LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of the Affairs of Greece
Chapter XXIX

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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Apathy and presumption of the Greeks—Ibrahim lands at Modon—Commits a great military error—Conduct of the Greeks.

On the 23d of November, Miaouli returned to Hydra with the greater part of the fleet, escorting the numerous transports he had succeeded in capturing, during his glorious campaign. The victories of the navy elated the Greek soldiers with a confidence in their own strength, and utter contempt for this new enemy; which seemed fully justified by the pitiful sight which the Egyptian prisoners exhibited. Worn out by sickness, the fatigues of so arduous a campaign on an element, they were utterly unacquainted with, naked, covered with vermin and foul cutaneous diseases, and terrified, they were seen in the streets of the different towns of Greece, shivering under the inclemency of a climate, which of itself might be considered a sufficient means of destruction to men, born on the burning banks of the Nile.

At the sight of such a complete picture of misery, the handsome and robust palichari could not but exclaim exultingly; “Are these those terrible warriors, which were to bind us in new fetters? Those, at whose very names we were to tremble? Let them but land! without boasting, even our women could destroy them with distaffs alone!”

So general was the security in which the Greeks lived, that although aware of the intention of Ibrahim to disembark his troops, at Modon and Coron,
they did not even think it worth their while, to send a corps of observation to Messenia. Their private quarrels had, moreover, so completely absorbed their attention, as to render them callous to a sense of their own danger. While their brethren, the Islanders, were so bravely and so nobly exposing their lives and property in the defence of Greece, they had been tearing her bosom by intestine dissensions, and wasting her strength by civil wars. Now that the hour of peril drew nigh, they displayed the most singular apathy, or spoke with a braggart assurance, which revolted the more, when it was seen, that want of patriotic feelings was its principal cause. The government itself took every measure to justify the hallucination of the Greeks; for as soon as the defeat of the rebel capitani was achieved, as if Ibrahim’s designs were not worth notice, the different Roumeliot capitani were directed to march to the very opposite extremity of Peloponnesus; there to prepare themselves for the siege of Patras;
Conduriotti, president of the executive body, having desired the honour of commanding this undertaking himself*.

* In corroboration of this statement, I deem it expedient to give the following extracts from the government newspaper, No. 99 and No. 103.

Anapli, March 4th.—The enemy, encamped at Modon, does not possess the forces, which common report supposes. Their numbers do not exceed four thousand. As soon as they perceived the troops of government, they ran to seek shelter within the fortress, without even firing a musket. The inhabitants of that district are alone amply competent to oppose them; and, on this account, many of the corps of troops, who happened to be there, have received orders to march towards Patras; as well as that of General Colliopoulo, and those of other capitani. The late events in the Messenian Gulf have been occasioned by the disorderly conduct of some Mainots; yet the enemy has taken only two of our men; and these are old men, who could not escape, when after landing he came to forage in the neighbouring villages.”


In the mean time, profiting by the moment, when the Greek fleet had by various motives been compelled to return home, Ibrahim sailed from Candia early in February; and about the 10th, O. S., (seven months after his departure from Alexandria) arrived without meeting with the slightest opposition before Modon; where he landed the regiments of Courshid and Hussein Bey, and about 1200 cavalry. He then sent the fleet back to Candia; in order to bring over the remaining part of his army; and the numerous transports he had left in the port of Souda.

Towards the middle of March, he had the satisfaction of seeing it return as safely as it had gone. His loss in men during his protracted and disastrous voyage, may be estimated at 5000*. His cavalry had been almost entirely ruined: besides those vessels, which were burnt by the Greeks, and of which mention has already been made, two others were wrecked

Anapli, February 19th.—Official news from the eparch at Nisi, dated the 16th instant, informs us, that Capitan Panagioti Cassonaco has entered the fortress of Neocastro. The Hellens hourly take Arab prisoners and horses; so that we trust, that ere long, they will, with God’s assistance, destroy them like so many earthen vessels. From the answers given by the prisoners, (one of whom is the chief groom of Ibrahim Pasha) it appears, that the Egyptians are much disappointed and disheartened. Their chiefs especially perceiving how fallacious Ibrahim’s assurances had hitherto been, complain that he made them, in order to delude them and bring them over to Peloponnesus. They repeat to one another, that they will all leave their bones in Morea in the same manner as their brethren, who accompanied the expedition of Dramali. The whole of Sparta, and the inhabitants of the neighbourhood of Modon and Coron (full of enthusiasm and regardless of pay) rushed in the encounter of the enemy. Men and women daily came down in the Greek camps, in order to make booty of the Egyptians, whom they look upon as objects of derision and sport.”

* The most conspicuous among the dead was Ismael Gibelattar, who died of retrocedent gout.

on the islands of Tino and Naxos; and about twenty transports were lost or fell into the hands of the enemy.

Happily for the Greeks, Ibrahim was not apprized, when he arrived in Peloponnesus, of the state, in which Navarino happened then to be; viz. as completely destitute of provisions and ammunitions of war, as when the Turks, constrained by famine, surrendered it in 1821. It had, notwithstanding the reiterated and urgent solicitations of its eparch, a feeble garrison of only one hundred and fifty men to defend it. Had the pasha entered the port with his fleet, there can be no doubt but the whole population would have fled precipitately; and he might, without firing a gun, have possessed himself of the fortress, and the fine harbour it commands. But even supposing, that resistance had been made, a few broadsides would soon have taught the Greeks the fruitlessness of their attempt.

After remaining two days at Modon, Ibrahim went in person to reconnoitre the neighbourhood of Neocastro and then proceeded to Coron. Led by its beys and inhabitants, who breathed vengeance against the Greeks, for the torments they had caused them during four years to endure, he ravaged all the country as far as Castelia, without meeting the slightest opposition.

On this occasion Ibrahim committed another military error, which caused general surprise. Instead of continuing his incursion into the immense plain of Calamata, at the entrance of which he had arrived; he suddenly ordered his troops to return to Modon. He might, without difficulty, have made himself master of Nisi, Androussa, Calamata, and the numerous large villages, at the foot of the small ridge of the Taygetus, extending between Scala and Cala-
mata. For no troops were at hand; and in a similar plain, five hundred Turkish horsemen, (so great and magical is the terror, which cavalry inspires among the Greeks), might have routed the largest body they could muster. The riches and booty, he might have gathered on this occasion, and the injury he would have inflicted, are incalculable. The inhabitants of this rich and populous district had not prepared for flight or resistance; so that he would have found all their wealth in their houses. This was considerable; for not only had not the din of war resounded in this happy plain, fertilized by the meandering Pamisus, or the industry of its population disturbed, by the convulsions of the revolution; but no part of the Peloponnesus afforded more valuable products. Silk, dry figs and raisins, delicious wines, oil, wax, and cotton, were annually exported in large quantities from Calamata; proving indeed a never-failing source of riches.

Profiting of the time, Ibrahim so injudiciously allowed them, the Greeks hastened to strengthen the garrison of Neocastro; to which place, thanks to the improvidence of the enemy, there was free access by sea as well as by land. Petro Mavromichali, formerly bey of Maina, was no sooner informed of the critical position of that fortress, than, ever the first in the service of his country, he ordered his two sons, George*

* There is not in Greece a young man more gifted by nature, and improved by education, than this son of Mavromichali. He unites to corporal beauty, truly Grecian, strength and manly grace, elegant manners, persuasive eloquence, couched in pure, harmonious language, wit, sound judgment, courage, and every quality, which captivates men. During his stay at Constantinople, where his father had sent him, as hostage to guarantee his allegiance to the Porte and the payment of the tribute for the province of Maina, he consecrated himself to the study of the ancient Greek, and of the Turkish language; and, by intercourse

Jani* immediately to march to its defence, with a corps of two hundred men. Tatraco† arrived from

with polished men, softened the asperity of his Spartan manners, without exchanging at the same time his native virtues for Fanariot effeminacy and duplicity. Of the numerous Peloponnesians I have met, no one had a more interesting conversation, reasoned more logically, or took a more correct view of the state of his country. He was decidedly in favour of a monarch, provided not a Greek—but a man chosen in Europe, whose virtues, strength of character, and liberal ideas were acknowledged; for he attributed all the disorders, that prevailed, since the revolution, to the want of a chief endued with superior force. Thus alone could light be elicited from the chaos, which involved the nation. Rendering justice to his merits, the senate appointed him, at the beginning of the revolution, one of the three deputies, whom they sent to the congress at Verona; in order to implore the protection of an alliance which, though holy, showed their love for Turks to be so strong as to prevent their feeling any compassion for the just complaints of Christians.

* Jani’s excess of courage proved the cause of his death, a few days after his arrival at Neocastro. Seeing the Turks beginning to raise their batteries, transported by his enthusiasm, he mounted on the rampart of the citadel, and waving his sword in a threatening manner, cried aloud: “Return to your country, ye blind Arabs! for what will you do here against Hellens, under the guidance of Mavromichali’s sons?” A Candiot sharp-shooter, who lay concealed in the chemin couvert, practised by the enemy, to approach nearer the fortress, fired his rifle and wounded him in the right arm. The bronchial artery was intersected; and as the Greek surgeons, who happened then to be at Neocastro, knew no means of effectually stopping the hemorrhage, this hopeful young man expired, a few days after. He was the third of his family, who since the revolution died in his country’s service.

† Tatraco and his brothers are the Machaons of modern Greeks; for, like the Homeric hero, they unite military to chirurgical skill; but, unfortunately, are as equally ill versed in the art of killing as they are in that of healing. Their name is derived from the word ιατρός, physician, and was given by the Turks to their family, in which the profession of surgeon had become hereditary. Their reputation in Peloponnesus was very great; and, indeed, they were held in so much consideration, by the Mussulmen of Mistra, that the unheard-of privilege was granted them of wearing arms, and riding on horseback. The disorderly state, in which

Mistra with two hundred;
Macrojani* from Arcadia with one hundred and fifty; Nicola Zavella† with the same number; Cranidiotti with one hundred; Jerasinio Phoca, Zirri an Argive Capitano, and a Bulgarian with about two hundred more. The Hydriot captain, Tsamado, entered the port with five sails; and

the province of Mistra and Bardounia continually lay, and the almost daily skirmishes between the Turks themselves and the Mainots, kept the Iatrachei in constant occupation. They practised surgery exactly as it was during its infancy; knowing not even the means of stopping an hemorrhage. They wash all gunshot wounds in all their extent with spirit; and cram them with dossils of lint, besmeared with an ointment, composed of the albumen of an egg and olive oil, beaten up together. Honey, turpentines, mastich, and resins, are the chief articles of their materia medica; and setons are in no case forgotten. A favourite remedy with them is wrapping up the wounded limb in the warm skin of an animal, recently killed, till putrefaction begins. So true is it that, naturam expelles furca, tamen usque recurret, I have seen cures, performed by them, which have actually astonished me!

What is not a little to their credit, they were the principal agents in raising the insurrection in this part of Greece; and they succeeded, the more easily, to deceive the Turks, as they enjoyed the consideration and friendship of the most conspicuous. The only mark of gratitude, the Mussulman received from them, was being allowed to take shelter in the walls of Tripolitza. Although, in imitation of the other capitani of Peloponnesus, they made themselves absolute chiefs of their province; and, not satisfied with the immense booty found in the houses, and on the persons of Mussulmen, they entirely absorbed the immense revenues of Mistra, the most productive district in Peloponnesus. Yet they never took up arms against government; but, on the contrary, loudly demanded the establishment of the law; and, with the more sober part of the nation, wished for a constitutional king.

* Macrojani (so denominated from his stature) had, through his bravery and enterprising and intriguing spirit, from a common soldier of Odysseus become general under Conduriotti’s government. He distinguished himself against the rebels, and subdued the Dredes, (peasantry occupying the mountainous districts near Arcadia) who are considered the best soldiers in Morca.

† A cousin of the brave Citzo Zavella.

brought to the fortress ammunition; and provisions were daily brought by Ionian boats, sent from Zante. The government sent, at the same time, a brother of the Vice-admiral Stactouri, as governor, and
Anagnostaras, the minister of war, to inquire into the wants of the garrison. Shortly after, Emmanuel and Demetri Callergi entered the fortress; the former at the head of a company of artillery, which from one hundred had, owing to desertions, dwindled to sixty men. The latter was accompanied by forty irregulars.

As soon as Ibrahim saw the whole of his army and provisions arrive, he advanced before Neocastro, which is only seven miles from Modon, and began erecting batteries on a slope of Mount St. Nicholas, which commands the fortress. He disposed his troops in such a manner, as to blockade it by land; but succeeded imperfectly in obtaining that end; for the position of Old Navarino, which was occupied by the Greeks, continued to serve as a key of communication with Peloponnesus. To prevent this, since it was impossible to take that perpendicular rock by force, had he been gifted with a more masterly military coup-d’œil, he would have placed a detachment of cavalry at Petrochori, with three companies of Arabs; and thus he might have blockaded with facility both Old and New Navarino at the same time.