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Greek War of Independence: The Unsung Heroes

Greek War of Independence
“Karaouli” (“The Watch”) by Theodoros Vryzakis, showing a scene from the Greek War of Independence. Public Domain

The Greek War of Independence had many heroes. The first names that come to mind are Kolokotronis, Karaiskakis, Papaflessas, Bouboulina, Diakos, and Kanaris, among others.

The next things that spring to mind are the heroic battles at Gravia Inn, Alamana, Valtetsi, Dervenakia, Navarino.

Yet the 1821 Greek Revolution had many unknown heroes who fought alongside the legendary ones, or fought in their own battles for liberation from the Ottomans.

Some of them are honored, having streets named after them or statues in their birthplace. But many Greeks today have no idea where the name of this or that street comes from. It’s time that was rectified.

Lampros Veikos (1785-1827)

Born in Souli, this warrior was the son of Veikos Zorbas. He led the army of 3,000 Roumeliotes to aid the besieged city of Missolonghi.

Along with being one of the protagonists in the siege of Missolonghi, he was the man Resid Mehmet Pasha (Kutahi) negotiated with in the surrender of the city.

Kutahi asked Veikos to mediate for an agreement with the besieged, but Veikos gave him a resounding “No.”

After the heroic Exodus of Missolonghi, in which thousands of Greeks died or were captured and enslaved, Veikos fought in the battles of Attica, and was killed in the battle of Analatos in 1827.

The Greek state, to honor his memory, gave his family land in the area of ​​today’s Veikos Grove in the Athenian municipality of Galatsi and named streets after him.

Ioannis Gouras (1791-1826)

Ioannis Gouras, along with a force of 400 men, marched to the outskirts of Amfissa on March 27, 1821 and attacked the city.

The Greeks managed to capture Amfissa, forcing the Turks to entrench themselves in the citadel, then surrender after a 10-day siege.

In 1822 he was appointed guardian of Athens and in 1825 the general commander of Eastern Central Greece. He was tragically killed during the siege of the Acropolis by Kutahi in October 1826.

Hatzigiannis Mertzellos, or “Sofikitis” (1791-1860)

Born in 1791 in Sofiko, Corinth, Mertzellos left for Magnesia in Asia Minor at 18, where he became a wealthy businessman.

He was initiated into the Filiki Eteria secret society of revolutionaries and devoted himself to the nation’s struggle for liberty. When the revolution finally got under way, he left Magnesia and led the army in Sofiko.

With his own money, Mertzellos equipped his army and declared that he was joining the Revolution in Corinth on March 31, 1821. On April 1st, he attacked Acrocorinth and held the city until January 14, 1822.

In the summer of 1822, under order of Nikitaras, he fought the troops of Dramali Mahmud Pasha in Metochi of Faneromeni in Agionori, where he showed remarkable bravery.

“Sofikitis” fought in many battles and in 1825 the Corinthians made him lieutenant general. After the liberation he went back to farming his land. He died in an impoverished state in 1860.

Yiannakis Ragos (1790-1870)

Ioannis Ragos started his revolutionary activity as an armatolos, fighting in the first phases of the Greek War of Independence (1821-1825) mainly in battles in Etoloakarnania and Epirus.

Ragos also took part in action in the Peloponnese against the army of Ibrahim. In 1822 he was the leader of the campaign in Thessaly and the brother-in-arms of Georgios Karaiskakis.

After being appointed a General, he fought bravely in the second siege of Missolonghi. He saved Messolonghi in 1824, for which he was granted the pass of Agrafa.

Nikolaos Kasomoulis (1795-1870)

Kasomoulis joined the Filiki Eteria in 1820 in the region of Serres. Following the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, he joined the uprising in the region of Mount Olympus and Chalkidiki.

He fought with chieftain Diamantis Nikolaou. Following the suppression of the revolution in Macedonia, Kasomoulis went to Thessaly with a band of men from Siatista.

There, Kasomoulis joined the forces of Nikolaos Stournaris and Georgios Karaiskakis. In 1826 he took part in the Third Siege of Missolonghi, along with his brothers Dimitrios and Georgios.

Kasomoulis was responsible for coordinating the actions of the various detachments participating in the exodus. During the sortie, his brother Dimitrios was mortally wounded.

Christodoulos Hadjipetros (1799-1869)

Christodoulos Hadjipetros, who came from a noble family, offered his services in the third siege of Missolonghi and the heroic exodus from the city.

He had enlisted a corps of soldiers he commanded and maintained exclusively out of his own pocket, with expenditures amounting to more than 1 million grosis at the time.

In 1854, Kong Otto entrusted Hadjipetros with the command of the campaign in Thessaly. After the king’s expulsion he accompanied Otto to Bavaria, but returned to Greece later.

King George appointed him his honorary lieutenant. Hadjipetrou later died of a stroke in Athens on October 29, 1869.

Mitropetrovas (1745-1838)

Mitros Petrovas, better known as “Mitropetrovas,” was the Messinian chieftain and one of the leaders of the anti-government uprisings during the Bavarian regency.

As a chieftain, he organized the uprising in Messinia, siding with Theodoros Kolokotronis, of whom he was a guardian after the death of his father, Constantinos.

In May of 1825 he took part as a General in the operations against the army of Ibrahim, showing remarkable strategic skills and bravery.

After the liberation, he was sentenced to death for rebelling against the Bavarian regency. However, his sentence was not carried out due to his contributions to the country during the 1821 Revolution.

Michalis Korakas (1797-1882)

Korakas was one of the most important exponents of the Great Cretan Revolution. When the uprising on the island was suppressed in 1825, he moved to mainland Greece.

Korakas and his men continued to battle the Turks in the Peloponnese and Central Greece, fighting alongside Karaiskakis at the Battle of the Acropolis.

Upon his return to Crete, he continued his struggle against the Ottomans, but this time as a pirate, attacking Turkish ships in the Aegean.

For his service, Korakas was decorated with the Bronze Cross of the War of Independence and received the rank of captain.

He continued to fight until old age.

Korakas took part in dozens of battles throughout eastern Crete and also remarkably fought in the Cretan Revolution of 1878, despite the fact that he was already over 80 years old at the time.

Tsamis Karatasos (1798-1861)

The son of the Macedonian armatolos, Anastasios Karatasos, took up arms in 1822 in the Veria Revolution.

The most important chieftain of Macedonia, he took refuge in Evia and the Sporades when the Macedonian uprising was suppressed by the Turks.

Karatasos continued to fight for Greek Independence wherever he was needed, before spending the month of August 1828 in eastern Central Greece.

After the establishment of the Kingdom of Greece, Karatasos became a supporter of Otto. After the founding of the Greek State, Karatasos continued to fight for the liberation of Macedonia.

Stamatis Rozakis (1785-1861)

Stamatis Rozakis, or “Rozos,” was born to a noble family in greater Bardounochorion, in Laconia.

He was a member of the Filiki Eteria and, as he wrote himself, he fought in the battle to take over Tripolitsa in 1821, where two of his relatives fell.

The next year Rozakis fought against the army of Dramali Mahmud Pasha in the Peloponnese, and then took part in the siege of Nafplio, at the Messinian Fortress, and in other battles as well.

In 1823 Rozakis was named a Brigadier and he continued to fight the Turks until Greece was free. In 1837 he was honored with a silver medal by the new Greek state for serving the cause of liberation.


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