding parties were routinely defeated by the Greeks in the Morean interior. Their best results came at sea where on two separate occasions, Greek fireships managed to successfully destroy 7 ships of the Egyptian fleet, which would prove to be only a minor inconvenience for Ibrahim rather than the massive setback the Greeks portrayed it to be. An attempt against the Egyptian fleet at Alexandria was made, but it resulted in only the sinking of eight Egyptian vessels at the cost of three fireships. The poor wind in the harbor prevented the fires from spreading to the rest of the densely packed fleet, limiting the damage. While these naval losses were indeed minor, they revealed the continued vulnerability of Ottoman and Egyptian vessels to Greek fireships and over time it would become a protracted problem for Ibrahim, one which he could not solve himself. Still, Ibrahim’s prowess on land had been established as the Greeks for the remainder of the year opted to avoid facing him directly and for the next five months Ibrahim ravaged the Morea with relative impunity before entering winter quarters outside Patras in late November.

    Greece Timeline Map Part 16 Battle for Argolis(1).png

    Greece at the end of June 1825
    Purple – Greece
    Green – Ottoman Empire
    Pink – The United States of the Ionian Islands (Great Britain)​

    Next Time: Freedom’s Home


    [1] In OTL, Tripolitsa was ceded to Ibrahim without a fight. Believing he couldn’t defend the city against the Egyptians, Theodoros Kolokotronis opted to abandon it and burn it to the ground against the wishes of the Greek Government. Unfortunately, Ibrahim arrived faster than expected and quickly managed to put out the fires. The Greeks only regained the city after the war buy at that point, Ibrahim burned it to the ground and razed its great walls. Without Kolokotronis’ desperate act, it is my belief that Tripolitsa would remain in Greek hands, at least for the time being, and rather than commit to a long siege of the city, he would choose to advance on Nafplion which was lightly defended at the time.

    [2] Myloi, the Mills of Lerna, or just Lerna, was the site where according to legend the hero Hercules slew the Hydra.
     
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    Part 17: Freedom's Home
  • Part 17: Freedom’s Home


    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.


    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.


    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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    Part 18: Glory's Grave
  • Part 18: Glory’s Grave


    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.


    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.


    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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    Part 19: The Governor of Greece
  • Part 19: The Governor of Greece


    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.


    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.


    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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    Part 20: Akkerman or War
  • Part 20: Akkerman or War


    Akkerman Castle, Site of the Conference of Akkerman

    On the 2nd of March 1826, a British vessel arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia. Aboard was the victor of Waterloo, the First Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley. Wellington had been sent to Russia officially to congratulate the new Tsar Nicholas on his ascension to the throne, but his visit included a far more important task. Nicholas’ brother, the previous Tsar Alexander I had been in extensive negotiations with the British government over the plight of the Greeks in their war against the Ottomans.

    Alexander had a long and winding relationship with the Sublime Porte since the war began in 1821. Tsar Alexander was initially opposed to the rebellion of the Greeks, ruthlessly denouncing the actions of his former friend and Aide de Camp, Alexander Ypsilantis when he invaded the Danubian Principalities, sparking the war.[1] The Tsar even had the Phanariot’s name struck from every record of officers in the Russian Army and barred him refuge in Russia henceforth. His stance quickly changed following the murder of the Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory V and the massacre of Constantinople’s Greek populace in April. In response to this, Russia severed all ties to the Porte, recalled its diplomats, and threatened to support the Greeks in their war against them alongside the “Whole of Christendom” unless the Porte acquiesced to Russia’s demands for the autonomy of the Greeks. Unfortunately for Alexander and the Greeks, the Quintuple Alliance was decidedly against intervention, nor was the Whole of Christendom for that matter. With no external support, Alexander was forced to back away from war.

    His second clash with the Ottomans over the Greeks came in the Winter of 1824 when he proposed hosting a congress of the Quintuple Alliance along with the Ottomans and representatives of the Greeks to reach an amiable conclusion to the conflict. By this time, Alexander intended to establish Greece as three separate Principalities comprising the Morea, Eastern Rumelia, and Western Rumelia.[2] While they would receive more autonomy under Alexander’s proposal, they would remain tied to the Ottoman Empire as vassal states. Despite their continued failures to defeat the Greeks over three years of bitter and bloody war, the Ottoman Foreign Minister Reis Effendi immediately rejected the proposal in a scathing rebuke, one which allegedly made him blue in the face and pass out from exhaustion. While the Greeks were inclined to attend the conference, Alexander’s terms were leaked to them resulting in a public outcry from the Greeks and their immediate refusal to attend as well. Without the involvement of the Greeks or the Ottomans, the British promptly refused to attend the Congress as well and by December 1824, the effort was well and fully dead when Metternich and Talleyrand of France refused to cooperate with the Tsar.

    By 1825, Britain’s stance towards Greece had begun to change as news from the East emerged in British papers. The British people had always been predisposed towards the Greeks as a fellow Christian people, long oppressed by a foreign power. The tales of Lord Byron and his adventures captivated the masses and his return to Britain in September was met with wild applause and a hero’s welcome. His return to the House of Lords after more than a decade was not met with such exuberance and he soon left London once again for the continent to rally support for the Greeks. The depravity of Ibrahim Pasha was also equally powerful in moving the British public towards intervention, yet still the British Government resisted any action in Greece, the British Foreign Minister George Canning, however, was open to the idea.

    Canning’s predecessor and longtime rival, Lord Castlereagh, had been a staunch opponent of intervention in the Greek War of Independence and along with his ally, the Duke of Wellington, he had frustrated the efforts for official recognition of and support for the Greeks. Castlereagh as the architect behind the Quintuple Alliance and the Congress system strongly opposed any efforts to circumvent its authority much to the aggravation of Tsar Alexander, as he had personally had personally ended the Tsar hopes of intervention in 1821. Relations with Russia had soured under Castlereagh, but with his death in August 1822 and Canning’s reappointment to the office in mid-September of that year, Britain began a slow process of reconciliation towards Russia and the Greek rebels. Despite that, it would take another two and a half years before Britain and Russia fully aligned with one another, and no one was more influential in mending the relations between the British and the Russians than the wife of the Russian Ambassador to Great Britain, Princess Dorothea von Lieven.


    Foreign Minister George Canning (Left) and Princess de Lieven (Right)


    Princess von Lieven was an incredibly savvy woman, politically sophisticated, and in many ways, she was even more influential than her husband the Ambassador. She had a talent for making even the most discreet men give up their secrets. While visiting family in St. Petersburg during the Summer of 1825, she was hosted by Tsar Alexander and his Foreign Minister Karl Nesselrode on several occasions. The Tsar in his conversations with her revealed his opinions of the war in Greece, his troubles with the Quintuple Alliance, and his desire to pass reforms at home in Russia. Finding the Princess to be trustworthy and capable, the Tsar had Nesselrode entrust her with the private knowledge of his desire to break from the Quintuple Alliance and form a bilateral alliance with Britain to more effectively deal with the Greek War. Before departing for London, Nesselrode also gave the Princess a message meant to be strictly delivered to Canning with utmost secrecy. Upon her return to Britain in October, Princess von Lieven met with Canning in private while he was on holiday in Brighton. She explained the Tsar’s desire to cooperate fully with Great Britain towards a peaceful solution in Greece and most importantly, she presented the Tsar’s message to Canning:

    “The Court of Russia has positive information that before Ibrahim Pasha’s army was put in motion, an agreement was entered into by the Porte with the Pasha of Egypt, that whatever part of Greece Ibrahim Pasha might conquer should be at his disposal; and that his plan of disposing of his conquest is (and was stated to the Porte to be and has been approved by the Porte) to remove the whole Greek population, carrying them off into slavery in Egypt or elsewhere, and to re-people the country with Egyptians and others of the Mohammedan religion.”

    This letter revealed evidence of a clear breach of the Treaty of Kutchuk-Kainardji making Russian intervention inevitable.[3] The delivery of the letter was clearly a ploy meant to drag Britain along as well, as they could not allow Russia to act alone for whatever reason, humanitarian or otherwise. Whether by choice or by coercion, Canning and the British government were compelled to align with Tsar Alexander and Russia in regard to Greece. Unfortunately, Tsar Alexander fell ill and died on the 1st of December before any further progress could be made towards intervention or mediation. The succession crisis that followed did little to assuage the concerns of the British Government and so it was that when Alexander’s youngest brother, Nicholas took the throne as Tsar, the Duke of Wellington was dispatched to ascertain his stance towards Greece and the Ottomans.


    Tsar Nicholas I, Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias
    Tsar Nicholas was seemingly impartial to the plight of the Greeks, having just surmounted his own rebellion against his rule, and being staunchly conservative in his beliefs certainly did little to ingratiate himself to the rebellious and relatively liberal Greeks. His antagonism towards the Ottomans, however, was clearly on display. In late January, with his enemies at home defeated, and the Ottomans embarrassed once again at Missolonghi, Nicholas issued the Ottomans an ultimatum regarding their illegal occupation of the Danubian Principalities and Serbia. They were to withdraw all their forces from the Principalities, restoring their autonomy, and allow locally elected boyars to serve as the princes of Wallachia and Moldavia, as opposed to Ottoman appointed princes. The Ottomans were also required to reaffirm the Treaty of Bucharest which established Serbia as an autonomous principality under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire. Finally, a conference was to be held in Akkerman to formalize the preceding terms and the Porte’s acceptance of those terms in writing. Refusal of these terms would result in a state of war between them.

    Despite Ottoman resistance, Nicholas persisted and by the beginning of March they had agreed to attend the conference at Akkerman.[4] With the matter of the Principalities settled for now, the Tsar turned his attention to the Iron Duke and Greece. Nicholas, Nesselrode, and the Ambassador to Great Britain, Prince Christopher Henry von Lieven, negotiated with Duke Wellington and the British Ambassador Lord Strangford to resolve the long-delayed Greek Question. After only a fortnight, they reached an agreement that both Britain and Russia would jointly mediate the conflict between the Ottoman Empire and the Greeks. The terms to be enforced by the British and Russias were as follows:

    · Greece would become a dependency of the Ottoman Empire, paying an agreed annual tribute.

    · The Greeks would choose their own governing authorities, but in this choice the Ottoman Empire shall hold influence over the proceedings.

    · Greece shall have complete freedom of conscience, of trade, and of internal administration.

    · To separate Greeks from Turks, the Greeks would acquire all Turkish property in Greece.

    · If mediation was rejected by the Ottoman Empire, these proposals would form the basis of intervention by Russia and Britain either jointly or separately.

    · The future extent of Greece shall be settled at a later date.

    · Neither Russia nor Britain would seek for herself territorial gains, exclusive influence or commercial advantage from the mediation.

    · Austria, France, and Prussia would be invited confidentially to guarantee, with Russia, the final arrangement, but Britain will not be part to this guarantee.

    These terms were intended to give something to both the Ottomans and the Greeks, but in truth neither party favored them. The Protocol also signaled the end of the Quintuple Alliance after barely more than a decade as the two strongest members of the alliance broke its very principles to achieve their own interests. Metternich denounced the measure as a renunciation of the order and authority they had worked so hard to reestablished after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, that it recognized the legitimacy of rebels and that any solution in the Balkans would require war. Austria and Metternich were clearly against the measure yet, surprisingly, they refrained from rejecting involvement in it completely. Instead, Metternich attempted to kill the proposal by muddying the waters, they released confusing statements, outrights lies and half-truths to anyone who would listen. Suffice to say, their efforts didn’t work.


    Klemens von Metternich, State Chancellor of the Austrian Empire

    Prussia, despite being the furthest from the conflict and having the lowest interest in the region, announced its tepid support for the Protocol, but also revealed that it lacked little means of supporting or enforcing it. France was clearly interested in the affairs of the Ottoman Empire and its environs and it was certainly invested in the region as it was the primary supplier and trainer of the Egyptian army and navy which were currently assailing Greece. Their interests logically extended to Greece itself. In April 1825, the French General Roche landed in Nafplion to promote the potential candidacy of the Duke of Nemours as the future King of Greece, should they win their independence.[5] The General’s mission quickly met with difficulty as the rising influence of the British in Greece, the so called English Party, came to take hold of many the Greek magnates and notables ending their hopes of a French King for Greece. With their independent intrigues in Greece a failure, the French slowly began to align with the British and Russian initiative to mediate the end to the war. By the end of August, the French government also came out in support of the Protocol and signed as a full partner to Britain and Russia in the subsequent Treaty of London in July of the next year.

    The Porte’s reaction was not as graceful. When they learned of the Protocol of St. Petersburg in the Fall, the Ottomans, as they had done before in 1824, immediately rejected the offer of mediation by the British and Russians. Having already been slighted by the Russians earlier that year, the Conference of Akkerman had proven to be little more than a farce. There was no negotiation of terms, nor any semblance of it as they were forced to capitulate to each of Tsar Nicholas’ demands, it was clear that the Conference was a production meant solely to humiliate the Porte and that accepting the mediation put forth by this Protocol would only result in further disgrace and dishonor. They would not accept, they could not accept, and so the answer once again was a firm no. Akkerman had made it so any future proposal would end in the same manner.

    The Greek response to the Protocol of St. Petersburg was more nuanced, choosing to delay their response until the Ottomans had announced their opposition, they then announced their own tentative support for mediation. Though they disagreed with many of the terms, specifically remaining subject to the Porte and the uncertainties regarding territory, they viewed them as starting points from which they could advance from. They also recognized they were in desperate need for help, Missolonghi had fallen, Nafpaktos and Salona were under siege, and Ibrahim had returned to the Morea, albeit greatly weakened. Despite their past victories, they could not hope to fight the Ottomans forever. Fortunately for them, the Ottoman rejection of the Protocol had made the intervention of the Powers an inevitability, one that was now just a matter of time. They only needed to survive until they arrived.

    Next Time: Perseverance on Troubled Tides


    [1] Alexander was a colonel in the Russian army as commander of the 1st Hussars brigade. He served with distinction in the Napoleonic Wars. In the battle of Dresden, he lost his right arm to a cannon ball, but continued to fight despite his injury, earning him the respect of Tsar Alexander.

    [2] This territory would correspond roughly to the Peloponnese, Central Greece, Thessaly, and most of Epirus. In addition to Serbia and the Danubian Principalities, Russia would have 6 satellites in the Balkans, which was a very concerning prospect for the other members of the Quintuple Alliance.

    [3] The truth is Russia didn’t have any evidence of the Barbarization Project beyond what was already common knowledge. Ibrahim and the Ottoman government also denied any such intentions to do this, although they keenly refused to issue these denials in writing. Regardless, both here and in OTL, Canning and much of the British government believes it to be true.

    [4] Akkerman, modern day Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, is a port city located on the Black Sea coast of Ukraine near its border with Moldova. In 1826, Akkerman was under Russian control, and the decision to host the conference in Russian territory as opposed to neutral territory was clearly meant to humiliate the Ottomans.

    [5] The Duke of Nemours, OTL King Louis Philippe, was indeed promoted as the French candidate for Greece during the war although it didn’t get very far both in OTL and in TTL.
     
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