THE MARCH 1821 WAS MANIOT

The ship with the guns from Smyrna

The driving force for the launch of the Revolution was the distribution of arms to those who would take part in the revolt. For this reason, the Friends’ Society arranged both the supply and transfer of arms by ship to Kardamyli (Skardamoula). Coordinator of this action in communication with the Friends of Smyrna was the Friend Archimadrite Grigoris Dikaios (Papaflessas). Actually, the ship arrived in Kardamyli on 17th March and immediately, they informed at the Mardaki monastery (in Nedousa, Alagonia) Anagnostaras and Nikitaras to receive part of the arms and to distribute them according to the orders of the Friends’ Society. The load would be transferred by 200 armed men with 250 animals  which would carry the military material. The ship was guarded by Maniots headed by Ioannis Katsis Mavromihalis, the brother of Petrobey, who was contacted by the chieftains for the transfer of the arms on the animals. He asked, though, for a written order by his brother who was in the neighbouring Kitries, so the chieftains asked him to write on a simple piece of paper to the guards of the arms to give him a small quantity of powder and lead in order to fill their gun cases. However, due to the illiteracy of the guards they were given the right to take as much weaponry as they and their animals could carry through Jiannitsa (Elaioxorio) to Mardaki Monastery, inside Taygetus where it was considered to be a safe place. Nevertheless, there was still left on the ship the fourfold quantity from the one loaded for Mardaki for the equipment of the Maniots.

Restlessness at the Ottoman officials of Kalamata

This is what happened in the night of 18th March and at dawn and the transporters hadn’t crossed yet the area close to Kalamata so as to become visible. The Ottoman chief of Kalamata, who saw the large number of animals and realized the escort of armed men, wanted to know what was happening. The information given to him by the people under his service was that the animals carried oil whereas the armed men who accompanied them had taken measures for any possible attack from robbers. He wasn’t reassured by the explanations, so he prepared his departure from Kalamata with only a few guards and those who had the public authority in the area. Forerunner of this departure an Ottoman called Murat, tried to leave independently with his family. After he disobeyed Nikitaras’ order, who with 200 armed men guarded the road to Tripoli via Thouria, to stop, he died on the field. When the chief found out about it locked himself on 21st March in his fortress along with his guard.

Accepting the proposition of the Friends’ Society expressed by Papaflessas for the launch of the revolution on 25th March, Panagiotis Mourtzinos and Theodoros Kolokotronis who was hosted by him in Kardamyli, Anagnostaras, Papaflessas, Panagiotis Kefalas, Petrobey Mavromihalis’ sons with his brother Ioannis (Katsis) and 2000 armed men all arrived in Kalamata on 22nd March. The night of the 22nd and 23rd March, 5000 Maniots headed by Panagouleas, Galanis and Athanasoulis from Koumoundourakis family, Dimitrios Kalamas, Adreas Koumoundourakis, Antonios Michael Troupakis, Dimitrios Konstantineas, Stavrianos and Jeorgios Kapetanakis, Christeas, Kyvelos, Kitriniarides, Dimitrios Poulikakos, Lazaros Tsolakis, Theodors Mesiklis, Sasarianoi, Dimitrios Karakitsos, Theodoros Krenidis and Panagiotis Xanthos Giatrakos, all came to Kalamata. Also many others from Messini, Androusiani and Garantzei with Mitropetrova, Oikonomopoulos and Emmanouil Dariotis, Pisinochorites and Sampaziotes from Leontari.

The first contact of the Ottomans with the chieftains

When the chief found out about the entrance of the chieftains with their troops in the city, he ordered Bouloukbasi (political commander) whose name was Kokkinis to go to the camps of the chieftains and to ask for explanation for the collection of troops. They offered him just a simple chair and gave him the speech. He said: “Agha sends his greetings and wants to know what is this you are doing. With these actions you will miss the generosity of the Sultan and there won’t be a good outcome”. Nikitaras who was sitting close to him prepared his gun, but Theodoros Kolokotronis rushed and said to the Ottoman officer, “Bouloukbasi come close to me so as to listen what you’re saying”. After he sat close to him, Petrobeys Mavromihalis took the speech and said: “ We listened to what you said on behalf of your agha. What you see is not klepht work, but the real things; and they are not just ours but also of God and the kings. Because the Greeks have suffered till now from your tyrannies and tortures. We are not like you, though, tyrants and persecutors of humanity and we will not touch you. But you can stay at your houses and your business undisturbed and give two coins for each family per year and no cold wind will hit you.” Anagnostaras went on: “Go to your agha and tell him what we told you and within three hours we want you to surrender your arms, because if you disobey we will take your heads off with the swords and then it will be your fault.”

The surrender of the guns and the town

After realizing that any resistance would be hopeless, the Ottomans notified the Greeks that they surrender in their honour, faith and bravery. The acquisition and recording of the guns and the rest of the mobile things was done by an eight-member group of chieftains, whereas the Ottomans of Kalamata were divided in 4 buildings wherefrom, after a few days they were transferred to Mani and towns of Messinia. The guns were distributed to those who were unarmed, whereas the supplies were sealed up in the warehouses to be used for the troops.

After the surrender of the Ottomans as well as the chief of the city and the area Suleiman Agha Arnaoutoglou, the next day the chieftains called the clergy of the area, which consisted of 24 priests and monks to say the doxology. The doxology and pray for the launch of the struggle for the faith and the country were chanted with tears of joy and satisfaction by 6000 soldiers, civilians and also women and children who were gathered at the river bed of the city.

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