The events before the battle
The pasha of Ioannina Alis Tepelenlis defected and by the order of the Sultan was being closely besieged at Ioannina by numerous Turkish troops since July 1820. Pasombeys was initially the commander in chief and later Hoursit. Then, Ali for his own interest called for help the Souliotes, who were at that time in exile in Corfu, and promised them the eternal freedom of their country.
After the defeat and the death of Ali Pasha (24-1-1822), Omer Vryonis by the order of Hoursit attacks Souli with the force of 14.000 Turk-Albanians. Souliotes couldn’t resist anymore due to lack of food and ammunition and so they asked for the help of the government of Mavrokordatos. It was decided, then, by the government to send foot soldiers through Arta under the command of Al. Mavrokordatos. On 4th July 1822, close to Peta of Arta, Mavrokordatos’ forces that moved by land were utterly annihilated.
The landing of the Maniot troops at Splantza and the relevant battle
It was immediately decided to supply to the besieged ones food and ammunition. This difficult and of great importance mission was taken over, in the middle of June, by Kyriakoulis Mavromichalis with 500 compatriots from Mani along with Ioannis Rozikotsikas and men from Mesologi. Aiming to help the besieged Souliotes at Kiafa, he moved to Mourtou’s port, where due to his unexpected actions many Turks were captured and sent to Peloponnese.
In the meantime, though, he was asked by the English commissioner at Eptanisa Thomas Maitland to move away from these waters, which were in the area of Parga, which was an English occupation. He was forced, then, to move and to occupy Splantza at the river mouth of Acheron (Kalama) and chose for a base the Church of Agia Eleni. The preparation for the first dash launched, but his actions were made known to the Turks because of treachery. For this reason, in the morning of 16th July 1822, almost 4000 Turk-Albanian horse riders, experienced and skilled in battles within swamps (as is the specific one near the mouth of Acheronta), under the command of Moustafabey of Tripoli, they attacked without warning against the Greek military camp. The battle started and went on really fiercely. The warriors who surrounded Kyriakoulis had their locations near the customs station and effectively fought off the attackers and caused them big losses. The Turks at the sunset after being disillusioned got defensive locations in the area Valanidorahis, planning to impede any movement towards Kiafa. In one of his exits from the entrenchments, where according to tradition he appears to have massacred six Aghas, in his effort to capture their commander, Mavromichalis was heavily wounded and fell. There was a bloody battle around him until his lads managed to pull him back inside again. However, after the defeat in Plaka and Peta and the retreat of Markos Botsaris, the fortress of the Maniots was surrounded by all the Turkish army. Consequently any further resistance was impossible.
For this reason, Kyriakoulis having distributed all the guns to his companions advised them to mind only their salvation and escape, while he started bleeding from his wounds he crawled to the big rampart to die in front of the enemy right at the moment when the Turks were planning to attack again. The remaining besieged Maniots, especially warriors, after the loss of their commander realized their weakness for replenishment and so they boarded on their ships and embittered returned to Mesologi with the mortal remains of their captain who was buried with full military honours at Mesologi. The death of the hero inspired the popular muse the song
“Petrobeys was sitting high at Petrovouni
and wiped his eyes with a golden handkerchief.
-Why are you sad and spread your tears bey?
Since you are asking me Kyriakaina and want to know
Tonight I had letters from Mesologi
Kyriakoulis was killed, the first lad
And my eyes drip and black tears run”
In the memory of the heroic sacrifice of the Maniots, there is outside the Holy Church of Agios Nicolaos Pargas a stone in the shape of the book which symbolizes the history and has on the back the date (1822) and at the front the following:
MAVROMICHALIS KYRIAKOULIS FELL HERE
16th JULY 1822
*Splantza (Italian word which means beach, coast, which today means sandy coast) is the name of place which became the witness of the heroic sacrifice of the hero from Valtetsi Kyriakoulis Mavromihalis.