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Battle of Dervenakia Area Today

A map of the area around the battle positions

Battle of Dervenakia summary

The Battle of Dervenakia (Greek: Μάχη των Δερβενακίων) was the Greek victory over the Ottoman forces on 26–28 July 1822, an important event in the Greek War of Independence.

  1. Dramali passed through the narrow defile known as the Dervenaki (Tretos) and on 24 July reached Argos, whence the Greek government had fled. He left no guards behind him in the Dervenaki and he posted no forces where other defiles exposed his flanks.
  2. On arriving in Argos, he found that its citadel, Larissa, was manned, and that the Ottoman fleet, with which he had planned to rendezvous with the Ottoman fleet at Nafplion, was actually at Patras.
  3. Dramali launched an attack on the citadel. The Greeks, under Demetrios Ypsilantis, held out for twelve days, before lack of water forced them to sneak out past the Ottoman lines in the middle of the night. However, while Dramali was preoccupied with Larissa, the Greeks rallied their forces.
  4. The Greek general Kolokotronis pursued a scorched earth policy, aiming at starving the Ottomans out. The Greeks looted the villages, burned the grain and foodstuff they could not move, and damaged the wells and springs. Dramali's army was trapped in the sweltering Argolic plain.
  5. On 26 July Dramali dispatched an advance guard consisting of 1,000 Muslim Albanians to occupy the passes. These troops, who were either mistaken by the Greeks for cobelligerents or deliberately allowed to pass, got through entirely unharmed.
  6. A body of Dramali's cavalry which was following up to occupy the Dervenaki was intercepted by Nikitaras at the village of Agios Vasilis and was routed, a victory which gained for Nikitaras the name of 'Turk-eater' (Turkofagos). Very few of the Ottoman delhis (light cavalry) managed to escape, most of them had lost their horses and, as they tried to make their way on foot up the ravines of the mountains, they were almost all intercepted by small Greek bands or shot down by individual marksmen from concealed positions.
  7. Two days later (28 July), Dramali attempted to evacuate his main forces by way of the route through Agionori. Here he came up against the Greeks under Papaflessas who was holding the main defile (Klisoura). Unable to proceed, he soon found himself assailed by Nikitaras and Ypsilantis who made a forced march from their positions at the village of Agios Vasilis and at Agios Sostis.
  8. Although Dramali himself with the main troop of delhis managed to force his way through and finally reach Korinthos, the Greeks captured all the baggage and the military chest, and they annihilated almost completely the unmounted personnel of Dramali's army.
  9. But no sooner had they achieved victory than they dispersed: the Moreots hastened to return to their villages taking with them such animals and other booty on which they had been able to lay their hands. Had they been less intent on booty, they might have totally annihilated Dramali's army.