Battle of Mouzaki
|Battle of Mouzaki|
In Western Thessaly, agitations had started without the official involvement of the Hellenic Army, but a committee of Greek Officers had been secretly sent so as to coordinate with local guerrilla bands the harassment of Ottoman troops.
The headquarters was installed in Loutro Karditsas, under the overall command of Artillery Colonel Konstantinos Ischonomachos, aided by Captains Georgios Filaretos and Ioannis Igglesis.
Guerrilla warfare was already endemic in the area against Turks and Albanians. By the beginning of March 1878, the local chieftain Thanassis Ziakas and his band of Agraphiote brigands had revolted in the villages of Vounista, Granista and Mesenikola.
Both groups gathered together and directed an attack on the village of Mouzaki, which was a strategic point in the region, key to obtaining food and water. In addition, it was the opportunity to draw Ottoman troops from the large cities into the countryside.
The news about these events, and the fact that there was a considerable population of Turkish landlords and Muslim Albanians in danger soon reached Trikala, where the authorities sent a detachment of troops under Moussa Gkeka so as to recover the village and suppress the rebellion.
For the Greeks, it was a vital opportunity to defeat a major enemy, therefore troops from the regular Greek Army were deployed in order to support the irregulars. The Ottoman troops seemed not to expect to face any other forces than a gang of klepths as they have been used to do for years, so their strength was reduced to light cavalry and infantry troops.
As a result, the Ottomans were taken by surprise and completely defeated by much stronger and better-equipped Greek troops under Lieutenants Georgios Alexandris and Takis Stournaris on 4 May 1878. The Turks suffered heavy losses, and Gkeka himself was taken prisoner.
The minor victory at Mouzaki was a morale boost for the rebels, but it did not change reality on the ground: the Ottomans soon stamped out the rebellion, while Greece was pressured by the Great Powers to remove support of the rebels. In the end however, Thessaly would be incorporated into the Greek kingdom in 1881.
- Douglas Dakin "The unification of Greece, 1770-1923", pg.129
- William Kinnaird Rose: "With the Greeks in Thessaly" Elibron Classics. 2005 - Adamant Media Corporation, pg.50
- Romilly Jenkins “The Dilessi Murders – Greek Brigands and English Hostages", Prion Books 1981, pp. 34-36
- Ellis Ashmead Bartlett: "The Battlefields of Thessaly: with Personal Experiences in Turkey and Greece" Elibron Classics. 2005 - Adamant Media Corporation