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On the sixth of April, the insurrection had spread to the narrow territory of Megaris, situated to the north of the isthmus. The Albanian population of this country, amounting to about ten thousand, and employed by the Porte to guard the defiles of the entrance into Peloponnesus, raised the standard of revolt, and marched to invest the Acrocorinthus. In the Messenian territory, the Bishop of Modon, having made his guard of Janissaries drunk, cut the whole of them to pieces; and then encamping on the heights of Navarin, his lordship blockaded that fortress. The abruptness of these movements, and their almost simultaneous origin at distances so considerable, sufficiently prove how ripe the Greeks were for this revolt as respected temper; and in other modes of preparation they never could have been ripe whilst overlooked by Turkish masters. That haughty race now retreated from all parts of the Morea, within the ramparts of Tripolizza.
In the first action which occurred, the Arcadian Greeks did not behave well; they fled at the very sound of the Moslem tread. Colocotroni commanded;
the Macedonian. They are, and ever have been, robbers by profession; robbers by land, pirates by sea; for which last branch of their mixed occupation they enjoy singular advantages in their position at the point of junction between the Ionian and Egean seas. Το illustrate their condition of perpetual warfare, Mr. Gordon mentions that there were very lately individuals who had lived for twenty years in towers, not daring to stir out lest their neighbors should shoot them. They were supplied with bread and cartridges by their wives; for the persons of women are sacred in Maina. Two other good features in their character are their hospitality and their indisposition to bloodshed. They are in fact gentle thieves - the Robin Hoods of Greece.
and he rallied them again; but again they deserted him at the sight of their oppressors; "and I," said Colocotroni afterwards, when relating the circumstances of this early affair, "having with me only ten companions including my horse, sat down in a bush and wept."
Meantime, affairs went ill at Patrass.
Pacha, having been detached from Epirus to Eubœa by the Serasker, heard on his route of the insurrection in Peloponnesus. Upon which, altering his course, he sailed to Patrass, and reached it on the fifteenth of April. This was Palm Sunday, and it dawned upon the Greeks with evil omens. First came a smart shock of earthquake; next a cannonade announcing the approach of the Pacha; and, lastly, an Ottoman brig of war, which saluted the fort and cast anchor before the town.
The immediate consequences were disastrous. The Greeks retreated; and the Pacha detached Kihaya-Bey, a Tartar officer of distinguished energy, with near three thousand men, to the most important points of the revolt. On the fifth of May, the Tartar reached Corinth, but found the siege already raised. Thence he marched to Argos, sending before him a requisition for bread. He was answered by the men of Argos that they had no bread, but only powder and ball at his service. This threat, however, proved a gasconade; the Kihaya advanced in three columns; cavalry on each wing, and infantry in the centre; on which, after a single discharge, the Argives fled.*
*It has a sublime effect in the record of this action to hear that the Argives were drawn up behind a wall originally raised as a defence against the deluge of Inachus.
Their general, fighting bravely, was killed, together with seven hundred others, and fifteen hundred women captured. The Turks, having sacked and burned Argos, then laid siege to a monastery, which surrendered upon terms; and it is honorable to the memory of this Tartar general, that, according to the testimony of Mr. Gordon, at a time when the war was managed with merciless fury and continual perfidies on both sides, he observed the terms with rigorous fidelity, treated all his captives with the utmost humanity, and even liberated the women.
Thus far the tide had turned against the Greeks; but now came a decisive reäction in their favor; and, as if forever to proclaim the folly of despair, just at the very crisis when it was least to have been expected, the Kihaya was at this point joined by the Turks of Tripolizza, and was now reputed to be fourteen thousand strong. This proved to be an exaggeration; but the subsequent battle is the more honorable to those who believed it. At a council of war, in the Greek camp, the prevailing opinion was that an action could not prudently be risked. One man thought otherwise; this was Anagnostoras; he, by urging the desolations which would follow a retreat, brought over the rest to his opinion; and it was resolved to take up a position at Valtezza, a village three hours' march from Tripolizza. Thither, on the twenty-seventh of May, the Kihaya arrived with five thousand men, in three columns, having left Tripolizza at dawn; and immediately raised redoubts opposite to those of the Greeks, and placed three heavy pieces of cannon in battery. He hoped to storm the position; but, if he should fail, he had a
reason for still anticipating a victory, and that was the situation of the fountains, which must soon have drawn the Greeks out of their position, as they had water only for twenty-four hours' consumption.
The battle commenced: and the first failure of the Kihaya was in the cannonade; for his balls, passing over the Greeks, fell amongst a corps of his own troops. These now made three assaults; but were repulsed in all. Both sides kept up a fire till night; and each expected that his enemy would retire in the darkness. The twenty-eighth, however, found the two armies still in the same positions. The battle was renewed for five hours; and then the Kihaya, finding his troops fatigued, and that his retreat was likely to be intercepted by Nikitas (a brave partisan officer bred to arms in the service of England), who was coming up by forced marches from Argos with eight hundred men, gave the signal for retreat. This soon became a total rout; the Kihaya lost his horse; and the Greeks, besides taking two pieces of cannon, raised a trophy of four hundred Moslem heads.
Such was the battle of Valtezza, the inaugural performance of the insurrection; and we have told it thus circumstantially, because Mr. Gordon characterizes it as "remarkable for the moral effect it produced;" and he does not scruple to add, that it "certainly decided the campaign in Peloponnesus, and perhaps even the fate of the revolution."
Three days after, that is, on the last day of May, 1821, followed the victory of Doliana, in which the Kihaya, anxious to recover his lost ground, was encountered by Nikitas. The circumstances were peculiarly brilliant. For the Turkish general had
between two and three thousand men, besides artillery; whereas Nikitas at first sustained the attack in thirteen barricaded houses, with no more than ninety-six soldiers, and thirty armed peasants. After a resistance of eleven hours, he was supported by seven hundred men; and in the end he defeated the Kihaya with a very considerable loss.
These actions raised the enthusiasm of the Morea to a high point; and in the mean time other parts of Greece had joined in the revolt. In the first week of April an insurrection burst out in the eastern provinces of Greece, Attica, Boeotia, and Phocis. The insurgents first appeared near Livadia, one of the best cities in northern Greece. On the thirteenth, they occupied Thebes without opposition. Immediately after, Odysseus propagated the revolt in Phocis, where he had formerly commanded as a lieutenant of Ali Pacha's. Next arose the Albanian peasantry of Attica, gathering in armed bodies to the west of Athens. Towards the end of April, the Turks, who composed one fifth of the Athenian population (then rated at ten thousand), became greatly agitated; and twice proposed a massacre of the Christians. This was resisted by the humane Khadi; and the Turks, contenting themselves with pillaging absent proprietors, began to lay up stores in the Acropolis. With ultra Turkish stupidity, however, out of pure laziness, at this critical moment, they confided the night duty on the ramparts of the city to Greeks. The consequence may be supposed. On the eighth of May, the Ottoman standard had been raised and blessed by an Tman. On the following night, a rapid discharge of musketry, and the shouts