History of Europe

Karaiskakis:St. Vlasios 1823... First, serious battle &victory against the Turks

On December 31, 1823 the pasades Omer Bryonis and Kioutachis solved the siege of Messolonghi which had withstood all their attacks. The Turks moved towards Agrinio – then Vrahori. The Turks were facing a serious lack of supplies and were in a hurry to cross the Acheloos which due to the season was flooded.

Unable to cross the river with their heavy equipment and transports, the Turks detached 3,000 of their men under the Turkalvans Agos Vassiaris and Ismail Hatzibendo. The detachment's mission was to go to Preveza and collect food and supplies for the Turkish army.

Georgios Karaiskakis he learned about the Turkish detachment and decided to stop it by taking positions, together with 800 men, in the strait of Agios Vlasios of Etoloakarnania, in the position of Alonia Koromilias or Sovolakos. Until then, Karaiskakis had limited himself to limited action against the Turks, maintaining a waiting attitude, being a charioteer of the Agrafos.

On January 15 or 17, 1823, Karaiskakis and his men took positions on the ridge there . He himself took a position in the center of the Greek line with about 300. When the Turks arrived they asked him to leave the passage free. He as, pretending always , he told them that he considered them to be deserters from the Turkish army and that there was an agreement that no Turks would enter the wagon train of the Agrafs.

According to the testimony of Zacharias Stournaras, who took part in the battle, this battle took place on January 17 and before the conflict, Karaiskakis spoke to his men:"... and now we must all pray and offer a candle to St. Antonio who celebrates tomorrow to help us win. Now everyone make your cross and everyone in their place...

Hatzibentos, seeing the Greeks wanted to bribe Karaiskakis offering him tens of thousands of grand. Karaiskakis refused and the Turks advanced. Karaiskakis had ordered his men to hit the Turkish officers first. Hatzibentos then challenged Karaiskakis to a duel. The Turk shot first but missed. But Karaiskakis dropped him dead. Other sources state that it was Stournaras who killed the Turkish leader.

As Kasomoulis reports, the Turks then attacked with fury and forced the right and left horns of the Greeks to retreat. Only Karaiskakis remained steadfast in the center of the line-up. "Here let us all die" , Karaiskakis shouted and continued to fire furiously at the enemies. Seeing their leader endure and the retreating Greeks returned and attacked the Turks with fanaticism.

The Turks could not stand the Greek "yourousi". Over 200 Turks and Turkalvans were killed while the rest returned to Agrinio with their morale shattered. The Greeks had 20 dead, including Karaiskakis Bakoyannis' first lieutenant. Stournaras mentions seven Greek dead, six disappeared in the pursuit phase and 23 wounded, while raising the Turkish losses to 300 dead.

After the battle, the army of Omer Bryonis and Kioutachis was forced to cross the Acheloos, with the result that more than 500 of their men drowned and many transports were lost. The passage through which the army of the two passads passed was shown by the chief Gogos Bakolas . The Turks finally reached Amfilochia - then Karvasara - on February 8 and from there they crossed by ship to Preveza.

This was the first, essentially, battle and victory of Georgios Karaiskakis in the Revolution of 1821. This was also the biggest loss for the Greeks beyond the 700 Turkish and Albanian dead. He had won a great warrior and a strategic mind, but other factors did not allow him to be utilized properly.