1821: THE BATTLE AT KARYTAINA, 4 DAYS AFTER THE LIBERATION OF KALAMATA

After the liberation of Kalamata (23.3.1821) the military council disagreed on the military operations that would follow. Petrobeys wanted the operation to go on with the siege and occupation of the Messinian fortresses, such as Koroni, Methoni and Niokastro at Navarino. Kolokotronis believed that the main target should be the occupation of the administrative and military center of the Ottoman administration, that is to say, Tripolitsa, in order to boost the Fight. Since, he didn’t have the troops, he took from his close friend Panagiotis Mourtzinos who could not come with him since his son Dionysios was seriously ill,  300 fighters from his operations body headed by his nephew Panagiotis Troupakis-Boukouvaleas, a keen fighter. Kolokotronis with this troop headed inside Peloponnese having with him Papaflessas and Nikitaras. On the way, he was informed about the precipitate flight of the Turks at the area of Fanari (Olympia) Ilia, who were afraid of the Greek rebellions of the area and were planning to go to Tripoli with their belongings in order to protect themselves inside the walls. Although the Turks were heading through the road that goes from Andritsaina to Tripoli, the small team of the Maniots with Kolokotronis took the hill of Agios Athanasios above the road, a little bit out of Karytaina. On the 17 March there was the first battle of the Fight. When the Ottomans of Karytaina, got informed about the arrival of the Greek army, got afraid and locked themselves up in the castle.

They were 300 like Leonidas’ men and they confronted 1800 Turks at the strait of Agios Athanasios in Karytaina. The Turks see that the straits are occupied. They are all well armed, they defend their lives and fight vigorously. This is the first gun shooting of 1821. The Maniots fight heroically. They revive after many centuries the old glory of their military virtue. They fight without arms, standing like beasts. Kolokotronis will not forget their courage, so he says in his narrative that “Maniots fought a war and imitated the 300 men of Leonidas”. They strike the Turks at the front. At the back there are men from Andritsaina headed by Christopoulos. Plapoutaioi arrive, too. The Turks try desperately to double their furry.

Kolokotronis screamed himself hoarse, when he saw the unexpected help, whereas in the meantime there were more coming. He attacks the Turks from the front and the gun is fiercer. The Turks are amazed, so more come out from the castle of Karytaina to help them. The Greeks strike back, the Turks helpless, get killed attacked by all sides, so 500 souls died. Horses and loot were taken by the Greeks. The victory smiles at them at the beginning of the battle. From Kolokotronis troop, two men fall heroically. One of them is Petros Faseas, the son in law of Panagiotis Troupakis and his first lad. “Petros Faseas was killed at the first collision of the military Body of the Maniots with the Turks at Karytaina. He became non-commissioned officer 2nd Rank (Record No 4597 “Δίπτυχον της Εθνεγερσίας” V. Patriarcheas, page 729) he was killed during the first battle of the Revolution. Two more were wounded, Voidis and Dourakis. The Turks had more than 200 men killed in the battle. (Panagis Troupakis-Boukouvaleas the leader of the military body of Maniots became Major after the recommendation of Kolokotronis who gave credit to his work and great contribution to the Struggle. In his file, which is inside the archive of the Fighters of the National Library it shows that when he retired he had become a chiliarch). However, the ammunition of the Maniots ran out, so they have to fight with the stones of the hill. The reinforcement with another military troop headed by Elias Mavromichalis gives new boost to the battle. The Ottomans fall back and attempt to cross the bridge. Those who don’t drown at Alfeios River (almost 500 drowned) lock themselves up in the castle. They can stand the siege but lack food, so they inform with messengers the Turks in Tripoli who send powerful reinforcement. The Greek troop retreats and the besieged ones move inside the walls of Tripolis to have the same end with the rest of the people of the same religion, after a few months when it fell.

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