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Naming of Ypsilanti (continued)

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Rights Held By
Ypsilanti Historical Society
OCR Text

Continued from last issue.

Naming of Ypsilanti continued:

The news of the outrage reached Ypsilanti and the Turkish fleet at the same time. The latter weighed anchor and fled; the former. disgusted and disheartened, made a movement as to quit the Peninsula entirely. He hesitated, turned again, and marched to Tripolitza.

The chiefs received him sullenly; the soldiers greeted him with enthusiasm. Tripolitza was a sorry sight. Ypsilanti had looked forward to its capture as a time when confusion should cease, and order and discipline begin. Its riches were to form a national treasure and the place become the seat of the free government. He found a ruined city; everything of value gone; the streets clogged up with rubbish and dead bodies; his own soldiers rapidly growing fewer as they sneaked away to their homes in conceal their spoil. However, Ypsilanti resolved to make the best of a bad beginning. He sent a call to all the People to send their best men to Tripolitza, formally to declare their independence and to form a government.

The city as set to rights as well as could be but it was thought wiser to assemble the Patriots in Argos. thither they came from all parts of the excited land and from the neighboring islands, and on New Year's Day, 1822, set their names to their declaration of independence which announced their liberty in these words:

“In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen. Page 17 is missing.

men in Christian lands to sell them ships and arms and annunition to be used in destroying the spirit of freedom. Therefore, the sultan was able to buy improved firearms, modern cannon and frigates, cruisers and men of war as good as any European Nation had in her navy. What could Ypsilanti do in opposition to this equipment? His countrymen were poor; his young government had no credit; Men might admire him and name towns after him but admiration was one thing and Turkish ships-of-the-line another. However, Ypsilanti made the most of his time and marched at once upon the city of Corinth which was held by Turkish Troops and guarded the entrance to the Peninsula by land. He gained possession of this fortress and was thus of great service to the Grecian cause, for this government at once made this ancient capital its seat.

Though Ypsilanti had no means of buying vessels for a Grecian navy, he had countrymen whose skill as sailors and whose dashing audacity upon the sea was incomparable. If you look upon the map, you will observe that every part of Greece was near the sea. Great gulfs extend into the land; hundreds of islands lit about the coast and far out in the Mediterranean. The inhabitants of these parts are almost all sailors. The boys learn to get about upon the water as soon as upon the land. Every young man hopes to own a vessel and all the well-to-do middle aged men are captains and owners of swift, grateful trading ships that cruise to all parts of the Black and Mediterranean Seas. So it was in Ypsilanti's day, and, though the young country owned not a single ship, there were scores of Patriot captains who gave the services of themselves, their men and their vessels to the common cause. One of these was the modest amd quiet Kamaro, who played the Turkish fleet a trick that made his name known all over the world.

The Sultan sent his great squadron southwest from the Golden Horn in command of Captain Pasha. There were seven line-of-battle ships and twenty-five frigates. The first town attacked was the beautiful city of Solo, situated on an island of the same name. Captain Pasha gained possession of it but did nothing for three days. What representatives of foreign nations were there held a council with the Turkish commander and, on the strength of his promises, urged the Greeks to trust to him. Many who had planned to escape returned to their homes. Captain Pasha assured them that mercy and protection would be given. When nearly all had returned, he ordered his soldiers first to bring the inmates of a monastery out into the public square and to butcher them one by one before the people. After this, the soldiers pushed among the defenseless inhabitants and hacked down all they could find. A few hours of this terrible outrage sufficed to change Solo from the beautiful city of the sea to a smoking ruin, a foul slaughter house. the villages upon the island were treated the same way. the land resounded with the shrieks of the dying. It was left a barren smoking, waste. The news spread into Samos, Nicarin and the neighboring islands; terror seized the inhabitants, watchmen upon the heights looked anxiously out to sea, fearing the advent of the merciless destroyers. Now came an event that thrilled the whole world. There was, in Hydra, the captain of a trading vessel we have named before, Kenaris was his name. He was a short, slender, well formed man of mild, retiring disposition, a good hearted fellow and honest as the day. He came to Ypsilanti and discussed the situation with him. He calmly declared that he was willing to try to burn enough of the ships of the enemy to compel Captain Pasha to cease his work of slaughter. The offer was eagerly accepted. Kenaris took a swift ship; he took all her valuables on shore and daubed her insides with pitch and sulphur, he filled her with light, dry, kindling wood and shavings. Under each hatchway he placed a keg of powder. He had the rigging well sheared with tar and he fastened powerful hooks to the end of each yard arm. This kind of a fire ship. which the Greeks called a Brulet, they became most expert in handling before the war was over, by means of them they were able to strike terror to the Turkish sailors.

On such a ship Kenaris set out in company with, a fast sailing vessel. He fell in with a Turkish look-out ship in the neighborhood of Scio, but it could not sail well enough to match his. As soon as it was dark he came up to the mouth of a gulf in which lay anchored the proud fleet of Captain Pasha. Kenaris prepared to sail in but his crew became impressed with the risks they were running and begged him to wait until he could find the fleet in open waters. Before them they saw the long line of lights on the Turkish vessels: behind them they felt the wind blowing them straight into the narrow bay. To enter such a death trap seemed to them the greatest folly. It was a moment of supreme trial to the little Kenaris. “See Here”, he said to the murderers, “you came here of your own accord. You knew that you weren't coming to a little girl's birthday party. Now. this ship is going in; you can come along if you dare; if you don't dare, jump overboard!” The quiet little man had silenced them; they were ashamed of their fears and returned to their stations. In through the narrow straits, between the sullen rocks, they glided, the Turkish lights growing larger as the ship approached. At first they came up to some frigates, anchoreded. These were game too small for the Greek. He sailed along the line until he came up to the huge ship of the Captain Pasha, Kenaris sailed straight for her. “Keep away! Keep away! cried the Turkish guard; but the little ship came on. The enemy began to fire; While sleeping Turks awoke and rushed on deck; the wildest confusion raged. Amidst the whistling shot, while the men crouched behind the bulwarks, Kenaris ran his shipalongside until the hooks upon his yard arms caught the rigging of the enemy. Quick as thought her crew had scrambled into the small boat at their vessel's stern, Kenaris having taken a lamp out of its hiding place, lit a torch, laid it on a train of powder, and leaped into the small boat, “Long live Greece and liberty”, he cried, as his men bent to their oars with a will. The train of powder sputtered along the deck of his ship and reached the casks, with a loud report they flew into a thousand pieces, setting fire to the combustibles in the hold. They blazed up into one massive sheet of flame. To the highest stay the flames ran up the starry rigging while the wind, blowing across the Turkish ship communicated the fire to every part of her. Her sails and cordage were all ablaze, her guns began to go off. Her complement of twelve hundred men trampled over one another in trying to escape. The Captain Pasha and some officers succeeded in getting a boat lowered. By cutting off the hands of the swimmers who clung to her he got a little way from the ship, when the blazing main mast came hissing down upon him, crushing him to death and every soul in his boat. Thus perished Captain Pasha. the wolf of Solo, while the Intrepid Kenaris, with his sturdy oarsmen, pulled rapidly down the strait and escaped upon the Greek ship waiting for them outside.

Compounded by this daring attack the fleet put to sea in great disorder. After some time they came to anchor off the island of Tenedos. While here they were attacked at night a second time by Kenaris in another fireship. He picked out the largest vessel in the fleet, the one occupied by the new commander; he grapped her upon the windward side and, firing the train escaped with his crew. The Turkish ship was entirely destroyed with almost all her men. She drifted upon other ships and burned them also. The fleet, without orders and in the greatest confusion put to sea. The ships seemed without guidance. Tempetuous weather did them great damage, and this, with the sailors' fear of fiery Kenaris, drove them quickely home to Constantinople. Thus closed the naval campaign from which Mahaoud, the Butcher, had hoped for great results. Let us next see what became of the two fine armies that he sent against Ypsilanti and his friends.

Now one of the plans for the subjugation of Greece came to nought through the daring of Ypsilanti's sailor friend Kenaris, the boys and girls who read the last paper, remembered. Let us see what became of the two armies Mahaoud sent against the south country.

One came down the west coast and tried to get into the Peninsular way of the Messalonghi, but the brave and daring Marco Bozzarie kept harrassing the invaders to such an extent that they accomplished very little of their object.

The other army came down the east coast, determined to sweep all before them, to enter the Peninsular by the Isthaus of Corinth, which Ypsilanti had taken possession of, and, retaking their old capital, Tripolitza, to reestablish Turkish border, burning towns and killing the inhabitants, leaving a wide track of fire and blood behind them. No resistance could be made, the villages were inhabited by peaceful citizens. Many of these towns received no news of the invasion until the tramp of horses and the yells of Turks arose upon the quiet air. The savage butchers galloped into the town, waving their bloody scimetars and firing their pistols, killing everyone they met, burning all the houses and carrying away every thing of value. They cut off the ears of all the corpses and, packing them in boxes of salt, sent them back to the sultan as a report of their doings in Greece. Thus, killing and burning, they drew near to the Island of Corinth. You will remember that Ypsilanti had captured the fortress here and turned the city over to the new Greek government for its capital. But the authorities had not taken pains to have the place garrisoned properly and so this strong position fell into the hands of the invaders. At once the government awakened to their danger: the whole pennisula seemed almost in the hands of the enemy. They abandoned the unimportant work they had sent Ypsilanti to perform and implored him to save the nation.

It was then that Ypsilanti achieved the success that gave him his greatest fame; that made him the most famous man of his time; that made his name familiar to the distant settlers of Woodruff's Grove, Washtenaw County, and decided then to name the new village that they founded higher up the river, Ypsilanti. The alarm spread through the Penninsula, “The Turks are upon us! To Arms!” Ypsilanti gathered his men upon the plain of Argos through which the Turks had to march to reach the Plain of Tripolitza. He burned or carried off all the crops and everything that could have been of use to the enemy. All told he had an army of three thousand men; the Turkish General Drami Pasha, commanded thirty thousand. There was a fortress in the Plain that had been built by the Venetians in the distant days of their possession. With three hundred men Ypsilanti took possession of it, while his other troops retreated to the hills to await events. Next day the Turkish force marched out upon the Plain. The Pasha saw the little fort upon the hill and sent up a messenger, demanding its surrender upon pain of being attacked by the whole army. Ypsilanti had provisions for only three days but he put a bold face to the matter. He took empty baskets and barrels and filled them up with dirt, spreading grain and other food on the top, so that it appeareed that there was a great supply of provisions there, enough to keep his men for many months. He set up the old and useless cannon of the fortress so that it appeared a formidable place; he hung under clothes of all his men while they themselves were in plain sight, so that one would think a large array of men were sleeping in the barracks in addition to the ones awake outside. Then he let the messengers of the Pasha come in and laughed at them when they proposed that he surrender. Next day the Turks attacked him, but he drove them back; the next day and the next he did the same. They were afraid of him and his supposed large company. At length his water supply gave out and his provisions failed. At night he stole down with his little band and, creeping among the vines, fired several volays into the enemy and escaped to the hills. Then every night with his audacious mountaineers, the chief dropped down among the Turks and worried them exceedingly. The enemy could not determine how large a force they had to fight against; they could not use their cavalry in the night; they seemed dazed and helpless in their darkness and confusion. In this state Ypsilanti drove them to take refuge in the Valley of Argos, and almost immediately afterwards drove them out and himself took possession of this important position. Now, the turks began to feel in the want of food. The crops had been all taken from the plain, the very size of the army was against it; thirty thousand men and all their horses to be fed each day made a serious affair. The water, too, was poor, and many men became incapacited for active work by diarrhose and allied distresses. The soldiers began to murmer at their captains. “Where”. said they, “is the rich spoil of the south that you have promised us? shall we remain here to starve to death or die of fever or be picked off one by one like crows before the hunter's gun?

“Let us go home!” “Let us go home!”. Drami Ali Pasha saw the desperate condition of his army and resolved to retreat to Corinth and to make a stand there until he could become in better circumstances to complete the subjucation of the Peninsula. He gave the order to retreat. From their position in the village Ypsilanti and his men saw horses and camels and baggage wagons and men crossing the Plains toward the Passes of the north, sending a brave commander since that day as Niketas, “the Turk Eater”, to get pssission of the rocks about the Pass, Ypsilanti, with all his men, fell upon the retreating army with great fury. The Turks pressed northward through the narrow Pass, above which rise the rocks and mountains, steep as the sides of a wall. All was silent as if a peaceful Sabbath Day were blessing the beautiful scene. When the Pass was filled with Turksih men, suddenly, at a given signal from every rock and tree on each side of the Pass, sprang out a hardy Greek, they rained a fiery storm of land upon the crowded mass below; they rolled huge boulders down the slopes. the rocks went crashing down upon the struggling victims. Not a shot was lost, not a stone fell down but what a dozen men were crushed beneath it. Sll this time the Turks, pressed from the rear by Ypsilanti kept crowding madly into the Pass already choked with men and beats of burden. Hundreds wee crushed to death by their friends. A stream that ran through the defile was packed so full of bodies that the water overflowed the banks and made the Passage slippery and difficult. The soldiers threw away their arms and thought of nothing but escape; they threw away the jewels aand gold they had “you came here of your own accord, you knew that you weren't coming to a little girl's birthday party, Now this ship is going in; you can come along if you dare; if you don't dare, jump overboard!”. The quiet little man had silenced them; they were ashamed of their fears amd retired to their stations. In through the narrow straits, between the sullen rocks, they glided, the Turkish lights growing larger as the ship approached. At first they came up to some frigates, anchored. These were game too small for the Greek. He sailed along the line until he came up to the huge ship of the Captain Pasha, Kenaris sailed straight for her. “Keep away! Keep away!” cried the Turkish guard; but the little ship came on. The enemy began to fire; While sleeping Turks awoke and rushed on deck; the wildest confusion raged. Amidst the whistling shore while the men crouched behind the bulwarks, Kenaris ran his ship alongside until the hooks upon his yard arms caught the rigging of the enemy. Quick as thought her crew had scrambled into the small boat at their vessel's stern, Kenaris having taken a lamp out of its hiding place, lit a torch, laid it on a train of powder, and leaped into the small boat. “Long live Greece amd Liberty”, he cried, as his men bent to their oars with a will. The train of powder sputtered along the deck of his ship and reached the casks, with a loud report they flew into a thousand pieces, setting fire to the combustibles in the hold. They blazed up into one massive sheet of flame. To the highest stay the flames ran up the starry rigging while the wind, blowing across the Turkish Ship commuicated the fire to every part of her. Her sails and cordage were all ablaze. her guns began to go off. Her complement of twelve hundred men trampled over one another in trying to escape. The Captain Pasha and some officers succeeded in getting a boat lowered, by cutting off the hands of the swimmers who clung to her, he got a little way from the ship when the blazing main mast came hissing down upon him, crushing him to death and every soul in his boat. Thus perished Captain Pasha, the wolf of Scio, while the intrepid Kenaris, with his sturdy oarsmen pulled rapidly down the strait and escaped upon the Greek ship waiting for them outside.

Confounded by this daring attack the fleet put to sea in great disorder. After some time they came to anchor off the Island of Tenedos. While here they were attacked at night a second time by Kenaris in another fireship. He picked out the largest vessel in the fleet, the one occupied by the new commander; he grapped her upon the windward side and firing the train escaped with his crew. The Turkish ship was entirely destroyed with almost all her men. She drifted upon other ships and burned them also. The fleet without orders and in the greatest confusion put to sea. The ships seemed without guidance. Tempetuous weather did them great damage, and this, with the sailors' fear of fiery Kenaris drove them quickely home to Constantinople. Thus closed the naval from which Nahaoud, the butcher had hoped for great results. Let us next see what became of the two fine armies that he sent against Ypsilanti and his friends.

One came down the west coast and tried to get into the Peninsula: by way of the Messaalonghi. but the brave and daring Marco Bozzari kept harrassing the invaders to such an extent that they accomplished very little of their objective.

The other army came down the east coast, determined to sweep all before them. To enter the Peninsular by the Isthmus of Corinth, which Ypsilanti had taken possession of. and. retaking their old Capital, Tripolitza, to reestablish Turkish supremacey in the whole land. So they came on from the Turkish border, burning towns and killing the inhabitants, leaving a wide track of fire and blood behind them. No resistance could be made, the villages were inhabited by peaceful citizens. Many of these towns received no news of the invasion until the tramp of horses and the yells of Turks arose upon the quiet air. The savage butchers galloped into the town, waving their bloody scimetars and firing their pistols, killing everyone they met, burning all the houses and carrying away every thing of value. They cut off the ears of all the corpses and packing them in boxes of salt, sent them to back to the Sultan as a report of their doings in Greece. Thus, killing and burning, they drew near to the Island of Corinth. You will remember that Ypsilanti had captured the fortress here and turned the city over to the new Greek Government for its Capital. But the authorities had not taken pains to have the place garrisoned properly and so this strong position fell into the hands of the invaders. At once the government awakened to their danger; the whole peninsular seemed almost in the hands of the enemy. They abandoned the unimportant work they had sent Ypsilanti to perform and implorea him to save the nation.

It was then that Ypsilanti achieved the success that gave him his greatest fame; that made him the most famous man of his time; that made his name familiar to the distant settlers of Woodruff's Grove, Washtenaw County, and decided them to name the new village that they founded higher up the river, Ypsilanti. The alarm spread through the Peninsula. “The Turks are upon us! To Arms!”

Ypsilanti gathered his men upon the Plains of Argos through which the Turks had marched to reach the Plains of Tripolitza. He burned or carried off all the crops and everything that could have been of use to the enemy. All told he had an army of three thousnad men; the Turkish General Drami Pasha commanded thirty thousand. There was a fortress in the Plain that had been built by the Venetians in the distant days of their possession. With three hundred men Ypsilanti took possession of it. While his other troops retreated to the hills to await events. Next day the Turkish force marched out upon the Plain. The Pasha saw the little fort upon the hill and sent up a messenger, demanding its surrender upon pain of being attacked by the whole army. Ypsilanti had provisions for only three days but he put a bold face to the matter. He took empty baskets and barrels and filled them up with dirt, spreading grain and other food on the top, so that it appeared that there was a great supply of provisions there, enough to keep his men, for many months. He set up the old and useless cannon of the fortress so that it appeared a formidable place: he hung up underclothes of all his men while they themselves were in plain sight, so that one would think a large array of men were sleepin g in the barracks in the addition to the ones outside. Then he let the messengers of the Pasha come in and laughed at them when they proposed that he surrender. Next day the Turks attacked him, but he drove them back; the next day and the next he did the same. They were afraid of him and his supposed large company. At length his water supply gave out and his provisions failed. At night he stole down with his little band and, creeping among the vines, fired several volays into the enemy and escaped to the hills. Then every night with his audacious mountaineers, the chief dropped down among the Turks and worried them exceedingly. The enemy could not determine how large a force they had to fight against; they could not use their cavalry in the night; they seemed dared and helpless in their darkness and confusion. In this state Ypsilanti drove them to take refuge in the valley of Argos, and almost immediately afterwards drove them out and himself took possession of this important position. Now, the Turks began to feel in the want of food. The crops had all been taken from the Plain, the very size of the army was against it: thirty thousand men and all their horses to be fed each day was a very serious affair. The water, too, was poor, and many men became incapacitated for active work by diarrhea and allied distresses. The soldiers began to murmer at their captains. “Where”, said they, “is the rich spoil of the south that you have promised us?” Shall we remain here to starve to death or die of fever or be picked off one by one like crows before the hunter's gun?

“Let us go home!” “Let us go home!” Drami Ali Pasha saw the desperate condition of his army and resolved to retreat to Corinth and to make a stand there until he could become in better circumstances to complete the subjugation of the Peninsula. He gave the order to retreat. From their position in the Village Ypsilanti and his men saw horses and camels and baggage wagons and men crossing the Plain toward the Passes of the north, sending a brave commander since that day as Niketas, “the Turk Eater”, to get possession of the rocks above the Pass, Ypsilanti, with all his men, fell upon the retreating army with great fury. The Turks pressed northward through the narrow pass, above which rise the rocks and mountains, steep as the sides of a wall. All was silent as if a peaceful Sabbath Day were blessing the beautiful scene. When the Pass was filled with Turkish men, suddenly, at a given signal, from every rock and tree on each side of the Pass, sprang out a hardy Greek, they rained a fiery storm of land upon the crowded mass below; they rolled huge boulders down the slopes. The rocks wwent crashing down upon the struggling victims. Not a shot was lost, not a stone fell down but what a dozen men were crushed beneath it. All this time the Turks, pressed from the rear by Ypsilanti kept crowding madly into the Pass already choked with men and beasts of burden. Hundreds were crushed to death by their friends. A stream that ran through through the defile was packed so full of bodies that the water overflowed the banks and made the Passage slippery and difficult. The soldiers threw away their arms and thought of nothing but escape; they threw away the jewels and and gold that they had captured in the devastated towns of northern Greece; they threw away their jackets and shoes, their trousers, and stripped entirely naked, clambored over corpses, wagons and rubbish. In effort to escape. The few that did come out, reached the fortress of Corinth, which however, they soon deserted. In straggling bands they sought such places as the Greeks cared not to attack and so escaped.

Thus did Ypsilanti annihilate the proud army of the Sultan which had promised such great things. The tents, the cannon, the baggage, and the spoil of the Turks fell into the Chieftan's hands. With strict fidelity, as always, he delivered them to his government for use in carrying on the war. This was the famous battle on the field of Argos that made the name of our town through her namesake Demetrius Ypsilanti famous all through the world.

It is not necessary to detail further the Grecian struggle. Such events as this, such exploits as those of Ypsilanti, Kennaris, and Bozzaris, showed the. world at length that this was no petty disturbance in the Empire of the Sultan, but the determined movement of a Christian people to be free. After seven years of weary conflict, when the fine land of Greece had almost worn herself away by constant fighting. England, France and Russia compelled the Turk to withdraw his bloody hand forever. Ypsilanti lived to see his country acknowledged by the world to be a free and independent nation. As he had served her on the field of battle so did he serve her in the time of Peace, sincerely, honestly and disinterestedly. He became one of her executive commission, the highest post in the gift of his countrymen, and he retained that office until he died. This was in 1832, he being only thirty-nine years of age.

I don't suppose he ever knew that, in the far off wilderness, a little town assumed the name and grew to be a staid old place inhabitied chiefly by staid old professors and students who rarely give his name a thought. When they do it is to put him down as an Indian Chief who merely had a wigwam on the Huron's Banks. If I were rich, I would have his statue set in a public place in the town that was named after him and on the pedestal I would print:

DEMETRIUS YPSILANTI

Born in Constantinople, 1793
Died in Greece, 1832
He was small in statue, plain in feature
and harsh in voice

Nature lavished not upon him graces of body or of mind, But he was of an honest heart, a strong will, and an ardent Patriot who commanded the Greeks in the North; who brought about their declaration of independence; who smote the tyrant Turk at Argos. who served his country in Peace and War; who died while one of her supreme council, You, who look upon him, be mindful of your duty to your country.