Greek revolutionaries destroy Ottoman army in Dervenakia

The Battle of Dervenakia is perhaps the most crucial battle of the Greek Revolution. It took place in 1822 just a year after the start of the revolution and its success allowed the Greeks to continue their struggle for independence.

After the final defeat and the death of Ali Pasha, the Ottoman forces led by Hurshit Pasha, who had bivouacked in Larissa (a large Ottoman military center of the time), moved south to face the Greek Revolution. with a powerful expeditionary force. The leader of this army, made up of about 30,000 soldiers, three quarters of whom were combatants, with many cannons and a multitude of beasts of burden, was Mahmud Pasha of Larissa, also known as Dramalis. The main objective of Dramalis was to retake the fortifications of Corinth, Nafplion and Tripolis, in order to crush the Greek rebellion, Haini Zorbalik, as the Ottomans called it.

Dramalis, arrived in Argos on July 12, with 30,000 men (including 24,000 warriors), achieved the desolation of the plain but decided to camp to occupy the acropolis of Argos (Larissa), not wanting to go to Tripoli, leaving behind enemy pockets. This decision also contributed to the fact that Larissa Castle was the first in the Peloponnese to put up resistance, leading it to believe that the Argians had sequestered their fortunes as well as many supplies. The siege of the castle therefore began the next day.

Day after day, however, the Ottoman army began to face serious food problems. In addition, in the summer of 1822 it was very hot, in the spring there was little rainfall and most of the wells and streams around Argos had dried up. Under these circumstances, Dramalis began to seriously think about stopping the invasion and returning to Corinth.

On July 20, the village of Miloi in the Argolis plain was the headquarters of the Greek fighters around which the Greek irregulars had gathered. At the ensuing council of war, Kolokotronis proposed to surround the Turks, and it was decided that the enemy would be trapped in the Argolis Plain, securing the shrinkage of Dervenakia and placing strong defenses in Ahladokambos and Miloi.

At the same time, it is decided to lift the siege on Larissa Castle, whose defenders begin to suffer from food and water shortages. Moreover, the objective for which they had defended the fortress had fully succeeded in keeping Dramalis in Argos, leaving sufficient time for the recruitment and concentration of Greek troops. Thus, on the evening of July 23, certain units were ordered to attack the besieged fortress from all sides. During the ensuing melee, correctly alerted, the besieged were not disturbed and joined the rest of the Greek units.

On July 26, Dramalis decides to return temporarily to Corinth and settles in Dervenakia, a narrow parade which connects the Argolis to the Corinthian plain. The main passage, based on General Kolokotroni’s plan, was guarded by Antonios Kolokotronis and around 1,500 men.

At the same time, Kolokotronis had placed Chief Platoutas with about 800 men at Schinohori to guard the northwest exit of Argolis towards Stymphalia, and Nikitaras and Papaflessas at Stefani and Aghonorri, with 800 other men to guard the third parade towards Clenia. .

The day before the battle, Kolokotronis climbed onto the roof of a house and invigorated the fighters with a speech narrated by historian Phokakos. He started by saying: “Greeks, today we are born and today we will die for the salvation of our homeland and for ourselves” and continued:

On this day in 1843, the Greek general Theodoros Kolokotronis died

“Today, whoever of us faces a lot, you will get a lot of loot, and Ali Pasha’s treasure you will share by the fez-full, and while the Turks have it, that is Christian money, as the tyrant of Epirus took our brethren. The Holy God sent them to us, and it is our own chalice, and now I am going to see you all with the arms of the Turks, with their horses, shining in their clothes, God is with us,… ”

The Turkish vanguard entered the narrow passage and when it got to the exit the hidden Greeks shot at it. Few are heading towards the Kourtesa plain, while the bulk of the large withdraws with great losses.

As this passage was well guarded by the Greeks, the vanguard and the main body turned towards the second neighboring passage, that of Agios Sostis, to the east of the main passage. This passage was very steep and more difficult for infantry and animals, but the Turks found it defenseless and began to move towards Kourtesa as Antonis Kolokotronis’ unit flanked them. Meanwhile, the unit under Nikitaras and Papaflessas, at noon was alerted by smoke signals that Dramalis was heading towards Dervenakia. The unit regrouped, and marching quickly, it arrived in the afternoon at the summit in the east, above Agios Sostis, and saw the Turks heading towards Kourtesa. Then they attacked the Turks by placing them immediately between two fires, the new arrivals from the east and the west by the troops of A. Kolokotronis.

The battle lasted late into the night and the Turks suffered terrible losses in combatants, animals and equipment. When it got dark, the Turk stopped and returned to Tiryns where they had set up their camp. The losses of the Turks on July 26, juxtaposing memoirs, other news and documents of the time, are estimated at around 2,500-3,000 dead and wounded.

Soon the destruction of Dramalis became a song and a legend in many Greek folk songs:

The beys of Roumeli and the warriors of Morias
In Dervenakia, lie like headless corpses …

The destruction of Dramalis’s army was completed during the Battle of Agionorion on July 28, 1822. Thus, Theodoros Kolokotronis was hailed as the organizer and the main factor of this victory which saved the Revolution and preserved the freedom of Greece modern.

Key words:
Greek Revolution of 1821, Battle of Agionorion, Dramalis, Greece, Greece 2021, Hurshit Pasha, Kourtesa Plain, Phokakos, Siege of Tripolitsa, Theodoros Kolokotronis, Tripolis

Thelma J. Longworth

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