LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of the Affairs of Greece
Chapter XXVIII

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
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Ibrahim Pasha’s expedition against Greece—Battle of Halicarnassus—The Egyptian fleet dispersed by a storm.

Towards the end of February, we received the news, that Ibrahim Pasha had arrived, on the 13th, with a portion of his fleet before Modon, and landed with two regiments.

The entire fleet consisted of eight frigates, twelve corvettes, thirty-six brigs, and numerous transport-ships; it had on board four disciplined regiments, each consisting of four thousand men, two thousand cavalry, one thousand artillerymen. On its way to Modon it was to stop at Candia, in order to take the five thousand Albanian irregulars and eight hundred cavalry under Hussein Bey.

On the 17th of July, 1824, the fleet, composed of upwards of two hundred and twenty sail, left Alexandria; and, in conformity with the orders of the admiral, Ismael Gibelattar, steered towards Rhodes, where there was an indispensable necessity of touching; in order to renew the supply of water, of which, owing to the number of men, horses, and mules, on board, caused an immense consumption to be made. Assisted by fair winds, they soon arrived in the bay of Marmarizza; where Ibrahim convoked a general counsel, or divan, in order to deliberate on the best plan for opening and pursuing the campaign. The chiaia, and chief officers of his court, Ismael and the principal naval officers, Courshid Bey, Selim Bey,
Hussein Bey, and Soliman Bey, (formerly Mr. Sève) colonels of the four regiments, attended. The latter and a few others, were of opinion that the best plan would be to effect a landing at once at Hydra: the principal, and, in truth, the only source of the enemy’s strength consisting, they observed, in their navy; and as the simplest and most expeditious manner of extirpating an evil is the attacking it at the root, every other plan ought to be laid aside till the Greek vessels were destroyed. This, they said, would strike a blow at the heart; while the most brilliant success on land, could only act like slight wounds, easily to be healed. Others replied, that convinced, as every one must be of the necessity of destroying the Greek fleet, yet they could not but regard it highly unadvisable, not to say impossible, to venture on a maritime campaign, before they had landed the transports with the provisions, ammunition, and siege artillery, in the Morea. Having done this, a no less important subject would remain for consideration; viz. that as they did not possess a single port in the Morea, in which they could anchor in safety, they should concentrate all their efforts to gain possession of the fortress of Navarino, which defended the entrance to one of the finest and most convenient harbours in the world. It would then be time to think of directing their efforts on Hydra.

When Ismael Gibelattar’s turn arrived to speak, he requested Ibrahim to allow him, in consideration of the friendship his father bore to him, and of his grey beard, to address him freely. Having obtained permission, he entreated him to observe, that since union among leaders is the soul of success, he much feared, the present enterprise would entirely miscarry, unless an open and sincere reconciliation took place between him and the capitan pasha. As they
were both to co-operate in the execution of the meditated designs against the enemies of their common faith, he trusted that, henceforth, forgetting their grievances, their rivalship would consist in vying who should display most zeal, and who act most in harmony with the other. It was indispensable, he thought, that an interview should take place; a decision could then be made, as to the plan of the campaign; and there could be no doubt, but the great experience and wisdom of
Topal Pasha would prove of infinite service. Besides, the Egyptian fleet was in itself too small to succeed in an undertaking so fraught with difficulty as the taking of Hydra. The powerful co-operation of that from Constantinople, however, would place success beyond all doubt.

Ibrahim, who had no personal resentment against the capitan pasha, readily consented to these propositions; observing, that he would ever act with sincerity himself; but he greatly feared, that Topal Pasha’s hatred to his father was so deeply rooted and irreconcilable, that he extended it, also, to his son; and that, though he might for awhile assume the mask of friendship, he might do it only the more certainly to gratify his revenge. Indeed the injuries, received by him from Mehmet Ali, were not of a nature to be soon forgotten. For the loss of a pashalik like Egypt had produced such an indelible impression, that it could not but hourly return to his mind, governed, as it was, by avarice, ambition, and “high disdain from sense of injured merit.”

Topal Pasha was an adept at dissimulation. He, therefore, laid aside all those laws of etiquette, to which Mussulmen attach even more importance than European grandees; he came in person on board Ibrahim’s ship; and exhibiting all the joy and delight, experienced by a father on meeting, after a
long absence, a beloved son, he embraced him with extravagant feeling; presented him with gifts of great value; and, knowing how sensible he was to the voice of self-love, assured him, that he had come to place himself and his fleet under his command; happy to be permitted to accompany his victorious steps.

His manner and fair words succeeded in imposing on Ibrahim so well, as completely to destroy the suspicions, he had entertained; and, in compliance with his desire, he consented, en passant, to assist him in taking Samos. This undertaking, he said, would be now but the affair of a few hours; obeyed as he should be by disciplined troops, and assisted at the same time by the talents of so consummate a general.

Ibrahim accepted the proposal the more willingly, as, aware of the disgraceful failure of Topal Pasha, a few weeks before, in his attempt against that island, his inordinate confidence and vanity, united to the utmost contempt for the enemy, induced him to think it would be an easy manner of proving the superiority of the Egyptian over the Constantinopolitan fleet and troops. The dauntless courage of the Greek sailors, however, their immense superiority in naval tactics, the losses their fire-ships had occasioned him, and the panic, which the effect of the whole had spread among his crews, and the excellent dispositions, taken by the Samiots to oppose an enemy’s landing, were sufficiently known to Topal Pasha; and these made him prognosticate, that the fate of Ibrahim would be equally unsuccessful as his own.

Three days after the reunion of the two fleets, while they were anchored off Cos (Stanchis) occupying a line, extending between Cape Pitezi and Halicarnassus, a detachment of the Greek fleet, composed of twenty sail and six fire-ships, under the orders of the Hydriot Vice-admiral Stactouri, and the Spezziot
Admiral, Androutzo, formed the design of entering (September the 6th) this narrow strait; persuaded, that if they could but succeed in attaching a fire-ship to one of the enemy’s vessels, the destruction of the whole would be inevitable. Perceiving three brulôts advancing straight upon his line-of-battle ship, the Capitan Pasha instantly cut his cables; and without even thinking of resistance, or firing a gun, hastened, terror-struck, to run out into the open sea; and seek shelter in the harbour of Halicarnassus (Boudroum).

A terrible engagement took place; and reflecting on the perilous position, in which the Greeks had so courageously placed themselves, exposed not only to the artillery of the Turkish men-of-war, but also to that of the fortresses; it seemed, that they were infallibly lost; especially as nothing was more practicable for the Egyptian ships, which had set sail, to shut them up in this strait. Their address, however, extricated them out of this danger; and in order to give the reader some idea of the almost incredible want of skill of Turkish artillery-men, it may be proper to add, that although they fired upwards of five hours almost incessantly on the Greeks, they succeeded only in destroying one Hydriot fire-ship, and wounding six men.

Four days after this, Ibrahim Pasha, who, during the action, happened to be on shore, perceiving the same Greek vessels, ordered his fleet to give them the chase. Having the wind against them, the Greek vessels were obliged to fly before the Egyptians, who began immediately to congratulate themselves on their triumphs; but the next morning, the wind having changed, they saw the Greeks preparing to attack them again; and although they fought more bravely by far than the Turkish fleet, yet they could not prevent the destruction of a brig and Tunisian
frigate of forty-four guns, with all their equipage and troops on board.

As soon as Stactouri was informed of the junction of the two fleets, which amounted to upwards of seventy-five sail, he hastened to communicate the news to Miaouli, the Hydriot admiral, who was then cruizing with his division off Souda, in expectation of the Egyptian fleet. This brave, indefatigable sailor came immediately, in all haste, to the assistance of his brethren. Their fleet was then composed of seventy-five ships, and ten brulôts. They congratulated themselves mutually on the blindness of their enemy, who, of his own accord, came to entangle his fleets and transports, in a sea where the navigation was so intricate, and so favourable to the employment of the only arm, the weakness of their small merchant brigs permitted them to use,—their fire-ships. Providence seemed to have delivered into their hands the enemy of Greece and Christendom. They mutually exhorted each other to behave with intrepidity; and to do their duty to their country, whose fate depended on their success.

Experience had taught them, that the Egyptian was not more formidable than the Turkish fleet; they trusted, therefore, they would render the efforts of the former against Samos, as fruitless as those of the latter had been. In conformity with their determinations, when a few days after Ibrahim prepared to effect a landing on that island, and had selected for that purpose his two best regiments, those of Courshid and Selim Bey; so many Greek vessels were seen advancing, that, at last, convinced of the rashness of undertaking any thing before the destruction of the Greek fleet had been effected, he hastily ordered his troops to re-embark; and, consulting his safety, sought the open seas. Pursued while in the waters
of Chio and Mytilene, by
Miaouli, the Capitan Pasha judged it expedient (on the 2d of October) to return to Constantinople, with fifteen ships; leaving the rest at Ibrahim’s discretion. In the mean time the Greeks’ brulotiers succeeded in burning a corvette, and brig, and in half destroying a frigate belonging to the Egyptian division.

It was not before the 9th of November, that Ibrahim departed from the port; but, before his arrival at Souda in Candia, several of the transports, having soldiers, horses, ammunitions of war, &c. fell into the power of the Greeks; who closely followed him during his voyage. They more than once attempted making use of their fire-ships; but were not, at this time, so fortunate as on other occasions. When in sight of Candia, a violent tempest arose, which so much dispersed his fleet that several ships were thrown on the coast of Egypt and obliged to return to Alexandria in order to repair the damage they had suffered. Others were wrecked; and the greater part were tossed, during several weeks, at sea, before they could reach Souda.