Reminiscent of ancient heroics, on this day on May 8, 1821, 120 Greeks led by Odysseas Androutsos took on 8,000 Ottoman troops at Gravia Inn and achieved a strategic victory that changed the course of the Greek War of Independence.
Before starting out from Trikala in Central Greece for his campaign in the Peloponnese to crush the Greek War of Independence, Albanian-Ottoman warlord Omer Vryonis ordered his loyal captains in Western Greece to gather in Gravia Fokidos.
From there, Vryonis contacted Odysseus Androutsos and announced the death of Athanasios Diakos.
The Albanian urged him to go to Gravia with his other captains to submit themselves to Islam and fight for the Ottoman Empire.
Diakos was impaled on April 24 after being captured and refusing to convert to Islam, saying “I was born a Greek, I shall die a Greek.”
Androutsos arrived in Gravia on May 3 with Kosmas Soulioti, Efstathios Katsikogianni and a group of about 120 men willing to face the same fate as Diakos.
He immediately understood the situation and indicated to the Greek rebels that they had to make every sacrifice to stop the enemy from reaching the Peloponnese and crushing the successful rebellion against the Ottoman Empire.
Androutsos suggested that they be locked up in the Inn so that they could not retreat, forcing them to fight at all costs to stop the march of Vryonis towards the Peloponnese.
Androutsos invited his men to dance the tsamiko, a Greek war dance.
120 Greeks were dancing before the battle.
As soon as Vryonis arrived, he sent a messenger to tell Androutsos to surrender.
However, Androutsos did not accept and killed the messenger.
The Ottomans attacked the Greeks but were repulsed with heavy losses and were forced to retreat.
Thus the first attack was successfully dealt with by the Greek side, as were the second and third.
Vryonis, seeing his men dying by Greek bullets, ordered to bring cannons forward to blow up the building – the Ottomans stopped their attack against the inn until the cannons arrived.
The Greeks, realising their intentions and after killing more than 300 Ottomans, managed to sneak out of the inn, passing through the hostile Ottoman lines.
Their particularly daring exit cost only six dead.
Over 300 Ottomans were killed and 600 were wounded within hours, while the Greeks lost only six warriors.
The strategic success of this battle was great as it prevented the descent of Vryonis to the Peloponnese and facilitated the victory in Valtetsi that inspired the Greeks and the revolution.
Specifically, after the battle of Gravia, Vryonis was so shocked that he decided to temporarily stop his campaign and retreat to the island of Evia.
Thus, the descent of such a powerful army to the Peloponnese was prevented by only 120 brave Greek warriors.
This was all the more impressive since the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman Empire had not yet broken out in the Gravia region.
However, their success contributed to the beginning of the struggle in western Greece as well.