On this day in 1823, Greek Independence war hero Markos Botsaris was martyred when 350 Souliote Greeks he led attacked thousands of Ottomans during the Battle of Karpenisi.
When the Greek War of Independence broke out in 1821, the Greeks with much success managed to expel the Ottoman army from the Peloponnese and other areas of Greece in 1822.
The Ottomans built a new army made of 8,000 Albanian Gheg’s to re-invade the Peloponnese in 1823.
With the Greek forces in disarray after infighting, Markos Botsaris with a small force of only 350 Souliotes marched out to meet this Albanian Ottoman force.
Botsaris, from the Souli region of Epirus, was the second son of captain Kitsos Botsaris who was murdered in 1813 by Ali Pascha, the Ottoman ruler of Epirus. With the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, Botsaris and other Souliote clan leaders quickly rushed to join the revolution.
The Souliote quickly became renowned for his bravery and cunning, and was quickly elevated to the rank of General of Western Greece by the infant Greek Government.
On August 21 1823, Botsaris with only 350 Sioliotes, attacked the Albanian Ottoman camp. The Albanians, overconfident in their eventual victory, had not made camp defenses and were completely shocked when the attack began.
With the Greek forces only sustaining minimal casualties, they eventually had to retreat from the battlefield when Botsaris was shot in the head and killed instantly.
Although his daring raid had cost him his life, over 1,000 Albanian Ottomans were killed, significantly weakening this new Ottoman army. The Albanians would then besiege the town of Missolonghi for a second time, before retreating in failure, partly thanks to the efforts of Botsaris and his 350 Souliotes.
Botsaris instantly became a national hero, and Greek and foreign poets would write ballads about him. He was buried with full honours in Missolonghi, but after the capture of the town during the Third Siege in 1826, Albanian Ottomans desecrated his grave out of anger for the embarassment he caused them.