ON the first day of January, 1822, the Greeks declared
themselves independent. For some time past they had
been discontented with Turkish rule. They had rebelled
more than once, and at this time had driven the Turks
out of the Morea.
Great sympathy was felt for them throughout Europe,
especially by those who had read the history and knew
the books of ancient Greece.
Fighting went on for some years. The Greeks won some
victories, but they were not a match for their enemies.
In May 1827, Athens, which had been captured by the
patriots five years before, was compelled to surrender
to the Turks. Then England,
 France, and Russia joined together to bring about
peace, more readily because the Turks carried on the
war in the most savage fashion. But the Turks refused
to come to terms, and made a great effort thoroughly to
subdue the rebels, as they called the Greeks. For this
purpose they collected a fleet of seventy men-of-war of
at Navarino, a harbour on the western side of the
Morea. This fleet was under the command of Ibrahim
Pasha, eldest son of Mehemet Ali, Viceroy of Egypt.
Early in September the Russian squadron joined the
fleets of England and France, and the three admirals
sent a message to Ibrahim to this effect—"We are
instructed from home to prevent any further fighting
between the Turks and the Greeks, and we desire you to
do your best to carry this out." Ibrahim appeared to
consent, and an armistice, that is, a stay of fighting,
was concluded till an answer should come from the
Sultan at Constantinople. But Ibrahim did not mean to
keep his word. No answer was expected for twenty days,
but at the end of a week the Egyptian squadron stole
out of the harbour of Navarino, intending to carry on
the war elsewhere. The English admiral sailed after it,
and, though he had only three ships with him,
 compelled it to come back. No satisfactory answer was
received from the Sultan, and the three admirals made
up their minds to blockade the Turkish fleet in the
harbour of Navarino. No one supposed that Ibrahim would
venture to resist.
THE BATTLE OF NAVARINO.
In the afternoon of October 20 the combined fleets
sailed into the harbour. The Turks, on seeing them,
began to prepare for battle, though they were not by
any means all of one mind. The Egyptian admiral, for
instance, who may have remembered, or possibly seen,
the battle of the Nile, declared that he would not
fight. Their fleet was arranged in the shape of a
crescent; so large was it that the horns of this
crescent nearly surrounded the ships of the three
Allies. These latter had strict orders not to fire a
gun, unless the Turkish ships should first fire on
them. But if this were to happen, then they were to set
to work in real earnest, for the admirals' orders ended
with a famous message once sent by Nelson to the
captains of his fleet—"No captain can do wrong who lays
his ship alongside one of the enemy."
The Turks began the fighting, for they fired upon a
boat which had been sent with a message to a Turkish
fire-ship, which the Allies thought to be dangerously
near. An English and a French ship returned the fire,
and then sent parties of their crews to board the
fire-ship. They were just about to do this when it was
 blown up. Next an Egyptian frigate poured a broadside
upon the Dartmouth, one of the British ships.
The men in the rigging hurried down to the deck, and
the captain called to them, "Now, my men, down to the
main-deck, and fire away as fast as you can."
The English admiral, still anxious to avoid, if
possible, a general battle, sent his pilot to the
Turkish commander for an explanation. But the enemy
fired upon the boat and killed the messenger. On this
the admiral poured one broadside on a Turkish and the
other on an Egyptian ship. Both were reduced to mere
wrecks; but as they swung aside they made way for a
second line of the enemies' ships. These all opened
fire, and in a few minutes more the battle became
general, and the whole harbour was covered with ships
fiercely engaged. And while some of the enemies' ships
were still fighting others were burning, while, from
time to time, first one and then another blew up with a
terrible explosion. As soon as an enemy's ship became
disabled its crew set fire to it.
For nearly four hours the battle went on, for, as I
have said, it was past two o'clock when it began, and
the sun had set before it was finished. Of all the
seventy Turkish ships only one frigate and seventeen
smaller vessels remained fit to put to sea. All the
others had been knocked to pieces, sunk, or burnt. The
loss of the Turks was terribly great, for the ships
 were crowded with men, and the fire of the Allies was
so well directed that it made dreadful havoc among
them. It was reckoned afterwards that between five and
six thousand Turks and Egyptians perished at Navarino.
Strange stories are told of the carelessness of the
Turks about their own men. When the battle was over,
the English admiral sent to the Turkish commander
offering him any help that he might want. There had
been terrible slaughter among his men. Hundreds of
corpses had been thrown overboard, and the deck was
strewed with wounded. Some Turkish officers were
smoking and drinking coffee. "We don't want any help,"
said one of them to our admiral's messenger. "But,"
said the Englishman, "shall not our surgeon attend to
"No," replied the Turk, "wounded men want no help; they
The English loss was about 140 in killed and wounded,
that of the French a little more.
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