On May 8, 1821, a defining battle in the Greek War of Independence took place at Gravia, a village in the northeastern part of Phocis.
The Greek leader, Odysseas Androutsos, with a group of 120 men at Gravia Inn, repulsed an Ottoman army numbering 8,000 men and artillery under the command of Omer Vrioni. The battle ended with heavy losses for the Ottomans and minimal casualties on the Greek side.
The Ottoman army under the command of Omer Vrioni, following his defeat of the Greeks at the Battle of Alamana and the brutal torture and execution of their leader Athanasios Diakos, planned to attack the Peloponnese with an army of 8,000 men.
However, his army was met by Androutsos and his men who had barricaded themselves inside an old inn.
As soon as Vrioni ordered the attack, a detachment of Albanian soldiers charged the building. As they entered the building they were met by a barrage of gunfire.
The Albanians were forced to retreat under heavy fire and suffered many casualties from the concealed Greeks.
Androutsos had trained his men to fire by a European method; one group of his soldiers would fire in unison, while another group would reload their guns to fire in turn and so forth. This method was the best way to repel any kind of massive attack, so the following Ottoman assaults also met a barrage of fire and were forced to retreat.
At night, while the Ottoman army paused their attacks to bring up some cannons in order to bombard the inn, the Greeks escaped the inn and found safety in the mountains before the cannons arrived.
Greek victory at Gravia forced Ottomans to retreat
The casualties suffered by Vrioni were heavy, with 300 soldiers dead and 600 wounded in a couple of hours of fighting, while the Greeks had only six countrymen dead. Androutsos earned the title of Commander in Chief of the Greek forces in Central Greece.
This battle is considered important to the outcome of the Greek revolution because it forced Omer Vrioni to retreat to Euboea, leaving the Greeks to consolidate their gains in the Peloponnese and capture the Ottoman capital of the Peloponnese, Tripoli.
Androutsos, however, was accused a few years later of collaborating with the Ottomans. The revolutionary provisional government placed him under arrest in the Frankish Tower of the Acropolis of Athens.
The new commander, Yannis Gouras, who once was Androutsos’ second in command, ordered his execution on June 5, 1825.
Gouras didn’t give him a fair trial, believing that Androutsos, due to his democratic character, could turn the people against the Government.
The Greek War of Independence, which began in 1821, resembles the stuff of legend.
Despite all odds, the outnumbered, poorly-armed Greeks fought against the Ottomans, an entire empire with a standing army which had conquered a large part of Europe and Asia Minor.
Enslaved for almost four centuries, Greeks finally said “no more” and launched an attack against the all-powerful Ottomans.
“Freedom or Death” was their motto and indeed, many gave their lives to liberate Greece and establish the modern Greek state.