Page:EB1911 - Volume 12.djvu/518

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493
GREEK INDEPENDENCE, WAR OF

quicklime, and took fire spontaneously when wetted—whence the name of wet fire or sea fire; and portions of it were “projected and at the same time ignited by applying the hose of a water engine to the breech” of the siphon, which was a wooden tube, cased with bronze.

See Lieut.-Col. H. W. L. Hime, Gunpowder and Ammunition, their Origin and Progress (London, 1904).

GREEK INDEPENDENCE, WAR OF, the name given to the great rising of the Greek subjects of the sultan against the Ottoman domination, which began in 1821 and ended in 1833 with the establishment of the independent kingdom of Greece. The circumstances that led to the insurrection and the general diplomatic situation by which its fortunes were from time to time affected are described elsewhere (see Greece: History; Turkey: History). The present article is confined to a description of the general character and main events of the war itself. If we exclude the abortive invasion of the Danubian principalities by Prince Alexander Ypsilanti (March 1821), which collapsed ignominiously as soon as it was disavowed by the tsar, the theatre of the war was confined to continental Greece, the Morea, and the adjacent narrow seas. Its history may, broadly speaking, be divided into three periods: the first (1821-1824), during which the Greeks, aided by numerous volunteers from Europe, were successfully pitted against the sultan’s forces alone; the second, from 1824, when the disciplined troops of Mehemet Ali, pasha of Egypt, turned the tide against the insurgents; the third, from the intervention of the European powers in the autumn of 1827 to the end.

When, on the 2nd of April 1821, Archbishop Germanos, head of the Hetaeria in the Morea, raised the standard of the cross at Kalavryta as the signal for a general rising of the Christian population, the circumstances were highly favourable. In the Morea itself, in spite of plentiful warning, the Turks were wholly unprepared; while the bulk of the Ottoman army, under the seraskier Khurshid Pasha, was engaged in the long task of reducing the intrepid Ali, pasha of Iannina (see Ali, pasha of Iannina).

Another factor, and that the determining one, soon came to the aid of the Greeks. In warfare carried on in such a country as Greece, sea-girt and with a coast deeply indented, inland without roads and intersected with rugged mountains, victory—as Wellington was quick to observe—must rest with the side that has command of the sea. This was assured to the insurgents at the outset by the revolt of the maritime communities of the Greek archipelago. The Greeks of the islands had been accustomed from time immemorial to seafaring; their ships—some as large as frigates—were well armed, to guard against the Barbary pirates and rovers of their own kin; lastly, they had furnished the bulk of the sailors to the Ottoman navy which, now that this recruiting ground was closed, had to be manned hastily with impressed crews of dock-labourers and peasants, many of whom had never seen the sea. The Turkish fleet, “adrift in the Archipelago”—as the British seamen put it—though greatly superior in tonnage and weight of metal, could never be a match for the Greek brigs, manned as these were by trained, if not disciplined, crews.

The war was begun by the Greeks without definite plan and without any generally recognized leadership. The force with which Germanos marched from Kalavryta against Patras was composed of peasants armed with scythes, Outbreak of the insurrection. clubs and slings, among whom the “primates” exercised a somewhat honorary authority. The town itself was destroyed and those of its Mussulman inhabitants who could not escape into the citadel were massacred; but the citadel remained in the hands of the Turks till 1828. Meanwhile, in the south, leaders of another stamp had appeared: Petros, bey of the Maina (q.v.) chief of the Mavromichales, who at the head of his clan attacked Kalamata and put the Mussulman inhabitants to the sword; and Kolokotrones, a notable brigand once in the service of the Ionian government, who—fortified by a vision of the Virgin—captured Karytaena and slaughtered its infidel population. Encouraged by these successes the revolt spread rapidly; within three weeks there was not a Mussulman left in the open country, and the remnants of the once dominant class were closely besieged in the fortified towns by hosts of wild peasants and brigands. The flames of revolt now spread across the Isthmus of Corinth: early in April the Christians of Dervenokhoria rose, and the whole of Boeotia and Attica quickly followed suit; at the beginning of May the Mussulman inhabitants of Athens were blockaded in the Acropolis. In the Morea, meanwhile, a few Mussulman fortresses still held out: Coron, Modon, Navarino, Patras, Nauplia, Monemvasia, Tripolitsa. One by one they fell, and everywhere were repeated the same scenes of butchery. The horrors culminated in the capture of Tripolitsa, the capital of the vilayet. In September this was taken by storm; Kolokotrones rode in triumph to the citadel over streets carpeted with the dead; and the crowning triumph of the Cross was celebrated by a cold-blooded massacre of 2000 prisoners of all ages and both sexes. This completed the success of the insurrection in the Morea, where only Patras, Nauplia, and one or two lesser fortresses remained to the Turks.

Meanwhile, north of the Isthmus, the fortunes of war had been less one-sided. In the west Khurshid’s lieutenant, Omar Vrioni (a Mussulman Greek of the race of the Palaeologi), had inflicted a series of defeats on the insurgents, recaptured Levadia, and on the 30th of June relieved the Acropolis; but the rout of the troops which Mahommed Pasha was bringing to his aid by the Greeks in the defile of Mount Oeta, and the news of the fall of Tripolitsa, forced him to retreat, and the campaign of 1821 ended with the retirement of the Turks into Thessaly.

The month of April had witnessed the revolt of the principal Greek islands, Spetsae on the 7th, Psara on the 23rd, Hydra on the 28th and Samos on the 30th. Their fleets were divided into squadrons, of which one, under Tombazes, was deputed to watch for the entrance of the Ottomans into the archipelago, while the other under Andreas Miaoulis (q.v.) sailed to blockade Patras and watch the coasts of Epirus. At sea, as on land, the Greeks opened the campaign with hideous atrocities, almost their first exploit being the capture of a vessel carrying to Mecca the sheik-ul-Islam and his family, whom they murdered with every aggravation of outrage.

These inauspicious beginnings, indeed, set the whole tone of the war, which was frankly one of mutual extermination. On both sides the combatants were barbarians, without discipline or competent organization. At sea the General character of the war. Greeks rapidly developed into mere pirates, and even Miaoulis, for all his high character and courage, was often unable to prevent his captains from sailing home at critical moments, when pay or booty failed. On land the presence of a few educated Phanariots, such as Demetrios Ypsilanti or Alexander Mavrocordato, was powerless to inspire the rude hordes with any sense of order or of humanity in warfare; while every lull in the fighting, due to a temporary check to the Turks, was the signal for internecine conflicts due to the rivalry of leaders who, with rare exceptions, thought more of their personal power and profit than of the cause of Greece.

This cause, indeed, was helped more by the impolitic reprisals of the Turks than by the heroism of the insurgents. All Europe stood aghast at the news of the execution of Turkish reprisals. the Patriarch Gregorios of Constantinople (April 22, 1821) and the wholesale massacres that followed, culminating as these did in the extermination of the prosperous community of Scio (Chios) in March 1822. The cause of Greece was now that of Christendom, of the Catholic and Protestant West, as of the Orthodox East. European Liberalism, too, gagged and fettered under Metternich’s Europe and the rising Philhellenism. “system,” recognized in the Greeks the champions of its own cause; while even conservative statesmen, schooled in the memories of ancient Hellas, saw in the struggle a fight of civilization against barbarism. This latter belief, which was, moreover, flattering to their vanity, the Greek leaders were astute enough to foster; the propaganda of Adamantios Coraës (q.v.) had done its