Battle of Peta

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Battle of Peta
Part of the Greek War of Independence
Bataille de Peta-fr.svg
Map of the Battle of Peta
Date 16 July 1822 (4 July Julian calendar)
Location Peta, Epirus, Greece
Result Ottoman victory
Belligerents
Greece Greek revolutionaries and Philhellenes  Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Alexandros Mavrokordatos
Markos Botsaris
Karl von Normann-Ehrenfels
Omer Vrioni
Strength
2100 troops (regulars and irregulars) and 93 Philhellenes[citation needed] 7000-8000 troops[citation needed]
Casualties and losses
68 Philhellenes and 200 regulars dead
the number of irregular casualties is not known
many prisoners[citation needed]
Unknown

The Battle of Peta or Battle of Petta was fought between the Greeks (with Philhellenes) led by Alexandros Mavrokordatos with Markos Botsaris and the Ottomans led by Omer Vrioni on July 16, 1822 (July 4 Julian calendar). The conflict occurred on a hillside near the village of Peta in Epirus.[1]

Background[edit]

After the Souliotes defeated the forces of Khourshid Pasha in May and June 1822, they joined Prince Alexander Mavrocordatos who landed at Missolonghi with a contingent of Greek regulars. At the same time, however, Khourshid Pasha surrendered command of the Ottoman forces in Epirus to the Albanian general Omer Vrioni.[2] Joining the Greeks were one battalion of German, Polish, Swiss, French and Italian philhellene volunteers with Karl von Normann-Ehrenfels, formerly of the Wurttemberg army, serving as Mavrokordatos's chief of staff.[3] Several of the Italian, German and French philhellenes were veterans of the Napoleonic wars and who trained a battalion of Greeks to fight in the Western-style of war.[4] The philhellenes were far from united and in a duel a German shot a Frenchman dead.[5] One French philhellene Jean-François-Maxime Raybaud reported: "It was unimaginably difficult to train the men in the harsh and precise details of service in the ranks, in strict discipline and in the advantages of systematic instruction, when these men were Europeans of a generally difficult temperament and different in their habits, education, language and weapons".[6] Mavrokordhatos's force of about 2, 000 men, both regular and irregular were outnumbered by the Ottoman force of 10, 000 Turks and Albanians.[6] Mavrokordhatos placed his men on two ridges to the west and east of the village of Peta, which stands on a low hill at the beginning of a coastal plain.[7] On the higher ridge to the east of the village were placed Greek forces under Gogos Bakolas on the right, forces commanded by other captains Varnakiotis and Vlachopoulos in the middle while Markos Botsaris were on the left.[8] On the western and lower ridge were the philhellenes with the Greek regulars under the Italian captain Taralla in the middle, volunteers from the British protectorate of the Ionian islands on the right and the philhellenes under the Italian Dania on the left.[8] Bakolas and Botsaris were old enemies, both being rival klephts (bandits) and Mavrokordhatos wanted to keep the two rivals as far as apart as possible as the two men hated on another.[8]

Battle[edit]

The Greek forces were encamped at Peta in Arta when a force of 7000-8000 Ottoman troops attacked their positions.[9] The Ottomans advanced before dawn in a crescent formation with 600 horsemen charging on the right towards the western ridge.[8] The Ottoman cavalry were surprised that no fire was returned, and only when they reached within a hundred feet of the ridge, did the philhellenes and the Greek regulars return fire, bringing down a lethal rain of bullets that cut down the Ottomans, who not used to fighting a disciplined opponent in Greece.[10] Over the next two hours, the Ottomans charged and charged again against the ridge, and were beaten off with heavy losses every time.[11] On the north of the eastern ridge, Albanian irregulars attacked, but were initially repulsed by Bakolas's men.[12] During the conflict, the Greeks and Philhellenes were betrayed by Gogos Bakolas, an old klepht and captain of the armatoloi.[2] According to some accounts, Bakolas deliberately left his right flank unguarded and made no effort to fire upon the Albanians as they advanced on his right flank. When the Albanians scaled the ridge, Bakolas ordered his men to retreat and the Albanians made no effort to attack him as Bakolas had agreed before the battle to betray his own side. With the Albanians on the upper ridge, the other Greek forces were driven off.[12] Once the eastern ridge was in Ottoman hands, the Ottoman seized the village of Peta and then attacked the Greek forces on the western ridge from behind.[12] Attacked from both sides, the forces on the lower ridge were overwhelmed with most of the philhellenes and Greek regulars, who were now disorganized and out of formation making a desperate last stand against the Ottoman cavalry who cut them down without mercy.[11] Bakolas's treachery resulted in the overall defeat of the Greeks.

Aftermath[edit]

At the end of the conflict, the entire Philhellenes' Battalion suffered massive casualties.[1] Of the philhellenes killed included both the Italian officers Dania and Tarella and the overall losses were 67 philhellenes killed, of whom 34 were German, 12 Italian, 9 Polish, 7 French, 1 Dutch and 1 Hungarian.[13] Despite Botsaris's brave efforts, he was forced to flee to Mesolonghi with Prince Mavrocordatos.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Emden, Christian and Midgley, David R. Papers from the Conference 'The Fragile Tradition' (Volume 2). Cambridge, 2002, ISBN 3-03910-169-2, p. 108. "The battle of Peta, one of the few actual field battles between the Greeks and the Turks in the War of Independence, was fought in 1822 on a hillside near the Epirote village of Peta and resulted in the large-scale and traumatic defeat of the Philhellenes' Battalion."
  2. ^ a b c Knight, Charles. Biography: Or, Third Division of "The English Encyclopedia" (Volume 1). Bradbury, Evans & Co., 1866, pp. 886-887. "On the taking of Jannina and the death of Ali in February 1822, the Souliotes continued the war on their own account, and being attacked by Khourshid in their mountains, they defeated him with great loss in May and June of that year. Khourshid at last quitted Epirus, leaving Omer Vrioni in command there, while at the same time Prince Mavrocordato landed at Mesolonghi with a body of regular troops in the Greek service, and being joined by Bozzaris advanced towards Arta. This movement led to the battle of Petta, on the 16th of July 1822, which the Greeks and Philhellenes lost through the treachery of Gogos, an old Kleftis and captain of Armatoles. Bozzaris, after fighting bravely, was obliged to retire with Mavrocordato to Mesolonghi."
  3. ^ Brewer, David The Greek War of Independence, London: Overlook Duckworth, 2011 pages 146-147
  4. ^ Brewer, David The Greek War of Independence, London: Overlook Duckworth, 2011 pages 146.
  5. ^ Brewer, David The Greek War of Independence, London: Overlook Duckworth, 2011 page 148.
  6. ^ a b Brewer, David The Greek War of Independence, London: Overlook Duckworth, 2011 pages 148.
  7. ^ Brewer, David The Greek War of Independence, London: Overlook Duckworth, 2011 pages 149
  8. ^ a b c d Brewer, David The Greek War of Independence, London: Overlook Duckworth, 2011 pages 149.
  9. ^ Army History Directorate (Greece), Hellenic Army General Staff (Greece). An Index of Events in the Military History of the Greek Nation. Hellenic Army General Staff, Army History Directorate, 1998, ISBN 960-7897-27-7, p. 397. "4/7/1822 19. The Battle of Peta. A force of 7,000-8,000 Turks attacked the Greek regular army and irregular units which were encamped in the village of Peta in Arta..."
  10. ^ Brewer, David The Greek War of Independence, London: Overlook Duckworth, 2011 pages 149-150.
  11. ^ a b Brewer, David The Greek War of Independence, London: Overlook Duckworth, 2011 pages 150
  12. ^ a b c Brewer, David The Greek War of Independence, London: Overlook Duckworth, 2011 pages 150.
  13. ^ Brewer, David The Greek War of Independence, London: Overlook Duckworth, 2011 pages 150-151.

External links[edit]