LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of the Affairs of Greece
Chapter XXII

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
‣ Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIV
Chapter XXXV
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Neglect of the Greeks in guarding their outposts—Speech of the superior of a monastery—Conduct of the Greeks at Babini.

It will easily be credited, that amidst chiefs and soldiers imbued with these principles, neither order nor subordination could reign in our camp. Every one occupied the position, that best suited his taste. The most important were often abandoned as being more exposed or less convenient:—each, considering himself on a footing of equality, consulted his own pleasure, and that only in leaving or returning to the army, and disclaiming all obedience to superiors or deference to authority. Common security, it might be thought, should have made these men equally anxious to see the outposts well guarded. Yet so little attention was paid to this service, that almost every night considerable detachments entered and left the camp without being noticed. As this may appear incredible to those who have never been in a Greek camp, I shall corroborate my statement by relating the following fact.

I was sitting, with some other gentlemen, one evening, after supper, with Mavrocordato; and as we were engaged in an interesting conversation, we remained till after midnight. On a sudden, we heard numerous voices at the gate of the convent. Very much alarmed at this, one of the company looked out of a window, and announced that a large body of soldiers were endeavouring to force open the convent gate. Hardly had he spoken, when half a dozen
fierce-looking fellows rushed up the gallery, where we were sitting. Startled at first, I soon distinguished
Stornari’s secretary; who, addressing himself to Mavrocordato, delivered him despatches from his capitano. He had, although accompanied by two hundred soldiers, passed through the whole camp without being observed by a single sentinel! A party of Albanians, who are dressed exactly like the Greeks, might have surprised us in a similar manner.

So little did our capitani watch the movements of the enemy, that three days passed, after the departure of the Turks from Larpi, before the direction of their march could be ascertained. One afternoon, while Mavrocordato was directing his telescope towards every point of the compass, to find it out, one of the company made the following remark. “It must be confessed, that this Omer Pasha deserves to be emperor of conjurors, car voici trois jours, qu’il s’est escamoté avec ses dix mille hommes, sans que l’on puisse deviner où, ni comment.” This remark made Mavrocordato look rather peevish.

The enemy continued to occupy his new position at Caravansera unmolested. We daily saw in the plain below small detachments of his cavalry strolling in every direction without the slightest attempt to restrain them. During the whole campaign, not a single Turkish head was brought to our camp; or a single soldier wounded by the enemy. The whole booty consisted in a few lame mules, taken by Carajanis’ men. Yet the troops at Ligovitzi amounted on an average to upwards of 2000: Zonga occupied the conical hill of Aetos, with a body of 1000 strong. Profiting by the ancient walls, that crown its summit, he fortified himself in that position in a manner to render it impregnable to the Albanians.

The third corps of the army was in the Vatto,
under the command of
Andrea Isco, who might have done the enemy much harm. Stornari, Liacata, and Rangos, had united their forces, which amounted to about 1200. But instead of attacking the enemy in the rear, they preferred, under the absurd pretence of operating a diversion, to fall on the unfortunate Rayas, who inhabited the villages in the Ragovitzi, and in the environs of Arta. They attempted to justify the thousand atrocities they committed on their coreligionaries by saying, that they had been commanded by their government to consider as the property of an enemy that of every Greek, who, instead of joining the standard of independence, continued to live under the authority of the Turks.

In one of these villages, where the inhabitants offered to resist, several were killed on both sides; among others, the first cousin of Rangos. Carefully avoiding every place, where they were likely to meet with Turks, they pillaged every Christian house where they knew they could get booty without danger. They respected nothing. The superior of a monastery which had, also, been plundered by these soldiers, came to Ligovitzi, in order to complain of their conduct, and to ask restitution of what the convent had lost. Seeing all his applications useless, he burst into a violent rage, and turning himself towards the soldiers, said: “Christians! you name yourselves; and the enemies of our faith could not treat us worse than you have. Regardless of sacrilege, you have polluted with impious steps the Holy of Holies. And your rapacious hands have robbed the sacred vases, consecrated to the service of the God, you pretend to adore. Tremble! for crimes do not lead to liberty; the merited curses and imprecations of your injured brethren will rise to heaven, and solicit revenge. To palliate your guilt, you call us Turcolatri; and blush
not to make a crime of our misfortune. Thus is injustice ever fertile in devising excuses. Innocence itself does not wear a more spotless robe than you. Have you forgotten how often, when your emissaries wished to induce us to rise in arms, we have informed you of the deplorable nature of our position? We sighed after the moment, when we could confidently join the standard of liberty; but, hitherto, necessity has forced us to dissimulate, and bear our chains, till the Greek government could send a force, sufficient to support us, and guarantee the safety of the weaker part of the population. Did we not constantly entreat you to consolidate yourselves, and hasten to our rescue? But how could you inspire us with confidence, when we observed your strength annihilated by discord and anarchy, and threatened on all sides by a formidable and persevering enemy? You have now again sent detachments into our country. They were received as friends; and yet have acted as depredators. Had the deluded peasant been rash enough to join them, the next day he would have seen himself, his property, and his family, abandoned to the mercy of our tyrants.”

Mavrocordato knew not how to refute these too well founded invectives and accusations of the Caloyers. To get rid of his importunities, therefore, he gave him a letter for Rangos, which was only sending from bad to worse.

The troops at Ligovitzi, and at Aetos, could not, from want of opportunity, distinguish themselves by any glorious exploits. As no entreaty or persuasion could induce the capitani to undertake any aggression against the enemy, Mavrocordato directed their attention to the defensive, and exhorted them to fortify, to the utmost of their power, their respective positions. For there existed no doubt, but that they
would be attacked, if the enemy persisted in his resolution of proceeding to Epacto: as in that case he could not leave behind him such a large body of troops, which, if not driven off the field, might intercept his convoys and molest him in a thousand ways.

That all attempts of the enemy might be the more readily frustrated, a solemn bond was formed between the capitani of the two camps; and promises of mutual assistance in case of attack. Certain signals were fixed upon to announce the approach of the Turks; and, on their appearance, those, who should perceive the fires were, without delay, to march to support the others.

In the morning, three fires were perceived on the hill of Aetos. The capitani assembled immediately at the convent to deliberate which of them should put himself in march, and by whom our camp should be kept. Every one endeavoured to prove, more clamorously than his neighbour, that it was not fit, that he should go in preference to another. Mavrocordato, perceiving that the time was precious and not to be wasted in interminable disputes, rose, and said: “Gentlemen, as for me I shall go, and let whoever loves his country follow me.”

In an instant, the whole army was in motion; and even those, who, a moment before, had been loudest in demanding to remain behind, were now among the foremost. In the same manner as at first no one would march; now, no one would remain. The camp was thus completely deserted. Hardly had we advanced half a league towards the plain of Babini, when Macri, who most unwillingly led the vanguard, ordered a halt. He assured every one, that he perceived the enemy’s banners on the hill of Machalà; and that they were evidently advancing towards us. His men confirmed their general’s opinion, and
although with the aid of a good telescope I could not distinguish any thing but brushwood, the words, “the Turks are coming,” circulated from mouth to mouth, and the alarm spread itself like lightning throughout the ranks. “Let us go back;” “let us hasten to our tambouri,” was the general voice. The prince spurred his horse, and flying back as if a squadron of Turkish cavalry had been at his heels, set the bad example. Panic-struck, the soldiers ran with the same pêle-mêle confusion, as if routed. Fortunately for
Zonga, the Albanians were as little inclined to fight as the Greeks. Many of them were even his former friends: so, after remaining a few hours at the wells, that are at the foot of the hill of Aetos, they withdrew without even firing a gun; and advanced in search of booty towards Papadades, where they spent the night. The next morning, they proceeded to Babini, where they burnt the houses, and then returned to the general camp, by way of Larpi.

Had they been more inclined to fight, and had they only contented themselves with making intrenchments around and blockaded Zonga for five days, want of water would have compelled him either to surrender, or to force his way across their camp. Our troops were too demoralisés, ever to have mustered resolution enough to go to his assistance. Thus, the stupidity and singular apathy of the enemy, and a want of knowledge in respect to our weakness, proved our only safeguard. For, had they displayed the slightest judgment, merely by cutting off our communications with Mesolonghi and Anatolico, from which towns we received our daily supplies, they would have compelled us to abandon our position. After the taking of Tripolitza, the Greeks, to the number of 7000, undertook the siege of Patras. They had gained possession of the town, where they in-
trenched themselves, and established a battery, from which they began firing on the fortress.
Youssouf Pasha, who was then at the castle of Morea, actuated by the most fanatical courage, and the contempt of the Giaours, placed himself at the head of 150 Delhis, determined to die for the faith, or drive away the besiegers. Arrived close to the town, he ordered the men to fire their muskets, in order to apprize the garrison of the fortress of their arrival; and without further delay, charged on the Greeks, who, panic-struck, fled without even offering the slightest resistance. Mavrocordato and Caradja, who had just arrived in Greece, lost every object they had brought with them. They owed their lives only to the swiftness of their horses. The Turks, after conveying to the fortress the booty they found on this occasion, reduced the town to ashes.

Mercenary feelings only actuated the Albanians; and fanaticism, which proves a never-failing stimulus to the true Osmanli’s courage, has no effect whatever on them. Interest made them change their religion; and to gain money is the only article of their creed, and their guide in war. Far from wishing the extermination of the enemy, the Albanian apprehends nothing more than his destruction; because his services being then no longer required, he is compelled to return to the barren mountains, and being deprived of a most lucrative occupation, he thinks the destroying of the Greeks as irrational an act, as setting fire to his own harvest.