The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Missolonghi

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The American Cyclopædia
Missolonghi
Edition of 1879. See also Missolonghi on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

MISSOLONGHI, or Mesolonghi, a town of Greece, capital of the united nomarchy of Acarnania and Ætolia, 24 m. W. of Lepanto, on the N. side of the gulf of Patras; pop. about 6,000. It stands in a level plain 18 m. long and 4 m. broad, watered by the Achelous and Evenus, and extending from the base of Mt. Aracynthus to the gulf. The walls are washed by the sea, but the water is so shallow that nothing larger than a small fishing boat can approach nearer than 4 or 5 m. Missolonghi is the most important strategical point of western Greece, and is famous for the sieges it has sustained. In 1804 it fell under the dominion of Ali Pasha. In 1821 it joined in the revolt against the Turks, and on Nov. 5 Mavrocordato and Marco Bozzaris threw themselves with 400 men into the place, which was almost deserted and scarcely defensible, the fortifications consisting only of a low and ruinous wall, without bastions, and a small ditch in many places filled with rubbish. With only 14 old guns and scanty ammunition, Mavrocordato made a brilliant defence for more than two months against a Turkish army of 14,000. On Nov. 23 the Greeks succeeded in throwing in reënforcements by sea, and the Turks were compelled to raise the siege, Jan. 6, 1823. The town was then fortified under the direction of English officers, at the expense of an Englishman named Murray, and became one of the strongest places in Greece. From September to December, 1823, Missolonghi was blockaded for 59 days by the Turks, who besieged the neighboring Anatolico, and was defended by Constantine Bozzaris, until relieved by Mavrocordato. Lord Byron reached Missolonghi Jan. 5, 1824, and died there April 19. The last and greatest siege of Missolonghi began in April, 1825, when Reshid Pasha invested it with a large army, which was reënforced in July by the arrival of a powerful fleet, and in January, 1826, by Ibrahim Pasha with an army of 20,000 Egyptians. The garrison of 5,000 Greeks, commanded by Noto Bozzaris, made a desperate defence, repulsing repeated assaults, and, though suffering terribly from want of provisions, refused to capitulate, notwithstanding repeated offers of the most favorable terms. When continual bombardment had reduced the town to a heap of ruins and the last of their food had been consumed, at midnight of April 22, 1826, the garrison, placing the women in the centre, sallied forth in a body, and cutting their way through the Turkish camp gained the mountains, to the number of about 2,000. Those who were too feeble to join in the sortie assembled in a large mill which was used as a powder magazine, and when the Turks entered the town blew themselves up together with a large number of the enemy. The town has been rebuilt of late years, but the fortifications are decayed. Marco Bozzaris is buried here, and a statue in white marble, presented in 1835 by the French sculptor David, has been erected over his grave. Near this monument is a mound of earth with an inscription commemorative of other victims of the war. Byron's remains were conveyed to England, but his heart, which was deposited in a silver box in a mausoleum erected to his honor, was lost in the confusion of the sortie of 1826.