Officer of the French army during the Napoleonic Wars

 

The General Jean-Chrétien Louis Dentzel was a baron, and French Philhellene who took part in the Greek Revolution, as a commander of the troops of Western Greece.

Jean-Chrétien Louis Dentzel was of German descent, born in Landau, Rhineland, on May 6, 1786. He was one of eight children of Georges-Frédéric Dentzel, a reputable officer who participated in the American Revolution, and Sibille Laure Wolff. His nephew was Georges Eugène Haussmann, governor of the Seine region in Paris, who became famous for the urban reform of the city of Paris during the reign of Napoleon III. A central Avenue in Paris is named after him.

Dentzel attended Military School in Fontainebleau, graduating on September 21, 1805. He was awarded the rank of lieutenant at the age of 19. He then served in the cavalry and took part in many military operations during the first Napoleonic Empire in France, where he distinguished himself.

He was promoted many times and came to receive the rank of lieutenant colonel of the Cavalry. According to his personal register, he participated in many campaigns, served among others in the 6th Usser Regiment, and was often placed in important positions and on the side of important generals. He took part in the campaigns of Austria in 1805, Prussia in 1806, Poland in 1807, Spain in 1811, Russia in 1812, and in Napoleon’s Great Army in France in 1813 and 1814. He was wounded in three of them. From his service in the Army he gained significant experience and knowledge in matters of strategy and military organization.

At the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, he served in Napoleon’s headquarters and fought alongside his father.

Dentzel was a member of the Carbonari and participated with his friend (later also Philhellene) Fabvier, in various other conspiracies against the Bourbon regime. The two close friends had significant action of fictional dimensions in France at the time. In fact, they have even become the heroes of a novel in France for their action in 1822. For these actions, he was sentenced in 1822 to 4 months in prison and placed in inactivity in France, with the rank of Colonel. This situation did not allow him to continue his career in his country. So he retired to Frankfurt and returned to France in 1824.

At the same time, his restless spirit was thrilled by the Greek Revolution. His enthusiasm later led him to Greece. So he left France, without even informing his family, and arrived in Greece to work with Fabvier in an effort to organize the Greek Regular Army. His family was unaware of his fate and considered him dead. He arrived in Greece at the end of 1827 from Corfu. Evidence of its presence and action dates back to the beginning of 1828. It is noted here that it seems that there was another Philhellene of the same name, who served as captain with the Philhellene Frank Abney Hastings, and who was present at the same time in same wider area (Western Greece). It seems that captain Dentzel also had an important, but different, action at sea.

Jean-Chrétien Louis Dentzel took office in Greece on February 1, 1828 in Dragamesto, Aitoloakarnania, under the British General Church. He was appointed brigadier general, chief of staff of the Army of Western Greece, whose Commander in chief was Church. Kapodistrias later promoted him to a General and assigned him the command of the troops of Western Greece, replacing General Church on June 24, 1829. Dentzel, according to Herni Fornèsy, “participated with distinction in all campaigns, in Aitoloakarnania, Evrytania, that is, in Dragamesto, Karpenisi, etc.”. Several other Philhellenes and Frenchmen also served in the Army of Western Greece, which was smaller than that of Eastern Greece and did not exceed the number of 3,500 men.

Dentzel did undertake and accomplished a very important job. After the occupation of Messolonghi by the Turks, the failure of the battle of Analatos in Attica, during which Karaiskakis, but also many Greeks and Philhellenes, were killed, and the surrender of the Acropolis, the Revolution in central Greece was reprimed and the control of all territories passed to the Turks. The chieftains had crossed into the Peloponnese or accepted to submit to the Turks (accepting to worship them according to the tradition at that time). This development was particularly bad because, according to the Treaty of London of 1827, a Greek state would be established on the lands that remained controlled by the revolutionaries. The Greek Administration was trying in every way to regain control in Central Greece. In November 1927, the great Philhellene Frank Abney Hastings landed General Church and an expeditionary force in Dragamesto, in Western Greece. From there, Dentzel undertook, gradually and methodically, to fortify the positions of the Greek forces, and then to liberate the Greek villages and the Greek areas, one after the other. He treated the entire population in an excellent way, he restored the municipal administration of the officials in each community and negotiated the return of those chieftains and local populations who had accepted to submit to the Turks, getting them to support the Greek Administration. In a relatively short period of time, after constant clashes and battles with the Turks, Dentzel liberated almost all of Western Greece.

Like his predecessor, British General Church, Dentzel made efforts to reduce fraud in the army. In this endeavor he had to face many reactions. In this context, he submitted to Governor Kapodistrias a series of important proposals, such as the issuance of an individual booklet for each soldier and each officer, which would function as an identity and as an individual register, proposals that were accepted. In addition, a Gendarmerie Corps was formed in Vonitsa during his time, most likely on his own initiative.

And while everything was going well, the terrible military uprising of 1829 broke out. A group of Greek soldiers revolted, using as an excuse the inability of the government of Kapodistrias to pay their salaries timely, but also because of the rivalries between Souliotes and Roumeliotes chieftains. In fact, the insurgents abandoned their positions on the northern borders, planned to integrate the troops of Eastern Greece, led by Dimitrios Ypsilantis, in the last battles against the Turks, and to march against Kapodistrias. Augustinos Kapodistrias wanted to bring those responsible to justice. However, the Governor disagreed and decided to grant them a favor. Dentzel’s role in calming the spirits and avoiding another civil conflict was catalytic. He was reminding the Greeks that with these actions Greece would lose territories and important portions of the population would lose their freedom, and called on them to realize their responsibilities towards the homeland and God. After the order was restored, Dentzel strengthened and fortified the positions on the northern border, thwarting the plans of the Turks of Arta to invade Western Greece again.

Dentzel nurtured feelings of great love for the Greeks, showing understanding and willingness to handle developments with diplomacy. The way in which he addressed his friends speaks for his feelings and character. For example, when writing to friends like Chief Ragkos, who served under his command he signed as follows: “Your brother, General Dentzelos.” He had a great influence on the circles of the Philhellenes and the Greek chieftains and he was supported by the Philhellenic committees which were financing his efforts in the Greek army. In 1829 he even filed an application to be naturalized as Greek and get the Greek citizenship.

During his stay in Greece, Dentzel usually lived in the mountains and under hoarse/bad conditions, close to the local population and his soldiers. Due to these conditions, he became very ill, and finally lost his life.

He died on September 3/15, 1829, from an illness in Vonitsa, at the age of 43, before he was able to receive his naturalization as a Greek, which was granted and was on its way to him. Denzel was not married and left no descendants. According to Henri Fornèsy, “His death caused great sorrow to his colleagues, because of his fearless character, his abilities, the subtlety of his manners, the confidence he instilled in all the classes of the army.” He was replaced by the former commander of the Philhellenic Company, the Italian Vincenzo Pisa. His career in Greece became known in France only after his death.

In France he was decorated with the Order of the Knight of the Legion of Honor on April 24, 1812, the Order of the Knight of St. Louis on October 28, 1814, and the Order of the Officer of the Legion of Honor on November 2, 1814.

Baron General Jean-Chrétien Louis Dentzel was one of the most selfless Philhellenes who contributed much to Greece’s struggle, and most importantly at a critical time. To this great Philhellene Greece owes the fact that it managed to claim and succeed to integrate all of Western Greece into the newly formed free state.

 

SOURCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • École spéciale militaire, Livre d’or des Saint-Cyriens morts au champ d’honneur, Imprimerie nationale, 1922.
  • Norbert Charles De Beaulieu, Georges-Frédéric Dentzel (1755-1828) : une destinée européenne, NA, 1994.
  • Strauss-Schom Alan, The Shadow Emperor: A Biography of Napoleon III, St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2018.
  • Valynseele Joseph. Haussmann: sa famille et sa descendance, Παρίσι, Εκδόσεις Christian, 1982.
  • Άννινος Μπάμπης, Ιστορικά σημειώματα, εκδ. Εστία, Αθήνα 1925.
  • ΓΑΚ, Κερκύρας, Καποδιστριακό Αρχείο, Φάκελοι 70, 86, αλληλογραφία Dentzel-Καποδίστρια.
  • Εθνική Βιβλιοθήκη, Τμήμα Χειρογράφων και Ομοιοτύπων, χειρόγραφο 1.697: Henri Fornèsy, «Le monument des philhellènes», 1860.
  • Εφημερίδα, Courrier d’Orient, αρ. φ. 23, 21 Οκτωβρίου 1829, σελ. 3.
  • Ηλεκτρονική βάση απονεμηθέντων παρασήμων της Λεγεώνας της Τιμής http://wwwcoulture.gouv.fr/documentation/leonore/leonore.htm, Dossier LH/734/30.
  • Ιωάννης Κορίνθιος, «Οι μυστικές εταιρείες κατά την καποδιστριακή περίοδο», Φιλολογικό Περιοδικό Παρνασσός, Τόμος Λ, αρ. 2, 1988, σελ. 233-254.
  • Κοτσώνης Λ. Κωνσταντίνος, «Ο στρατηγός Dentzel και η στρατιωτική ανταρσία στη Δυτική Στερεά Ελλάδα (1829): αυτόγραφος έκθεσίς του», περιοδικό Ελληνογαλλικά, Εταιρεία Ελληνικού Λογοτεχνικού και Ιστορικού Αρχείου, 1990, σελ. 379-407.
  • Παπαδόπουλος Ι. Στέφανος, «Η οργάνωση του Στρατού της Δυτικής Στερεάς Ελλάδας επί Καποδίστρια», ανάτυπο από το περιοδικό Ελληνικά – Φιλολογικόν, ιστορικόν και λαογραφικόν περιοδικόν σύγγραμμα, τ. 18 (Θεσσαλονίκη 1964), σσ. 144-149.
  • Παπαδόπουλος Ι. Στέφανος, «Η Επανάσταση στην δυτική Στερεά Ελλάδα μετά την πτώση του Μεσολογγίου ως την οριστική απελευθέρωσή της (1826-1832)», Θεσσαλονίκη 1962.
  • Achille de Vaulabelle: Histoire des deux Restaurations jusqu’à la chute de Charles X. Band 5. Perrotin, Paris 1850.
  • Frédéric Preney-Declercq, Les sergents de La Rochelle: Paris et Strasbourg – 1822, Μυθιστόρημα.

 

 

Jonathan Peckham Miller is one of the most important American Philhellenes present in Greece during the Greek Revolution. Miller came to Greece sent by the philhellenic committees of the USA. He fought on many fronts from 1824 to 1826, received the rank of colonel, and in the end he participated from 1827 to 1828 as a representative of the philhellenic committees this time, in the management of the important American aid to Greece, performing a valuable humanitarian work. Before leaving for the United States, he adopted an orphaned Greek boy. This child, Lucas Miltiades Miller, excelled in America and was elected member of the US Congress.

Jonathan Peckham Miller kept an exhaustive diary in Greece, especially for the second period of his presence there (1827 – 1828), which was published in a book. It records some particularly interesting facts about the type of aid that Greece received from the United States, the way it was distributed, its recipients, the needs of the Greeks, etc. At the same time, the book was published in the United States, and it constituted a key instrument to inform the public, on the situation of the Greeks and for the encouragement of the continuation of fundraising actions and the expansion of aid in other areas as well, such as that of education, the establishment of schools and the training of the population.

Miller was born in 1797 in Randolph, Vermont, USA, and died in 1847 in Montpelier, Vermont. He came from a rural family. He enlisted as a young man in the US Army, and served as a trained soldier in the War against England in 1812. He later received the rank of warrant officer, and in 1817, decided to study at the University of Burlington. After two years, a fire destroyed his campus and all his belongings. At the same time, during this period he was inspired by the work of Lord Byron, and then by the struggle for liberation of the Greeks, and became a fierce philhellene, like thousands of young people throughout Europe and America. So he decides to get in touch with the Philhellenic Committee of Boston and ask for their assistance to enlist as a volunteer in the revolutionary forces of Greece. The committee saw in Miller “a man of iron health, with a cultured spirit and full knowledge in military tactics”, as the Boston Telegraph reported on September 9, 1824, and supported him, covering his travel expenses, and securing a small monthly subsistence fee for his living in Greece.

So he left America in August 1824, and arrived in Greece via Malta. He stayed in Malta for two months. There, according to Christos Lazos, he met the Reverend Samuel Wilson (English priest) and the Reverend Daniel Temple of American descent. Daniel Temple went to Malta in February 1822, and brought with him a Greek printing press offered by an American from Paris, S. Wilder, the then head of the American press at the British Mission. With this machine, Daniel Temple printed many pamphlets with religious and propaganda content in favor of the Greeks, in Greek language. When Miller left Malta for Greece, he took with him thousands of printed leaflets to distribute in Greece. In fact, in one of his letters he expresses the joy caused by the fact that these pamphlets attracted great attention by the Greeks, who read them with great interest.

He then arrived in Zakynthos from Malta, and on November 26, 1824 of the same year, he landed in Messolonghi, and presented himself to Alexandros Mavrokordatos, to whom he delivered the letters of recommendation he had received from the Philhellenic Committee of Boston. There, he has the good fortune to meet his compatriot George Jarvis, with whom he immediately develops a close friendship. Their diaries and correspondence witness for the respect and admiration they had for each other. In fact, Jarvis teaches Greek to Miller and helps him acclimatize to the Greek reality. Miller saw in Jarvis “a man of principles and brave as a lion.”.

Miller was a pure and selfless Philhellene. He never asked the Greek administration for money. In fact, he was becoming upset when he was seeing others asking for money and salaries, while everyone knew that there were no resources.

During his stay in Greece, he often writes letters to the United States in which he highlights the struggle of the Greeks, their deprivations and their needs. In all of them, he asks the Committees to inform American volunteers who may want to come to Greece, that they had to bring money with them (at least 200 USD a year) and full armament. His letters attract a great interest and are constantly published in the American press.

Miller learned quickly Greek, wore a Greek costume (he even shaved his head like the Souliotes) and was especially loved by the Greeks. He started with the rank of captain and within two years he reached the rank of colonel. In 1824 he was present at the Assembly of Western Greece in Aetoliko.

Konstantinos Kanaris (1793 – 1877) was an important figure in the Greek Revolution of 1821 and later admiral, politician, and five times prime minister of Greece. Sketch by the American Philhellene P. Miller from Vermont, USA.

The other great American Philhellene, military Dr Samuel Howe, refers in his diary on the appearance of his friend when he returned from the Congress in Aetoliko. “You know Captain Miller. He is still the same brave man. He is a strict, wholehearted character and is a soul and a body devoted to the cause of freedom. You will laugh if you see him. He has shaved his head, he is wearing the Greek flokati, with the pistols on his belt, his yatagan and gun on his shoulders, he is a very strange figure. He serves as a captain, and he is expected to very much serve the fight”.

An interesting letter from Miller follows, in which he describes on his own his impressions from Greece.

“Messolonghi, January 5, 1823

Dear friend. I crossed the ocean and I am in Greece, the country that is so famous for its classical history, the bravery of its warriors and the love they have for freedom.

Although I was determined before I even departed to come here and I was ready for everything, I can’t help but say that, at some point, I was disappointed.

I expected to find at least a number of regiments formed, without having to be obliged to find my own bread. But this is not the case. In terms of tactics, the Greeks are very similar to our Indians. Every captain finds as many men as he can advocate with little money and leads them against the enemy. When the battle is over, the chieftains present their various accounts to the government and receive payment promises. This situation, although it slightly refutes my hopes, is not against the Greeks. We cannot demand that, even in America, troops are paid and dressed if there was no money to pay and dress them. The truth is this: there is little money in Greece. The British loan and what America has sent, are the only financial resources on which the Government can rely to activate its actions. Therefore, it is very correct to spend as little as possible.

As I asked him, colonel Jarvis gave a general account of the situation, as it was and as it is, in Greece. He seems to have a great influence on things in Greece. I think he is a very good person and I consider myself lucky to be with him. I was so upset with the attitude of the Franks that they constantly annoyed the government by asking for money so that I did not submit any application to it, but I only showed my recommendation letters to Governor Mavrokordatos.

I am sure that the beauty, humility, simplicity and virtue of women are unprecedented in any part of the world. The mountains are now covered with snow. But the valleys and plains are green with grass. Greeks do not have horse carriages or wagons. Like the Turks, they carry all their cargoes with horses, donkeys and mules. The plains of Western Greece that I saw are fertile. The wine is of god quality. It only costs sixteen cents a gallon. If the country achieves its freedom, which I have no doubt about, they will be able to open very useful trade relations between Greece and America.

I hope, dear Sir, that if the Turks do not intervene, I will have the pleasure to receive your letter as soon as possible. Do not forget that I am an old soldier and therefore I have a right to ask for this grace.

I learn the language of the country quite quickly. Greeks talk a lot about Mr. Webster (SHP Note: He refers to the American Senator Daniel Webster, who had addressed a fiery speech in favor of the Greeks in the US Congress).

I kindly ask you, dear Sir, to give my greetings to my friends in America and believe that I am faithfully

Yours J.P. Miller. “

In another letter to the Philhellenic Committee of Boston, he states that he and Jarvis were planning an operation to liberate Nafpaktos.

Miller then met the other great Philhellene, Dr. Samuel Howe. The writings of both show that they became close friends. In fact, these three fiery Philhellenes, formed an emblematic trinity, which was present in almost all military operations of the Greeks on land and at sea.

In fact, according to Samuel Howe, Miller defies dangers, hardships, deprivations, and is committed to the Greek Revolution, and even offers his services humbly, without claiming honors, with patience and faith. Both Miller, as well as Jarvis and Samuel Howe, defended the Greeks at every opportunity, even when they were accused.

For example, Miller refers in his writings on his impressions from the Congress of Western Greece in Aetoliko with the following words: “I was there and I saw a hundred Greeks discussing their problems for ten days without the slightest violent outburst. Where else could one meet two thousand soldiers who are not drunk? I have not seen a single drunk in this place … I do not believe that the beauty, modesty, simplicity and decency of women here exists in any other part of the world “.

Sketch by Jonathan Peckham Miller with a copy of his signature.

Miller was in Messolonghi during the last siege by tens of thousands of Turks. In fact, he operated a canon with great success, since, according to Dr. Samuel Howe, “his first shot was completed successfully: four dead opponents were the price.” Miller referred in his writings to the heroic resistance of the Greeks in Messolonghi. For fifteen days he himself resisted, and in the end he managed to escape the siege of the besiegers and finally it seems that he escaped just a few days before the Exodus. We deal with this issue below.

In another letter of January 14, 1825, excerpts of which follow, Miller presents to the Philhellenic Committee of Boston the situation and his impressions of his stay in Greece:

“Messolonghi, January 14, 1825

… Greeks will be liberated. The reasons why I believe this are the following: Despite the misery that exists (and I am sure there has never been a bigger one in another country), the general idea is that not only men but also women and children would prefer to die rather than be enslaved to the Turks again. If the enemy were far away, I would not take such statements seriously, but because they are only twenty miles away, they clearly show the decision of the Greeks. …

… The order and legality with which the Conference of the various provinces of Western Greece was held in Anatolikon, on December 16, 1824. I was present at the Conference. It was attended by the most important inhabitants and senior citizens of the various regions who met for ten days, during which all the affairs of Western Greece were settled amicably, although the officers and soldiers who defended the country in the last six months had received neither salaries nor clothes, nor food. There were two thousand soldiers in the city, who had arrived with their leaders. However, there were no fights or riots, and the Senate, with its order and orderliness, would be worthy of any country. When I see a hundred men – most of them armed – talking calmly about the affairs of their homeland for ten days without disagreeing, while they would have every reason to complain, I immediately conclude that they are capable of doing much. Mavrokordatos is undoubtedly the first Greek both for his talent and his influence. Although he defended his province all year without one penny, his officers are loyal, despite the fact they are fed only with hopes.

… I hope that with God’s blessing I will be able to help the Greeks. This hope comforts me in the midst of so much general misery that surrounds me. …

… Greet on my behalf the friends of Greece in America. Tell them that every day I see such misery that cannot be described. Women and children escape from the hands of the Turks, without a cloth to cover them or a piece of bread to eat. If there was a country that needed the charity of the Christian world, that must be Greece. “.

As mentioned above, these letters, apart from constituting historical sources, served another important purpose. That of informing and influencing the American public opinion, and cultivating the Philhellenic movement in the United States. In fact, they were the catalyst for the collection of funds and the conduct of fundraising events in favor of the Greeks.

It is worth mentioning another aspect of Miller’s action in Greece. In March 1825, the Reverend Samuel Wilson arrived, and Miller accompanied him on his tour of Greece. During this tour, Miller had the opportunity to distribute the leaflets printed in Malta, and it is characteristic that he noticed the thirst of the Greeks for education. Miller writes about this: “… Greeks in peace or in war are thirsty for learning and are ecstatic at the sight of a pamphlet or a Bible and are able to give a proper battle to obtain such a pamphlet that they so characteristically call it Feather. Many times in my camp I saw soldiers gathered around a colleague listening to him reading a text.”. However, the way in which he describes the Greeks is also interesting: “The peasants are modest and honest, the traders are liars, cunning, insidious, the soldiers are brave, courageous, absolutely devoted to the idea of ​​freedom … the Greek women modest, moral, beautiful. … ‘I lived like a Greek with the Greeks, I am ready to suffer for the idea of ​​religion and freedom. You can call me a crusader or whatever, but I live only to see the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.”.

Miller followed Jarvis in a series of operations in Central Greece and then in the Peloponnese, and eventually ended up in Nafplion. There, as we mentioned, he met Dr. Samuel Howe. Meanwhile, Ibrahim Pasha had occupied Tripolitsa and had launched a campaign to capture Argos and Nafplion. Miller, along with other philhellenes, joins the forces of Demetrios Ypsilantis and goes to Myloi to confront Ibrahim.

Greek forces take up battle positions. Miller’s unit, which includes many philhellenes, is fortified behind the wall of a farm. There, they are met by numerous Turkish-Egyptian troops on June 13, 1825, and one of the most important battles of the Greek liberation struggle begins. The Battle of Myloi (the Mills), in which two great Greek fighters were distinguished. Dimitrios Ypsilantis and Ioannis Makrygiannis. Miller and the Philhellenes, despite being surrounded, held their position and fought valiantly, even body to body. And while their condition was dire, General Makrygiannis intervened with few men, who struck at one side with speed, force and shouts the enemy. The Turks panicked and began to retreat. The Battle of Myloi ended with the victory of the Greek forces and the retreat of Ibrahim’s army to Tripolitsa. As many sources attest (Howe, Gordon, Humphrey), Miller fought with exemplary courage.

Shortly afterwards, in the summer of 1825, Miller fell seriously ill from malaria. Fortunately, Samuel Howe was by his side and healed him. But because his body was very weak, Howe took him with him on the ship in which he served as a military doctor, chief physician of the Greek fleet. A mission had been assigned to this fleet in Gramvousa, Crete, which at that time had revolted and was under the control of Cretan revolutionaries led by Dimitrios Kallergis. During this campaign, Miller worked as an apprentice medical assistant to Samuel Howe for two months, working for the medical care and treatment of the injured.

After this campaign, Miller wrote a letter to a relative in the United States on October 5, 1825, stating, among other things: “… I want to help for the independence and rebirth of this country … Although I have had really hard hours and moments, I bless the Most High, who put in my heart the desire to come to Greece and I am ready and willing, if that is his will, to die for her sake.”.

As mentioned above, Miller took part in another important moment of the Greek struggle for liberation, in Messolonghi. He took part in the operations to defend the city during the last siege and fought bravely to the end. Apparently he managed to escape Messolonghi shortly before the final Exodus. Evidence from various sources suggests that he left the city suddenly and unprepared, and that he had a very clear and complete picture of what happened during the Exodus.

In fact, in a letter dated May 3, 1826 to Edward Everett, the great American Philhellene and president of the Philhellenic Committee of Boston, he described in detail what was at stake during the Exodus. “… With unexpressed emotion, I am trying to tell the story of the fall of Messolonghi, and the heartbreaking situation of unfortunate Greece. Mesolonghi fell to the Turks eight days ago, after a heroic defense of eleven months and a half. Given the means of defense and the overwhelming torrent of enemies who surrounded the land and sea again, there can be no doubt that history has not seen such endurance in the past or in modern times. The details of the downfall are enough to bring tears to the eyes of the most callous and unconscious, and they will raise in action the Christian world, if indeed it can be said that there is such a thing. I am sorry, dear Sir, the anxiety in my mind dictates this expression because, who could ever believe that, in this century, while Christians exist, the infidels would have the freedom to slaughter an entire population. Messolonghi had more than eight thousands inhabitants at the time of the surrender, or rather the destruction. Only three thousands of them were able to carry weapons, the rest were women and children. We had finally come to despair in the absence of food, having already used for food all the mules and horses who were there, when the gloom of the inhabitants gave way to joy at the arrival of the Greek fleet. But hey! The brave Miaoulis found the Turkish force very large for his small naval division, after three attempts to break up the Turkish fleet, undergoing considerable losses, they retreated. The inhabitants of Messolonghi were left in the final despair. They recognized the hard fortune of those who were arrested in Aitolikon, and what atrocities would be committed by the Arabs, if the city were to surrender. They made the horrific but heroic decision to blow up their wives, daughters and sons.

I call it heroic, because the women themselves asked for it, since there was no way to prevent the Arabs from committing atrocities against women and children, if they ever had them at their disposal. So they all went to the old Turkish Sarai. The husbands and their brothers, after assembling the gunpowder, kissed them for the last time, and then gave them the matches, leaving them to set fire to the gunpowder. The men then prepared to cross the Turkish camp with the sword in hand. Of the 3,000, only a thousand are said to have survived.

What undisguised sadness prevails here. Women beat their breasts, and ask every Frank they meet “if the whole Christian world has abandoned them.”. I have to end this hasty misspelling because my heart is overflowing to such an extent that I am unable to write more. I lost all my European clothing in Messolonghi. But that is nothing. If I am lucky enough to escape, I will go to Smyrna.

My admiration for Mrs. Everett, I am glad that it is not her or the fate of the beautiful, but unfortunate daughters of Greece.”.

Another primary source is Miller’s diary after his return to Greece, during which time he managed to distribute the aid that arrived in Greece from the United States. On May 28, 1827, he refers to the conditions under which he left Greece a year ago and specifically states that he did not have “money, clothes and a passport, I had lost the last two in the fall of Messolonghi, in whose defense I had taken part. ”.

Many historians have dealt with the issue and expressed their views on whether Miller participated in the Exodus or not. However, even those who take the position that he was not at the Exodus (Christos Lazos, Thanos Vagenas, Evridiki Dimitrakopoulou), they do not claim that he was not in Messolonghi and that they he did not defend the city during the last and fatal siege. It is most likely that Miller participated during the siege until the last days and that he was given an unexpected opportunity to leave suddenly shortly before the Exodus. He may even have been close to Messolonghi when the Exodus took place, and that found himself with those who survived shortly afterwards.

The main argument of those who claim that he was not in Messolonghi, is that he might have left his European clothes there before leaving for Crete. This is hard to believe, however, because even if that were the case, he would never have left his passport there, which he needed even in Greece.

Miller eventually made it to Smyrna, from where he traveled to the United States, where he arrived in November 1826. During his time in the United States, he collaborated with the Philhellenic Committee, wrote and published numerous articles, with an aim to motivate again the public opinion and support fundraisers in favor of the Greeks.

Miller returned to Greece a little later, in March 1827, as an envoy of the Philhellenic Committee of New York, with a new and different mission this time, which had a humanitarian character. The distribution of American aid sent to the newly formed Greek state.

Portrait of Jonathan Peckham Miller.

The United States sent a total of 8 ship cargoes to help the Greeks. The first was “Six brothers” which left from New York on March 13, 1827, and the last one was “Suffolk” which left from Boston on September 13, 1828.

At the end of 1828, when the distribution of humanitarian aid was completed and he realized that Greece had now established a free state, Miller considered that his mission was completed, and he decided to return permanently to the United States. This trip is associated with a particularly moving event. Shortly before leaving, Miller met three orphaned Greek children, two boys and a girl. The situation of these children, who had no relatives left, moves Miller and another American Philhellene, Dr. John Denison Russ (a short biography is attached below). They both decide to adopt these children. Miller adopts the youngest of them, Lucas Miltiades, and Russ adopts the boy and the girl. No research has yet been done on what happened to these two children.

Painting by Lukas Miltiades Miller, adopted son of Jonathan Peckham Miller.

Monument to Lukas Miltiadis Miller.

Professor Iakovos Michailidis has recently conducted a thorough study on all children from Greece adopted at this time by Americans in the United States.

While it is not known so far what happened to the two children adopted by Russ, the young Lucas Miltiadis (now Miller), became a successful businessman in the United States, very popular in the State of Wisconsin, and was elected a member of the US Congress. He was the first Greek-American politician in the United States.

After Greece, Jonathan Peckham Miller had a particularly remarkable career in the United States, and remained as a personality consistent with his ideology and the pure feelings he shared as a Philhellene. As soon as he returned to the United States, he registered in law school. In 1831 he was admitted to the Bar Association of Berlin in Vermont.

1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention, Benjamin Robert Haydon, 1841, National Portrait Gallery, London. The painting also shows J. P. Miller.

Miller was involved in politics. He became an uncompromising defender of human rights, of women’s rights and of the abolition of slavery. For this purpose, he even submitted many proposals for resolutions to the Parliament of his State. In 1840 he took part in the International Conference on the Abolition of Slavery in London. Thanks to its action, Vermont was the first US state to abolish slavery.

Jonathan Peckham Miller highway in Randolph, Vermont, USA. Honorary plaques in his birthplace in the USA refer to his personality and the role he played in Greece, giving him the honorary title of Freedom Fighter.

The tomb of Jonathan Peckham Miller in Montpelier, Vermont, USA.

Jonathan Peckham Miller had bought in Greece one of the swords of Lord Byron, which had been lost. His daughter, Keith Miller, traveled to Greece in 1853 and eventually managed to locate the sword and returned with it to the United States. This sword is now in the Vermont Historical Society.

One of the swords of Lord Byron, brought by Jonathan Peckham Miller from Greece. The sword is now in the Vermont Historical Society in the United States.

Greece, Hellenism, and Philhellenism, but also the humanity in whole owe a lot to this great freedom fighter Jonathan Peckham Miller.

 

(*) Biographical note on the Americal Philhellene, Dr. John Denison Russ (1801-1881). American physician and philanthropist, born at Chebacco (Essex), Massachusetts, in September 1801. He died at Pompton, New Jersey, 1 March 1881. He was graduated from Yale in 1823, studied medicine in the United States, in London, and on the Continent. In 1826 he began practice in New York, between 1827 and 1830, he was in Greece aiding the Greek patriots, and upon his return he began the first instruction of the blind attempted in the United States. He was invited to organize the Institution for the Blind in Boston, but preferred to continue his independent work. In 1832 he became superintendent of the New York institution, a post from which he resigned in 1858. His inventions and improvements for the assistance of the blind were widely used. Latterly he was active in endeavors to improve prison discipline and further the welfare of discharged prisoners.

 

Bibliography – Sources

  • Άννινος Μπάμπης, Οι φιλέλληνες του 1821, Αθήναι, 1967.
  • Απόστολος Βακαλόπουλος, Ιστορία του Νέου Ελληνισμού, τομ. ΣΤ’, «Η εσωτερική κρίση 1822-1825», Θεσσαλονίκη,
  • Βήτας Αχ., Ο Αμερικανικός Φιλελληνισμός στην Ελληνική Επανάσταση, Αθήνα, 1960.
  • Booras Harris, Hellenic Independence and America’s Contribution to the Cause, Rutland, 1934.
  • Dakin D., British and American Philhellenes during the War of Greek Independence, 1821-1833, Ίδρυμα Μελετών Χερσονήσου του Αίμου, Thessaloniki, 1955.
  • Θ. Βαγενάς και Ε. Δημητρακοπούλου, Αμερικανοί Φιλέλληνες, Αθήνα, 1949.
  • Samuel Gridley Howe, Historical Sketch of the Greek Revolution, M.D. New York, 1828.
  • Samuel Gridley Howe, Letters and Journals, Boston and London, 1906.
  • Jarvis George, Letters from Greece, Γεννάδειος, Ind. 756.
  • Jarvis George, His Journal and Related Documents, 1965. Edited with introduction, prologues, sequel and notes by George Georgiades Arnakis Eurydice Demetracopoulou, Americans in the Greek Revolution, Institute for Balkan Studies, Thessaloniki, 1965.
  • Σ. Θ. Λάσκαρις, Ο Φιλελληνισμός εν Αμερική κατά την Ελληνικήν Επανάστασιν, 1926.
  • William Miller, «The Journals of Finlay and Jarvis», The English Historical Review, Vol. 41, n° 164, October, 1926.
  • Daniel Webster’s Speech, The Greek Revolution, Boston, 1824.
  • Zimmerman Carl R., Philhellenism in the American Press during the Greek Revolution, Neo-Hellenica, t. II, 1975.
  • Address of the Philhellenic Committee «For the Relief of the Greeks» to their fellow citizens, Boston 1823.
  • Michelle Arnosky Sherburne (2013). Abolition and the Underground Railroad in Vermont. The History Press. p. 93.
  • Jonathan P. Miller, in Appletons Encyclopedia.
  • Journal of the General Assembly of Vermont. Montpelier, Vermont, October 18, 1830, pg. 3, 5.
  • Delegate list, World Anti-Slavery Convention, Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  • Blackwell, Marilyn S. “‘Women were among our primeval abolitionists: Women and Organized Antislavery in Vermont, 1834–1848”. Vermont Historical Society.
  • The National Herald, article 7 September 2007, “Byron’s sword and the saga of Lucas Miltiades Miller”.
  • Jonathan Peckam Miller, The Conditions of Greece in 1827 and 1828, Harpers, New York,1828.
  • Mark Bushnell, article of 19 May 2019 “Then Again: Seeking adventure in soldiering, Randolph man found a cause”, VTDIGGER (www.vtdigger.org, contact@vtdigger.org).

 

 

Pierre-Antoine Lebrun was born in Paris on November 29, 1785 and died on May 27, 1873. He was an important poet and writer of the 19th century of the Romantic school.

He studied at the Military College of Saint-Cyr. He began his career writing works that glorified the first empire. In fact, his first work, “Ode to the Great Army” (Ode à la grande armée – 1805), attracted the attention of Napoleon, who offered him a monthly remuneration from the state. He then wrote several works: Ulysses (1814), Marie Stuart (1820), Le Cid d’Andalousie (1825). In fact, the work of Marie Stuart (which was inspired by the charm and influence that Friedrich Schiller’s works exercised on him) was admitted to be one of the most important theatrical works of Romanticism. In 1822 he published a work on the death of Napoleon, which cost him his salary. He was a friend of many personalities from the world of intellectuals, such as Honore de Balzac, Victor Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, etc.

Lebrun traveled to Greece before the Greek Revolution in 1820 on the ship Themistocles. During his trip, he heard Rigas Feraios’s Thourios for the first time. Under the command of Tombazis, this ship proclaimed the Revolution in 1821 on most Greek islands. Many philhellenes, such as the American George Jarvis, also served on this ship during the Greek revolution.

During his stay In Greece, he recorded his impressions and experiences. With this material he prepared one of his most important works, which was published in 1828 in Paris. This is a great poem entitled Le voyage de Grèce (The Journey of Greece).

In the preface of his work he describes three categories of Greeks he met in pre-revolutionary Greece: the mountaineers who had maintained their independence to some extent, the seamen who were thinking of regaining it, and the inhabitants of the plains and cities that seemed to be unable to even dream of it, because they were fully acquainted with the idea of ​​slavery.

Lebrun presents in his preface, which he wrote towards the end of the Greek Revolution, what he experienced and saw, while referring in detail to the Battle of Navarino.

Throughout the Greek Revolution, Lebrun was a supporter of the cause of the Greeks.

Pierre-Antoine Lebrun, Le Voyage de Grèce, Paris & Leipzig: Ponthieu etc Cie., 1828 (SHP Collection).

Thanks to his work Le Voyage de Grèce, Lebrun was elected member of the French Academy in 1828. In 1831 he was appointed director of the Imprimerie Royale in France, a position that he held until 1848. From 1839 to 1848 he was a member of the Council of State, and in 1853 he was elected senator.

Pierre-Antoine Lebrun’s handwritten letter (SHP Collection).

France honored him in 1836 with the Order of the Knight of the Legion of Honor, in 1839 he received a title of nobility, and in 1861 the medal of the Grand Officier of the Legion of Honor. In 1844 he was also honored by the Academy of Sciences of Bavaria.

 

Pierre-Antoine Lebrun, Le Voyage de Grèce, “The Journey of Greece”

Lito Seizani translated some representative parts of Pierre-Antoine Lebrun’s work, “The Journey of Greece”, and refers to the full of emotion poet:

“With heroic Greece, with the Greece of Europe, I often mixed the one I could call my own, the one that consists of places I saw, of people I met, of joys I experienced.”

And Lito Seizani states: “As for the poem itself? All the heroes of the Greek Revolution, as numerous as the places of the battles, parade through his lyrics. Lebrun’s lyrics are very important, I repeat, as they were written at the time the great events were taking place, they are essentially a living imprint at the same time, in literary form.

Lebrun sees ecstatic Greece for the first time in front of him and cannot hide his enthusiasm:

“Sparta was there, hidden.
And I, high up on the mast
Towards her, towards her mountains, my eyes brought in haste
And stared focused, with tension and with thirst
I looked for her all over, her name I whispered
I laughed and I cried. Freedom, glory
Leonidas, Helena, legend and history
Greece with her arts, her wise men, her heroes
Was rising in front of me on the horizon of the waves
I was facing Greece and could not believe it!
The more I felt her approaching…
At a moment like this someone else would have lost his memory!
O my heart, how you beat with this remembrance alone!

As he’s about to set foot on the land, he’s thinking:
I’m Greek just like them
Yes, this is my country
And yes, like them, I’m returning to the beloved coast
I know all the streets, I’m familiar with all the names.”
(translated by Lito Seizani).

 

And as Lito Seizani points out (litoseizani.com) “Two hundred years later, his lyrics seem to have been written today. Such are the powers of true love, of the heart that beats in the sight of a man or a place. And such is the love that Greece can give birth to, to Greeks and to foreigners”.

 

Another extract from Le Voyage de Grece follows (free translation):

“Here are the heroes
Here are the heroes, here are the worthy sons!
Botsari! The three hundred believed that they had found their leader again
Old Kolokotroni, handsome Mavromichali,
Odysseus with the eagle’s eye, flying just as fast
Tzavella, Nikita, Mitso, fearless race
You are coming that is why I see the Ottomans turn pale
In the Archipelago I saw a huge fleet fleeing
Is it, Canary, your fireships that advance?
 
Triumph! Hurry up heroic achievements
Hurry up happy times for my voice to praise you
Make the time shine when Greece is finally free
With her sun, happy, sharing the joy
In the shadow of the cross she will go to sit crowned.

People, save a people who does not deserve slavery
Whose courage puts up with terrible dangers.
Will you leave him alone against so many hangmen?
Without, unfortunately, solidarity, since he has no leader
He has no weapons, no treasures. Does it have an arsenal?
Does it have lead, iron, muskets, gunpowder?
Does it have bread? Their fight may be yours too.”

 

Pierre-Antoine Lebrun also wrote about an “anathema” while he was near Patras, a place with a pile of stones. He writes (free translation):

“Every Greek who passes there, out of weakness, outraged,
He throws one at a time, and promises to take revenge on a Turk
Every stone is a wish, every stone a curse
And it represents a sword, and it plans a death.
The curse grows, and the plain is filled. “

 

August Maximilian Myhrberg (lithograph, 1850’s)

 

August Maximilian Myhrberg was one of the two philhellenes who were born in Finland. He was born in 1797 in Raahe, a town on the west coast of Finland. Official documents most often refer to him named as a Swede, but the legend of his life, especially in relation to philhellenism, was linked to Finnish national awakening, particularly during the latter part of the nineteenth century.

After attending the local primary school in Finland, Myhrberg was sent to Uppsala in Sweden, first to a boarding school, and thereafter, in June 1815, to enrol in the university. We are told that he cherished interest in history and that he was well-versed in ancient Greek mythology, thanks to his mother Christina. In 1820 he left behind his academic studies to complete a general military service in Sweden, in order to fulfil his wish of becoming a soldier.

He left Sweden in 1823 to start a career as a freedom fighter which lasted more than a decade. His dream of becoming a freedom fighter could have resonated from Myhrberg’s admiration of Napoleon and was perhaps triggered by the news about the revolutions in South America, Spain, Italy and Greece. The motives behind Myhrberg’s decision to join the Greek War of Independence, were a combination of idealism and youthful desire for adventure, although it is difficult to glean the real reasons from the later biographical narrative which was often prone to idealisation of the historical reasons for the sake of other, circumstantial ideas. However, it is possible to follow the path of the soldier Myhrberg and his route to Greece, via Spain and France, in the light of the archival material and to reconstruct his philhellenic career in Greece from 1825 to 1831 (although the historical record does not always concord with what is told in the heroicised ‘legend’ about the life of the freedom-fighter).

Myhrberg was recruited in Marseille to Colonel Charles Fabvier’s cavalry as a soldier and started his philhellenic career in Greece in 1825 in Colonel Regnault de St. Jean d’Angely’s cavalry. Over the following six years Myhrberg spent in Greece, he rose in rank, served as an aid-de-camp of Fabvier, Major-General Thomas Gordon, Colonel Karl Wilhelm von Heideck and ended up to hold a position of the Commandant of the Palamidi fortress in Nauplion for one and half years (1829-31).

He attended the following battles and campaigns:

– at Euboea (1826),

– at Chaidari (1826 and 1827) for relieving the sieged Athens, where he was wounded,

– at Cape Colias (for which he left a preserved first-hand letter-account in the BSA Finlay-archives in Athens),

– at the land operation of Phaleron (1827), and

– at the campaign on Chios (1827-28).

In addition, Myhrberg is told in the legend of his life to have been present in Missolonghi guarding Byron’s front door when the Lord died in April 1824, and at the Acropolis in Athens during its seize in 1826-27. These last two episodes are part of the legendary biography of Myhrberg. These bibliographical details are historically impossible, but historiographically significant. In 1829 Governor Capodistrias nominated Captain Myhrberg Commandant of the Palamidi fortress in Nauplion.

Nomination letter for Myhrberg’s position as the Commandant of Palamidi signed on behalf of Governor Capodistrias by General Pisa (Swedish National Archives: Maximilian Myhrberg).

In 1831, Myhrberg left Greece and planned to volunteer as a freedom fighter in Poland’s uprising against Russia. Whether he took part in the Polish struggle is uncertain, although we have plenty of heroicising stories about his deeds in Poland and in France, where Myhrberg seems to have spent a fair deal of the 1830’s after his philhellenic career. In 1834 Myhrberg was decorated with the Greek Croix de Chevalier en argent de Ordre Royal du Saviour by King Othon (Historical Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Athens 42.113 dated in Athens 15/27 March 1835). The King of Sweden nominated him Major, in 1842 and granted him the title of Knight of the Order of the Swords. From the summer of 1843 Myhrberg spent almost five years as the Secretary of the Council on the island of St. Barthélemy in the West Indies, an island which was a Swedish Colony and free port until 1878. Myhrberg died in Stockholm in 31 March 1867 and was granted an official Swedish state burial, with full military honours at the Johannes Church graveyard in central Stockholm.

A wealth of different types of primary sources provide us with knowledge about the Philhellene Myhrberg. Archival material with numerous letter correspondence, including many letters of recommendations by his superiors, are deposited in the archives in Sweden, Finland, Greece and France. They mostly give factual information on historical Myhrberg regardless of preserved material written by Myhrberg himself being scanty. He left four different testimonials about his life, but even within and between the testimonials there is conflicting and incompatible information, particularly as compared to the official Greek testimonial. This was probably provided shortly before he left the country in 1831 or sent to him later together with, for example, the decoration of the Order of the Redeemer and its certificates (Swedish National Archives, Stockholm: Maximilian Myhrberg).

Greek testimonial on Myhrberg’s philhellenic career in Greece
(Swedish National Archives: Maximilian Myhrberg)

A great number of newspaper articles from the Finnish and Swedish press from the 1820s to the present day, recount mostly the endeavours of legendary Myhrberg. Most of them were written soon after his death and as such they contribute to the development of the narrative about him. There is a handful of relatively early first-hand accounts or memoirs of the Philhellene by those who knew him. By the latter part of the nineteenth century the first separate biographies about Myhrberg’s life were written in Finland and Sweden. In addition to these, there are adventure stories (particularly ‘for boys’), some epic poetry and even a recent fictional novel.

Cover of ‘adventure stories for boys’, Arvid Lydecken Murad Bey “Raahen poika”. Suomalaisen vapaustaistelijan seikkailuja Kreikassa (1935) (Murad Bey “The Boy from Raahe”. Finnish Freedom Fighter’s Adventures in Greece)

Among the authors of the different accounts about Myhrberg we have a gallery of the most prominent figureheads in the history of Finland. For example, the national philosopher J.V. Snellman, the poet Johan Ludwig Runeberg, the journalist and writer Zacharias Topelius (who wrote the well-known story ’A Boy from Raahe’), and the poet and cultural figurehead Fredrik Cygnaeus.

Myhrberg’s heroic reputation was developed through the less formal practices of social, cultural and political life, story-telling, gossip, news reporting, and circulation of literature about his adventures in newspapers. Heroicising biographies of Myhrberg appear in more codified form in his obituaries, in the state funeral he received and later in speeches given in his honour.

Finally, Myhrberg’s life, more or less legendarised and mythicised, was used continuously for public enlightenment where his activities and idealised persona were adopted as a model for a morally right, unselfish, and noble way of life particularly in the process of building a national myth. In this way legend of his life, especially in relation to philhellenism, was linked to Finnish national awakening particularly during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Myhrberg became, indeed, one of the most legendary figures in early modern Finnish history.

Myhrberg’s funeral 6 April 1867, Stockholm, cover of Ny Illustrerad Tidning, 20 April 1867.

Myhrberg Tomb in St. John’s Church Cemetery in Stockholm.

 

Petra Pakkanen

 

Addition by SHP:

SHP has in its archive a very important recommendation letter, issued by the Philhellene General Charles Nicolas Fabvier, on August Maximilian Myhrberg. In this letter, General Fabvier refers to Myhrberg as “intrépide et un homme de premier rang” (“fearless and a man of the first rank”). He also states : “Le soussigné déclare que Mr. Myrberg, suédois, a servi sous mes ordres en Grèce avec [.] une bravoure et un désintéressement digne des plus grandes éloges, qu’ayant voulu dès son arrivée en 1824 donner le noble et utile exemple de s’enrôler comme simple Cavalier il acquit tous les grades jusqu’à celui de Capitaine par son seul mérite, enfin que tous les étrangers qui ont servi sous mes Ordres en Grèce, nul mieux que Mr. Myrberg n’a mérité l’estime et l’amitié des habitantes et des Soldats [.]”. (English translation: “The undersigned declares that Mr. Myrberg, Swedish, served under my orders in Greece with [.] A bravery and a disinterestedness worthy of the highest praise, that having wanted from his arrival in 1824 to give the noble and useful example of s to enlist as a simple Cavalier he acquired all the ranks up to that of Captain by his sole merit, finally that all the foreigners who served under my Orders in Greece, no better than Mr. Myrberg deserved the esteem and l friendship of the inhabitants and the soldiers [.] “.)

Handwritten letter of General Fabvier, attesting the work and contribution of the great Finnish philhellene August Maximilian Myhrberg (1797-1867), SHP Collection. Fabvier refers to him as a brave, selfless man who served in the Cavalry of the Regular Corps with the rank of Captain.

The SHP and the people of Greece, pay homage to this great Philhellene, who contributed significantly to the liberation of Greece, and to the universal ideals that Hellenism advocates.

 

SOURCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  • Bruun, Patrick 1963. ‘August Maximilian Myhrberg. Legend och verklighet’, Skrifter utgivna av svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland 399 (Historiska och litteraturhistoriska studier 38), Helsingfors: SLS, 145–221.
  • Bruun, Patrick 1966. ‘Myhrberg i Grekland’, Skrifter utgivna av svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland 413 (Historiska och litteraturhistoriska studier 41), Helsingfors 1966: SLS, 133–173.
  • Cederberg, Eino 1928. August Maksimilian Myrberg. Suomalaisen vapaustaistelijan elämäntarina, Helsinki: Kirja.
  • Cygnaeus, Fredrik 1867. ‘Om A.M. Myhrberg’, Huvudstadsbladet no. 89, 16 April 1867.
  • Jägerskiöld, S. 1987–89. s.v. ‘Myhrberg, August Maximilian’ in Svensk biografiskt lexikon under redaktion av G. Nilzén, vol. 26, Stockholm: Bonnier.
  • Krohn, Julius 1875 (1887). En finsk krigarens lefnadsöden. Maximilian August Myhrbergs biografi, Stockholm: Carl Suneson.
  • Lydecken, Arvid 1935. Murad Bey “Raahen poika”. Suomalaisen vapaustaistelijan seikkailuja Kreikassa (Poikien seikkailukirjasto 61), Helsinki: Otava.
  • Pakkanen, Petra 2006. August Myhrberg and North-European Philhellenism. Building the Myth of a Hero (Papers and Monographs of the Finnish Institute at Athens 10), Helsinki: Finnish Institute at Athens.
  • Pakkanen, Petra 2008. ‘Role of philhellenism and image of Greece in nineteenth-century nation-building of Finland’, in Konstantinou, E. (ed.), Das Bild Griechenlands im Spiegel der Völker bis 18 Jahrhunderts (Philhellenistische Studien 14), Frankfurt am Main, Berlin & al.: Peter Lang, 61–88.
  • Topelius, Zacharias 1876, ‘Öfverste Fabviers Adjutant’, Sånger 2 (nya blad), Stockholm: Bonnier, 105–111.

 

 

Although this French officer was present in Greece for a log period, there are few things we know about him.

According to the biographer of the Philhellenes Henri Fornèsy, Chardon de la Barre, Louis, was born in Amiens, France. He died in Bourganeuf of illness on January 30, 1858. He was a descendant of the knight de la Barre, known for a judicial error. The knight de la Barre was the subject of an incredibly unjust condemnation by the judiciary of France in the 19th century. This conviction was considered a disgrace to French justice, while the defense of his reputation and the fruitless request for the restoration of his memory was one of Voltaire’s most glorious acts.

According to the same source, Chardon de la Barre, before coming to offer his services in the struggle for Greek independence, had taken part in twenty-seven campaigns during the French Empire and inflicted nine injuries on his body, two of which they were very serious and due to shootings.

The French newspaper Le Constitutionnel enthusiastically reports on the departure of the Greek galley from Marseilles to Spartanism, on May 27, 1826, with passengers of twenty-seven officers and non-commissioned officers, including Chardon de la Barre. At the port, at the time of departure, cheers were heard everywhere “Long live the independence and freedom of Greece”!

As soon as he arrived in Greece, in 1826, he had the honor of officially taking over an emblematic flag, sent from France. This flag was embroidered by ladies in Paris. It is worth noting here that a large part of the flags used by Greek and Philhellenic fighters were designed and sewn by French ladies as part of the actions in favor of the Greeks.

This flag was bravely held by Chardon de la Barre, for the first time, at the Battle of Haidari, on August 19 and 20 of the same year (1826), at the Battalion of the Philhellenes. Fornèsy reports that Chardon de la Barre made a vivid and graphic description of this battle, which we unfortunately do not know if it was published and where it is located.

Chardon de la Barre was a cavalry lieutenant in the Cavalry at the time of Governor Kapodistrias. During the reign of King Otto, he was appointed rapporteur of the 2nd War Council (Military Court), in which he was distinguished for his value, his unchanging stability and his incorruptible justice, for which he often had to fight against foreign demands.

He became known in Greece for his service, many incidents of which sometimes occupied the Greek press. Among them are the bilingual French newspapers Sotir and the Era in Nafplio.

According to the official newspapers of the administration, and after the reorganization of the Army by the Regency, in 1834, Chardon de la Barre was transferred from the 2nd War Council, to the 5th Infantry Battalion of the line, with the rank of captain. In 1836 he was transferred from the 5th Infantry Battalion to the 4th. In 1839, when the 4th Battalion was reorganized, it seems that he continued his service in the new formation, but at the same time he was re-employed in the War Councils, as a Captain-Rapporteur.

As an individual, he was appreciated by all his superiors, he was loved and respected by all his old colleagues. In fact, his Greek colleagues had Greekized his name and called him “Sardon”, as the historian of the Regular Army, Christos Byzantios, mentions.

Anninos states that Chardon de la Barre had the consolation to die in his humble homeland, bringing the rank and file of the retired General of the Greek Army. This reference is rather erroneous or misunderstood, and is due to the translation of Fornèsy’s handwritten word “commandant” as “commander”, a translation published in the newspaper Seventh in 1884. The word also means “major”, and given that in 1839 he was a captain, we consider this rank closer to the truth. Indeed, the Sun newspaper, a few days before Chardon de la Barre died, in its January 10, 1858 issue, referring to the philhellenes living in Greece at the time, referred to him as “a retired Major in France.” From this publication it appears that Chardon de la Barre was among the Philhellenes who lived permanently in Greece, and that they simply came and went between Greece and France, as most French Philhellenes did. Indeed, even earlier, in 1827, it appears to have returned to France for some time, according to general records in Paris.

The Chardon de la Barre was honored with the Cross of the Knights of the Legion of Honor, which he had received during the Hundred Days, the Cross of the Savior’s Officer and the Excellence of Greek Independence. He proudly called this award, which he wore with more pride, “his military staff” for his service in Greece.

Silver Excellence of the Struggle, “to the heroic defenders of the homeland”, was received during the reign of King Othon to those Greeks or Philhellenes who had participated with the rank of officer in the military operations of the Greek Revolution. This medal was the highest honor (SHP collection).

SOURCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Archives France, Affaires politiques (police politique). Objets généraux (1815-1838), F/7/6678-F/7/6784.
  • Averoff Michelle, «Les Philhellènes», Bulletin de l’Association Guillaume Budé, αρ. °3, Οκτωβρίου 1967, σελ. 312-332.
  • Άννινος Μπάμπης, Ιστορικά σημειώματα, εκδ. Εστία, Αθήνα 1925.
  • Γενική Εφημερίς, αρ. 19, 7 Ιουνίου 1834.
  • Εθνική Βιβλιοθήκη, Τμήμα Χειρογράφων και Ομοιοτύπων, χειρόγραφο 1.697: Henri Fornèsy, «Le monument des philhellènes», 1860.
  • Εφημερίδα Le Constitutionnel, αρ. φ. 131, Παρίσι, 3 Ιουνίου 1826.
  • Εφημερίδα Εβδομάς, έτος Α΄ (1884), τ. Α΄, τεύχ. 1 (χ.ημ.) έως και τεύχ. 27 (2 Σεπτεμβρίου).
  • Εφημερίδα Ήλιος, αρ. φ. 148, 10 Ιανουαρίου 1858.
  • Εφημερίς της Κυβερνήσεως του Βασιλείου της Ελλάδας, αρ. 26, 10 Ιουνίου 1836 και αρ. 4, 27 Φεβρουαρίου 1839.
  • Χρήστος Βυζάντιος, Ιστορία των κατά την Ελλην. Επανάστασιν εκστρατειών και μαχών και των μετά ταύτα συμβάντων, ων συμμετέσχεν ο Τακτικός Στρατός, από του 1821 μέχρι του 1833, χ.ε., Αθήνα 1901

 

 

Colonel Olivier Voutier is another well-known French Philhellene officer who took part in the Greek War for Independence, promoted the cause of the Greeks throughout Europe with his writing, and contributed to the expansion of the philhellenic movement internationally.

He was born in Thouars, on the suburbs of Poitou, France, on May 30, 1796. He developed political activity and associated himself with the family of Emperor Napoleon III. At the same time, he was a writer with a literary work.

He enlisted in the French Navy at the age of just 15, being urged for this by his father. There, he received a multidisciplinary education and was introduced, among other things, to the plastic arts and design, which prompted him to develop, moreover, the status of an amateur archaeologist.

When the Greek Revolution broke out, “Mr. Voutier”, as his comrades-in-arms called him, had just lost a loved one, which had crushed him psychologically. Disappointed, he was looking for a noble cause, and left to fight in Greece. He ranked, as he confirms himself, among the first foreign officers who came to join the Struggle for liberation of the Greeks. He left Marseille on August 1, 1821, on a ship chartered by another important British Philhellene, Colonel Thomas Gordon from Scotland, carrying weapons and ammunition. A month later, he sailed to Hydra. There, he assisted the Greeks in their attempt to set up two artillery units at the entrance of the port, as he himself was an officer specialized in Artillery.

Lithography, early 19th century. A French officer trains Greeks in the use of cannons (SHP Collection).

He then went to Astros and finally he arrived at Dimitrios Ypsilantis’ camp. There, he was impressed by the poverty of the soldiers, most of whom were armed with damaged rifles. Voutier took over the “command of the operations” of the Artillery during the siege of Tripolitsa. He set up an artillery unit near the city’s small fortress and reinforced the siege. In his Memoirs he cites the information that he had “five canons, two of which were of eighteen liters, and two were mortars”. He even mentions that the Greeks “liked very much to see fired shells falling”, that they filled the canons with shells and they were targeting recklessly. After the fall of Tripolitsa, Voutier left for Patras and then for a tour in the Cyclades. Afterwards, he returned to Argos and participated in the siege of Nafplion, while at the end of December 1821 he left with Ypsilantis for the siege of the Acrocorinth. There he carried “two canons of twelve liters”, which he had brought from Hydra. From there, he joined the Battalion of the Philhellenes and took part in the Battle of Peta in 1822. In 1823 he returned to France, where he published his Memoirs.

Memoirs of Colonel Olivier Voutier, Paris, first edition, 1823, SHP Collection.

In 1824 he returned to Greece to leave soon and return again in 1826. In November 1826, he participated with the French Philhellene Raybaud, in a military operation (which failed) in Atalanti under the guidance of Ioannis Kolettis. His relationship with this French officer was competitive and bad. These differences led the two men to fight a duel, and they were both wounded. Voutier left Greece permanently in 1827.

This French officer believed that the Greeks deserved the sympathy of the Europeans, even if many times their attitude was disappointing. He fully understood their shortcomings, as he admits, and justified them. In his Memoirs, the French officer Olivier Voutier describes the historical course of the Greeks and the generative factors which led to the formation of the groups of Thieves (Kleftes), while at the same time he appears to be deeply religious. He fully understands the differences between the Greeks and the Turks, the sufferings of the Greek nation and the causes that led to the Revolution. At the same time, he puts forward the idea that strong and courageous faith were the means that helped the Greek people maintain their virtues and survive after so many atrocities. In a similar way, he understands the brutality of the war, as he realizes that these were horrific retaliations committed by both sides. However, like many other philhellenes, he criticizes the “predation of the leaders” and their tendency of looting as tactics, which did not allow the loots, coming from the successful battles and sieges, to enter the public treasury to help the Administration support the Struggle exercising policies centrally.

In an even more sincere spirit, he describes the pure and almost naive reaction of the population in front of the passage of the Philhellenes from the villages. The Greek population was excited, they ran in groups in front of the Philhellenes; the women saw them as angels who came from heaven to save them and the men greeted them with gunshots from their rifles. In these descriptions, he was sometimes criticized by his French compatriots, who accused him of exaggerating his role in his Memoirs,or even of inventing some of the facts he described.

Voutier is also the author of another work related to Greece, which, in fact, was published “in favor of Greece”, that is, in order for the revenues from its publication to be donated in favor of the Struggle of the Greeks. This is a collection, which includes letters to the Philhellene Mrs. Récamier (Voutier was frequently in her famous literary salon in France), documents about his office in the Army and evidence of his services (in order to refute the suspicions that, as mentioned above, “some wanted to create, accusing him of insincerity in his narratives”). This collection also contains translations of Greek traditional songs of military content. However, the most important part of this book is the “Study on the Regular Corps of Greece”. Voutier argues there that the model of warfare adopted by the Greeks (that is, the guerrilla type of warfare, which is based on the knowledge of the enemy’s means and habits), “does not require any other kind of soldiers than the Greek palikaria”. He also claims that “the freedom of the Greeks depends more on the war at sea, than on the war on the mainland”. Voutier’s study is indicative of the fact that Philhellenes recognized that the Greek guerilla mode was best-adapted to the morphology of Greek territory and that it was ideal against an enemy with overwhelming numerical superiority.

After the appointment of Alexandros Mavrokordatos as President of the Executive Body, in 1822, Voutier was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Along with Maxime Raybaud and François Graillard, he was appointed aide-de –camp of Mavrokordatos, and head of a small Artillery Corps, which disposed of two cannons. While the Regular Army was under the orders of Panagiotis Rodios in 1824, Voutier was promoted to Colonel. He was appointed commander of the Artillery Corps, which consisted of 100 men, who were in charge of managing and using the cannons of the Nafplion fortress. Voutier was highly regarded by the Greek government and was honored with the Medal of the Knight of the Golden Cross of the Order of the Redeemer.

Before coming to Greece in 1821, Olivier Voutier was directly involved in the discovery of the statue of Aphrodite of Milos (known today internationally as the Venus of Milo), in April 1820, and played a key role for the statute to end up at the Louvre Museum.

In April 1820, Voutier was 23 years old and a member of the crew of the French navy’s training ship “Estafette”. When the boat reached the island of Milos, Voutier asked a local resident named Kentrotas, to help him dig the ground of an ancient Greek temple to look for ancient artifacts. By chance, when night fell, they found the statue of Aphrodite of Milos. Kentrotas and the elder citizens of Milos then decided to sell the statue. Voutier and another French officer with a classical education, Dumont d’Urville, wrote to the French ambassador in Constantinople, Marquis de Riviere, and persuaded him to buy the statute, a purchase which finally took place on May 22, 1820. In fact, in the meantime, the Ottoman Empire had reacted, punishing the inhabitants who did not surrender the statute to it, and France paid an additional compensation in September 1820 to cover the fines imposed on Milos. The historical research (D. Chalkoutsakis, etc.), based on the testimonies of the people involved and six letters from French officers and executives, which were published in the French press in 1874, confirms that Voutier remained in France best known for this important discovery (which offered to the Louvre one of its most important exhibits), and less for his participation in the Struggle for Greek Independence.

This act of the purchase and appropriation of this important archeological monument from its birthplace, is evaluated negatively with the standards of today. This statute was donated by King Louis XVIII of France to the Louvre, and has been (and still is) one of its most emblematic exhibits, which among others promoted to the French public the beauty of the classical culture of Greece. In fact, this statute was another element catalyst for the expansion of the philhellenic movement in France and Europe, and the cultivation of the idea that Greece deserved to be liberated and that this was Europe’s duty. Ιτ prompted thousands of other young people, to take political, social, or even military action on the side of the Greeks.

Olivier Voutier was one of them and he was very proud of his involvement in the Struggle for Independence. He even asked for his tombstone to refer to it, and it indeed invites us to remember him as a “hero of the Greek Independence”. He died on April 19, 1877 in Hyères, Provence, France.

In his honor, a street in Athens (Filopappou area) bears his name: “Voutier Street”.

The Tomb of Olivier Voutier in Hyères, Provence.

BIBLIOGRAPHY AND SOURCES

  • Lemaire Jean, «Autour d’Olivier Voutier», ανακοίνωση σε συνέδριο της Société Hyéroise d’Histoire et d’Archéologie (16 Νοεμβρίου 2010), διαθέσιμη στην ιστοσελίδα http://www.as-lashha.com/medias/files/2010-11-16-cf-jl-voutier.pdf όπου και ένα πορτρέτο του Voutier, καθώς και φωτογραφία του τάφου του και αλλά και του δισέγγονου του Voutier κατά την επίσκεψή του στη Μήλο το
  • Persat Maurice, Mémoires du commandant Persat, 1806 à 1844, εκδ. Plon-Nourrit et Cie, Παρίσι
  • Voutier Olivier, Lettres sur la Grèce – Notes et chants populaires, extraits du portefeuille du colonel Voutier, εκδ. Firmin Didot père et fils – Ponthieu – Bossange frères – Delaunay, Παρίσι
  • Voutier Olivier, Mémoires du colonel Voutier sur la guerre actuelle des grecs, εκδ. Bossange frères, Παρίσι
  • Αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας, Απόφαση υπ’ αριθμόν 102 του Προέδρου του Εκτελεστικού με ημερομηνία 10Μαΐου 1822.
  • Ζούβας Παναγής, Η οργάνωσις Τακτικού Στρατού κατά τα πρώτα έτη της Επαναστάσεως του 1821, χ.ε., Αθήνα 1969.
  • Ιστορία της οργανώσεως του Ελληνικού Στρατού, 1821-1954, εκδ. ΓΕΣ, Αθήνα 1955.
  • Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Στρατού, 1821-1997, εκδ. ΓΕΣ/ΔΙΣ, Αθήνα 1997.
  • Ιστορία των κατά την Ελλην. Επανάστασιν εκστρατειών και μαχών και των μετά ταύτα συμβάντων, ων συμμετέσχεν ο Τακτικός Στρατός, από του 1821 μέχρι του 1833, χ.ε., Αθήνα 1901.
  • Φορνέζι Ερρίκος, Το μνημείον των Φιλελλήνων, εκδ. Χ. Κοσμαδάκης & σία, Αθήνα 1968 [Απομνημονεύματα αγωνιστών του ΄21, τ. 20].
  • Χαλκουτσάκης Μ. Γιάννης, Η ιστορία της Αφροδίτης της Μήλου, χ.ε., Αθήνα 1988.

 

 

With a wooden horse, a Trojan Horse 6 meters high and weighing 3 tons that volunteers built in the birthplace of Hector Berlioz, the Berlioz Festival began in his birthplace of La Côte Saint-André, near Grenoble, dedicated to the 160 anniversary of his death, March 8, 1869, at the age of 66.

The Trojan Horse as a symbol of the composer’s favorite work, inspired by Virgil, “The Trojans”.

Héctor Berlioz was born on December 11, 1803, ten years before Wagner and Verdi. His parents were the 27-year-old Louis Berlioz of La Côte Saint André in Isère, who died in 1848 without ever hearing his music, and Marie-Antoinette-Josephine, daughter of Nicolas Marmion, a lawyer from Meylan. Hector was the first of six children.

His father was his first music teacher and in 1815, when he was 12 years old, he taught him music lessons. A rare case for a great composer, Berlioz was not taught piano, but flute and guitar.

Due to his father’s persistence, he enrolled in 1821 at the Medical School in Paris. After two barren years, he persuaded his father to help him enroll in the Conservatoire and study composition and counterpoint.

As early as 1825, he would present his work “Grande Messe Solennelle” in the church of Saint-Roch in Paris, with 150 musicians and choristers, conducting himself. For this concert he tried to borrow money from Chateaubriand, whom he admired together with his closest friend of his youth, Humbert Ferrand. The value of his work has gained some recognition, but also an enemy similar to Salieri: the director of the Paris Conservatory, L. Cherubini (composer of « Medea”).

Deeply liberal, but also spiritually philhellene, a connoisseur like any educated Frenchman, then and now, of Greek classical history and literature, he sides from the beginning with the Greek struggle for independence. Literature in general plays a big role in his life and musical creation. He loves two great Britons: Shakespeare and Lord Byron, but also a German, Goethe. A famous Shakespearean actress, Harriet Smithson, will become his first wife.

Berlioz’s favorite Lord Byron’s work was none other than Child Harold’s Pilgrimage, perhaps the most critical work on the development of the Philhellenic movement. Byron’s tragic death in Messolonghi, April 19, 1824, and the terrible effect on his psyche of Eugene Delacroix’s famous painting “The Massacre of Chios”, which was publicly exhibited at the Salon de Paris in August of that year, shocked him.

A close friend of a lifetime, lawyer Humbert Ferrand (1805-1868), shared his ideas and wrote, in 1825, the poem “The Greek Revolution” (Scène Héroïque: La Révolution Grècque), which Berlioz composed for two Bass soloists, Choir and Orchestra. The music is in the style of Spontini, the imperial composer of La Vestale, as the young Berlioz himself proudly pointed out.

The text of the poem is extremely interesting, mainly because it highlights the way in which a liberal poet sees the Greek Revolution, that is, from the point of view of the Hellenism – Christian view that was its heroes view.

The original and direct children of the Enlightenment, who were Ferrand and Berlioz, thus contrast with later intellectual obsessional constructions.

At the beginning of the play, a Greek Hero invokes the awakening of the children of Sparta that Leonidas calls from his grave to rise up for their freedom! Then a priest invokes Constantine the Great and then the two together, in the name of the latter, call on the Greeks (Hellènes in the text) to revolt.

Eugene Delacroix: Le massacre de Chios, 1824

Berlioz found it very difficult to present the work because Rodolphe Kreutzer, the well-known great violinist who was then Director of the Paris Opera, as a true exponent of the establishment, did not even want to hear about the presentation of a then unknown composer. In vain the famous composer Le Sieur, and even the famous Comte de La Rochefoucauld intervened to the unassailable Kreutzer. Finally, Berlioz produced it himself on May 26, 1828.

Berlioz found it very difficult to be recognized in his home country, France. Despite his success in winning, in his third attempt, the famous Prix de Rome in 1830, but also some recognition brought by the Symphonie Fantastique in the same year, which won him a loyal friend, the most generous composer to his fellow craftsmen throughout the history of music, Franz Liszt, he had to write music reviews to live.

Another composer, Paganini, will order him a viola concerto for 20,000 francs. Berlioz draws from Byron again and writes the famous symphonic work “Harold in Italy”, which Paganini will never execute, unknown why.

Humbert Ferrand (1805-1868)

In December 1837, he presented his own Requiem at the memorial service for General Damrémon, who was killed in Algeria, with 200 musicians and 200 choirs, at the church of Saint-Louis des Invalides.

Following repeated failures of his opera Benvenuto Cellini and Faust’s Damnation, translated from Goethe’s masterpiece by Gérard de Nerval, he will be forced to seek recognition abroad. In Germany, a guest of Liszt in Weimar, who even organized two « Berlioz weeks” in 1852 and 1853. He directed his works in ten cities in Germany, in Prague, Budapest, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Riga and 4 times in London, with which he developed a special relationship due to his love for Shakespeare and Lord Byron.

From April to April 1856-68 he wrote his leading work, Les Troyens, in his own libretto inspired from Virgil. A work in five acts lasting more than four hours. The Paris Opera, while accepting at the beginning, did not presented it in the end! Berlioz sadly had to present only the last three acts in the smaller Théâtre Lyrique, with the title “Les Troyens à Carthage” in November 1863. The entire opera will be performed for the first time after his death in Karlsruhe, Germany, under the direction of the famous Felix Mottl, in 1890!

In Paris, the entire work will be performed for the first time only in 2003, at the Théâtre du Châtelet under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner. Fate wanted a Greek, Yannis Kokkos, to direct, stage and costume design! He will state in connection with the suicide of the Trojan women in the second act of the play: “In this suicide I saw the influence from the Greek history of 1821, which had greatly influenced European artists. In group suicide, Berlioz gives an echo of Messolonghi or Zalongo ».

I remember with emotion the first performance at the Bastille Opera, under Myung-Whun Chung with some small cuts, at the opening of the theater in 1990.

After the Trojans he will compose the choral work « Le Temple Universel », where he prophesies that “Europe will one day have only one flag” (1861) and the opera “Beatrice and Benedict”, based on Shakespeare’s « Much ado about Nothing” (1862).

Two major blows to his life will follow: the death of his second wife, Maria Recio, of a heart attack at the age of 48, in 1862, and the death of his son Louis, captain of a merchant ship, of yellow fever, in Havana, in 1867. Berlioz died on March 8, 1869, at his home in Paris after a stroke.

The work of this great composer and philhellene will find its recognition 90 years after his death. London, which he loved so much, will be the city of the great performances of his works. Starting with the production of the Trojans in Covent Garden in 1957, conducted by Rafael Kubelik and directed by Sir John Gielgud. Sir Colin Davis’, his greatest champion will produce and record almost everything Berlioz had composed, followed by John Nelson and John Eliot Gardiner.

Here is how Isma Toulatou presents in BIMA the performance of “Faust’s Damnation” directed by Maurice Bejart, a Paris Opera production in Epidaurus in 1965:

“The performances of Berlioz’s” La Damnation de Faust “given by the Paris Opera on July 31 and August 1, 1965 at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus, directed and choreographed by Maurice Bejart, surpassed domestic interest. Logical: It was the first appearance of the famous Company abroad in its full composition since its previous “excursion” to Japan concerned only its protagonists. This time, however, the entire potential would travel, from artists to technicians, which created a sense of anticipation.

“Four railway vehicles with the sets of Berlioz’s opera « La Damnation de Faust » have already arrived in Athens in view of the Paris Opera’s performance at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus as part of the Greek Tourism Organization’s artistic events,” (Vima July 21, 1965), describing the impending performance as “the greatest theatrical venture with the participation of the famous institution”. For the presentation of the work, we read in another part of the report, “314 technicians and artists of the Paris Opera and 164 technicians and administrative staff will collaborate. Four aircraft were deployed to transport French singers, dancers and technicians, and an air bridge will be created on the night of July 25-26 between the French city of Orange – where the group appears – and the Athens airport.

The “Greek Revolution” was presented at the Megaron in 2011 by the Symphony Orchestra of the Municipality of Athens, under Eleftherios Kalkanis and in 2019 by Byron Fidetzis, at the OLYMPIA Theater with the Philharmonia.

Lucas Karytinos and Camerata have prepared the work for the Megaron in 2020.

The great composer’s and philhellene’s Hector Berlioz works are now a constant part of the international repertoire, but for Greeks his work is even more important, as he is inspired entirely by the love of beauty and freedom, the high human ideals that make up the legacy of Hellenism.

You can watch a performance of “The Greek Revolution” here.

The original text in French follows:

 

Scène héroïque (La révolution grecque)

I. Récit et Air

Héros Grec: Lève-toi, fils de Sparte! allons!… N’entends-tu pas
Du tombeau de Léonidas
Une voix accuser ta vengeance endormie?
Trop longtemps de tes fers tu bénis l’infamie,
Et sur l’autel impur d’un Moloch effronté
On te vit, le front ceint de mépris et de honte,
Préparer, souriant comme aux jours d’Amathonte,
L’holocauste sanglant de notre liberté.
Ô mère des héros, terre chérie,
Dont la splendeur s’éteint sous l’opprobre et le deuil!
Ce sang qui crie en vain, ce sang de la patrie,
Nourrit de vils tyrans l’indolence et l’orgueil!
Ô mère des héros, terre chérie.

II. Choeur Prêtre Grec:

Mais la voix du Dieu des armées
A répandu l’effroi dans leurs rangs odieux.
Hellènes! rassemblez vos tribus alarmées;
L’astre de Constantin a brillé dans les cieux:
A ses clartés victorieuses, marchez en foule à l’immortalité!
Prêtre Grec et Héros Grec: Hellènes! rassemblez vos tribus alarmées;
L’astre de Constantin a brillé dans les cieux.
Prêtre Grec: A ses clartés victorieuses,
Héros! marchez en foule à l’immortalité!
Et demain de nos monts les cimes glorieuses
Verront naître l’aurore avec la liberté.
Héros Grec et Choeur: A ses clartés victorieuses,
Héros / Guerriers, marchons en foule à l’immortalité, etc.
Prêtre Grec et Choeur: Oui, la voix du Dieu des armées, etc.

III. Prière

Femmes: Astre terrible et saint, guide les pas du brave!
Que les rayons vaincus du croissant qui te brave
S’éteignent devant toi!
Héros, Prêtre, Choeur: Astre terrible et saint, etc.
Femmes: Que les fils de Sion, riches de jours prospères,
De la liberté sainte et du Dieu de leurs pères
Sans crainte bénisse la loi!
Choeur: Que les fils de Sion, etc.

IV. Final

Héros, Prêtre, Choeur: Des sommets de l’Olympe aux rives de l’Alphée
Mille échos en grondant roulent le cri de mort:
Partons /Partez !… le monde entier prépare le trophée
Que nous promet un si beau sort.
Quel bruit sur ces bords expire?…
Tyrtée éveille sa lyre,
Et la Grèce, en ce jour, oppose à ses bourreaux
Tout ce que son beau ciel éclaire de héros.
Ils s’avancent… et la victoire Rayonne sur leurs fronts poudreux;
La terre, belle encor de son antique gloire,
Retentit sous leurs pas nombreux.
Partons / Partez!… Des sommets, etc.
Aux armes!… le ciel résonne…
Harpes d’or, marquez nos pas!
Peuples!… guerriers!… l’airain tonne.
Nos fers ont soif de combats! Aux armes!

 

FOTIS PAPATHANASIOU

 

 

Heinrich Treiber was born in 1796 in Meiningen, Germany and was of aristocratic descent. He was the son of a court pharmacist, he studied medicine at the universities of Iena, Munich and Wuertzburg, and specialized in surgery at the University of Paris.

Young Treiber was inspired by the struggle for independence of the Greeks, and he decided to go to Greece as a volunteer. On December 31, 1821, he left from Livorno, Italy, along with 36 other philhellenes, on the ship “Pegasus”, of the Zakynthian Vitalis, which was flying a Russian flag. After a twenty-day journey, they arrived in Messolonghi, to take part in the Greek Revolution.

From that day on, Treiber began to write down into his personal diary everything that had happened to him over the next six years, that is, until April 23, 1828, the day he took over the management of the military hospital in Acronafplia. It is his personal impressions and judgments that reveal some, behind the scenes, of the Struggle and the role that the Philhellenes played in it. At the same time, Treiber’s diary is an important historical source for the period of the Greek Revolution.

On January 13, 1822, Treiber landed in Messolonghi, and from there he arrived in Corinth, where he became a doctor in the Regular Corps (1st Greek Heavy Infantry Regiment).

With the Regular Corps he took part in the following battles and operations:

– In Kompoti and Peta (4 July 1822). In these battles, the Regular Corps under the Italian colonel Tarella, fought along with Markos Botsaris and his corps, the battalion of the Philhellenes under the command of General Norman and the battalion of the Ionian Islands. The battle had an unfortunate end and the majority of the Philhellenes were slaughtered by the Turks. Treiber just managed to escape. However, he lost all his personal belongings and even his surgical instruments, which at that time were hard to find in Greece.

– Military operations in the mountains of Salona (1-15 September 1822), Hani of Gravia, etc.

– By order of Dimitrios Ypsilantis, the Regular Corps undertook the defense of the Great Dervenia (Kakia Skala) pass.

– He took part in the siege of Nafplion (October – December 1822). The siege was under the direct command of Nikitaras and the general supervision of Kolokotronis.

During the civil confrontations among Greeks, Treiber remained in Greece, practicing medicine in Nafplio, Kranidi and elsewhere.

– In February 1824, Treiber enlisted in the military corps organized by Lord Byron in Messolonghi, as a military doctor in the “artillery” battalion.

On April 1824 Lord Byron fell ill. Treiber was a member of the medical team trying to cure him. On 19 April Lord Byron died. Treiber undertook, with the personal doctor of Lord Byron, an autopsy and then they embalmed the body.

– In October 1824, the Regular Corps was reorganized by Rodios and then by Fabvier, and Treiber resumed his duties as a military doctor. He then founded a hospital in Nafplio.

– In June 1825, Ibrahim Pasha attacked Nafplio with an army of 6,000 men, but was repulsed. There were many injured, who were treated by Treiber.

– In September 1825, the Regular Corps with the new commander Fabvier attempted to liberate Tripolitsa without success. Treiber was also involved in the operation.

– In October, the Regular Corps left Peloponnese for Athens, where Treiber establishes a hospital.

– In February 1826, Fabvier began a campaign in Evia, with the Regular Corps, in which Treiber also participated. First in Chalkis and then in Karystos. The number of injured was high and Treiber treated again their wounds.

– In June 1826, Treiber resigned from the Regular Corps and assumed the position of doctor in the Dervenia military camp under the command of Karaiskakis.

– In August, Treiber leaves with Karaiskakis’ corps for the Athens area. A number of battles took place around Haidari. Treiber established a hospital in Koulouri.

– On 6 November 1826, Treiber took part in the battle of Dombraina with the corps of Karaiskakis.

– In February 1827, Treiber took part in the landing operation at Castella under Colonel Gordon, along with the corps of Makrygiannis and of I. Notaras as well as the Regular Corps, with an aim to break the siege of the Acropolis by Kioutachis.

In the battle of Analatos “1,200 Greeks and all the Philhellenes fell”, as Treiber states in his diary. He had established a hospital in Ambelakia, Salamis, to treat the soldiers, and he provided medical care to the wounded, who were transported there from the battlefield.

– On 24 April 1827, the body of Karaiskakis, who had been killed the day before in Faliro, was brought to Ambelakia. Treiber accompanied his body to Koulouri, where the funeral took place.

– In June 1827, Treiber was assigned the post of ship’s doctor on the steamer Karteria, after an invitation by its commander, the great British Philhellene Abney Hastings.

– For the next 8 months, Treiber took part in all of Karteria’s operations. Karteria plowed all the seas. From the gulf of Corinth, to the Ionian Sea, to the sea of ​​Kythera, to the Aegean Sea and even as far as the coasts of Africa.

Together with the rest of the fleet, it patrolled these seas and imposed a naval blockade on the areas where hostilities were taking place.

– On 29 September 1827, Karteria, together with another boat, the “Sotir” and 5 other smaller ships, combatted with a Turkish fleet in the Gulf of Salona and set fire to 9 Turkish ships, including the Turkish flagship, while capturing another one (the naval battle of Agali).

– On 4 March 1828, Hastings submitted his resignation from the command of Karteria and two days later Treiber left as well. A little later, Hastings returned to his post and took part in a last operation in Messolonghi, where he was injured in the left shoulder. Unfortunately, Treiber was not there to cure him and it was too late to find another doctor, and this other great Philhellene succumbed to his injuries.

In late April 1828, Treiber became director of the Acronafplia Military Hospital (Its Kale).

When Kapodistria’s assassination took place, Treiber himself performed the autopsy and signed the relevant forensic report. He even had the sad privilege of embalming the dead body of Kapodistrias.

It is certain that this great Philhellene saved thousands of wounded and ill Greeks during the liberation struggle of 1821, in a country (Greece) where every notion of hospitalization and hospital care was at that time non-existent.

In order to describe what health services consisted of during the revolutionary period, we will use an excerpt from the work of Christos Byzantios, “History of the Regular Army”, which describes the battle of Karystos (1826), in which he himself was wounded. The only doctor there was Treiber. “The wounded,” writes Byzantiios, “advanced as best they could. Some were carried, others were helped by those who happened to be present, to reach the surgeon there. The sight of first aid offered by Chief Surgeon Treiber, was horrific. About two hundred wounded, lying on the ground in a lemon grove, moaning loudly, especially those wounded by gunfire. There was a wooden door placed on stones, used as a surgical table, on which the wounded lay. The chief surgeon, had rolled up his sleeves, and he was mercilessly cutting off the wounded members of the wounded and then wrapping them with bandage. At that moment, when I was placed myself on the bank, I saw this always worthy Philhellene surgeon, exhausted by fatigue and hunger, holding with his bloody hands and eating a small piece of bread”.

However, it was not only the provision of first aid to the wounded that concerned Treiber, but also, as Epam. Stasinopoulos states, their treatment, which usually took place in the hospitable houses of the villagers. But the villagers were accepting only the lightly injured, because there was a superstition that those who died from the wounds of the war turned then into vampires. It often took the doctor’s and the elders’ confirmation that the injured person was not going to die in order for him to be allowed to enter the house.

In 1831 Treiber married Santa Origoni, the daughter of Domenico Origoni from Corsica, and Francesca Agapiou from Athens. Origonis was a former officer of Napoleon Bonaparte, who had taken refuge in Greece since 1814.

In 1835, Treiber moved with his family to Athens, where he was assigned to organize and reform the Army’s Medical Corps, of which he became the first Chief.

Two-storey neoclassical house with gable at the crown. This is the home of the German doctor Heinrich Treiber, Asomaton Square (Biris, page 93)

Treiber participated in the design (by the architect Weiler) of the A’ Military Hospital (in Makrygiannis), and also in the design of the Municipal Hospital of Athens. He was the founder of the Military Pharmacy Warehouse.

In the foreground, the two-storey mansion with the gable at the crown was on Kriezotou and Zalokosta streets. At the center of the photo are the Old Palace, today’s Greek Parliament. Left: The Royal Military Pharmacy Warehouse 1 Akadimias Street and Vasilissis Sofias Avenue (then Ampelokipon Street and later Kifisias Street) Architects: Hans Christian Hansen [1803 – 1883] – Uprising: 1836 -1840 (Photographer: Henri Beck, 1804 – 1883).

He was one of the first teachers of the “Practical School of Surgery, Pharmacopoeia and Obstetrics” and in 1837 he was appointed “honorary” professor at the newly established University of Athens for teaching surgery.

Treiber was also appointed member of the Health Policy Congress, which defined the health policy of the country, and served as its president.

In 1842 he was appointed physician to King Othon.

Henry Treiber, portrait from the History of the Medical School. Centenary 1837-1937. National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

It is worth noting that medical science in Greece owes to the great Philhellene and scientist the introduction of anesthesiology, which upgraded treatment practices and removed pain during treatment.

On 16 October 1846, the American W. Morton administered ethereal anesthesia to a patient at Massachusetts General Hospital. A few months later, on 10 April 1847, the first anesthesia with ether was administered in Greece by Heinrich Treiber (first professor of surgery in Greece), Chief Physician, and Nikolaos Petsalis, Physician, at the Athens Military Hospital, and the press of the time deified them. Also, Heinrich Treiber administered the first obstetric anesthesia in Greece, at the Athens Public Maternity Hospital, administering anesthesia with ether to a pregnant woman together with the obstetrician Nikolaos Kostis, the first professor of Obstetrics at the University of Athens.

When the great cholera epidemic struck Athens in 1854, and the streets of the city were deserted, the great Philhellene was the only one who crossed the streets on horseback many times every day to be present at the hospital or wherever else he was called, until he was also contaminated by the disease.

Treiber continued to serve in the Army for many years, advancing to the rank of Senior Chief Surgeon, and was demobilized in 1864.

He was awarded various decorations and medals. Among them are the Greek Golden Cross (1834), the Commander (1849), and Grand Officer (1876) of the Order of the Redeemer.

Medal of the Order of the Savior, during the reign of Othon.

Treiber also received the medal of Commander of the Order of St. Stanislaus of Russia (1859), of Commander of the Order of St. Michael from the King of Bavaria (1858), the Golden Medal of the Duke of Oldenburg, and the Iron Medal of the Order of the Constitution of 3 September 1843. However the decoration, which he was most proud of, was the silver medal of Excellence of the Greek Revolution.

Silver Excellence of the Struggle, “to the heroic defenders of the homeland”, was received during the reign of King Othon to those Greeks or Philhellenes who had participated with the rank of officer in the military operations of the Greek Revolution. This medal was the highest honor

In addition to his diary, Treiber left two lists, one with 59 names of other Philhellenes he met in Greece and another one with 102 names of Philhellenes who died in action or died of other causes in Greece.

From his marriage to Santa Origoni, Traiber had six children.

His eldest daughter, Rosa, married Peter Chiappe, the son of another Philhellene who fought in Greece during the 1821 Revolution, Joseph Chiape.

He died in Athens in 1882 at the age of 86.

It is a great honor for SHP to have in its Advisory Board two descendants of this great Philhellene, to whom Greece owes so much.

Sources and Bibliography

  • Αποστολίδης Χρήστος Ν. “ΕΡΡΙΚΟΣ ΤΡΑΙΜΠΕΡ ΦΙΛΕΛΛΗΝ Αναμνήσεις από την Ελλάδα 1822-1828”, Αθήνα 1960.
  • Barth Wilhelm – Kehrig-Korn Max, Die Philhellenenzeit, Muenchen, 1960.
  • Χρήστος Βυζάντιος (αξιωματικός του Πεζικού της Γραμμής), Ιστορία του Τακτικού Στρατού της Ελλάδος (1821 – 1832), Αθήνα, τυπογραφείο Ράλλη, 1837.
  • Μαρκέτος Σπ. – Σταυρόπουλος Αριστ. Ο φιλελληνισμός της εθνεγερσίας εφ. ΚΑΘΗΜΕΡΙΝΗ 25 Μαρτίου 1988.
  • Μοσχωνάς Αντώνιος. Δύο φιλέλληνες στρατιωτικοί ιατροί, Ερρίκος Τράϊμπερ και Αντώνιος Λίνδερμάγιερ. Περιοδικό Παρνασσός. τομ. ΚΘ’, αρ. 3, Ιούλιος – Σεπτέμβριος 1987.
  • Στασινόπουλος Επαμ. Αι αναμνήσεις του φιλέλληνος ιατρού Ερρίκου Τράϊμπερ εφ. ΚΑΘΗΜΕΡΙΝΗ 4 Ιανουαρίου 1961.
  • Γ. Δρουγολίνος, επιμ. (13 Μαΐου 1882). Έσπερος, Τομ. 2, Έτος Β’, τεύχ. 25. Λειψία.
  • Εθνικόν και Καποδιστριακόν Πανεπιστήμιον Αθηνών (1939). Αριστοτέλης Κούζης, επιμ. Εκατονταετηρίς 1837 – 1937, Τόμος Γ’, Ιστορία της Ιατρικής Σχολής. Αθήναι: Τύπος «Πυρσού» Α.Ε. Ανακτήθηκε στις 25 Μαΐου 2010.
  • Η αναισθησία τον 19ο αιώνα στην Ελλάδα, Αρμένη Κωνσταντίνα, Κορρέ Μαρία, Θεολογής Θωμάς, Παπαδόπουλος Γεώργιος, Αναισθησιολογική Κλινική Ιατρικής Σχολής Πανεπιστημίου Ιωαννίνων, ΙΑΤΡΙΚΑ ΧΡΟΝΙΚΑ ΒΟΡΕΙΟΔΥΤΙΚΗΣ ΕΛΛΑΔΟΣ 2011, Τόμος 8, Τεύχος 1.
  • Εφημερίδα ΑΙΩΝ, Αθήνα 1882, Λόγος επιτάφιος, εκφωνηθείς εν τω Α’ Νεκροταφείω Αθηνών τη 14 Απριλίου 1882, εις τον Φιλέλληνα Ερρίκον Τραϊμπερ, υπό του αρχιάτρου Περικλέους Σούτσου.

 

 

 

Colonel Auguste Hilarion Touret was one of the noblest figures of a philhellene.

Hilarion Touret was born in the city of Sarguémines, France in 1797. On 22 September 1811, he enlisted in the French army of the First Empire as a volunteer in the 2nd Regiment of Hussars. He received one after the other all the ranks of the military hierarchy to become on 9 January 1822 a Lieutenant. He served under the orders of Colonel Pellion, who later served as commander of the Greek Regular Cavalry, and participated in the campaigns of Prussia and Saxony in 1813, France in 1814, and Belgium in 1815.

During Napoleon’s war operations, he rescued the Cavalry General, Nansouty, and three of his officers. For this brave act he was bestowed by the medal of the Legion of Honor. Then, in the battle at Arcis-sur-Aube, Touret was injured in his right hand. In 1823 he participated in the Spanish campaign as an adjutant of General Bruny. For his participation in this campaign, he was honored with the medal of the Order of St. Ferdinand.

Then he returned to his homeland, and got excited by the struggle for the independence of Greece. He resigned from the French army on 8 November 1825, and prepared his trip to Greece. He reached his destination on 9 September 1826.

He received the rank of Major in the Greek Regular Army on 9 October 1826 and was placed under the command of Ioannis Kolettis. He participated in the campaign that the latter organized at Atalanti on 18 November 1826, in charge of 50 men. In February 1827 he came under the orders of Charles Fabvier, and took part in the campaign of Faliro. He developed a close relationship of mutual appreciation with Fabvier. Indeed, when Fabvier died, Touret delivered the funeral speech in Nafplion in September 1855.

After the bloody slaughter at the Three Towers of Attiki, Touret gathered what was left of the Regular Corps, and returned with the survivors to the camp of Taktikoupolis at Methana. On 11 August 1927 he was placed in charge of the 2nd company of cavalry. He took part in the campaign in Chios and was distinguished during the battle of Tourloti on 11 January 1828. In 24 January 1828, the army commander Fabvier praised him and his fellow cavalry men in writing for their very good conduct with extremely flattering words.

Touret then worked to reorganize the cavalry in Argos under the command of Carl Wilhelm Freiherr von Heideck, who replaced Fabvier when he left for France. Governor Kapodistrias recognized Touret’s services, and honored him with the rank of Cavalry captain further to a recommendation by the Commander of the Greek Regular Corps, General Trézel.

After the assassination of Kapodistrias, Touret moved with General Gerard and General Pellion in Methoni, and resided at the Headquarters of the French Expedition in Morea. From 1832 until 1845, Touret lived in Nafplio, where he was the soul of the city’s Catholic community.

In 1832 he undertook to reorganize the Hellenic Cavalry upon a relevant mandate by the Greek Government. Despite lack of means, he was able to assemble a body of 150 Cavalry men in January 1833, most of whom were pedestrians because of a lack of horses. A cavalry regiment of six companies was soon organized. On 5 April 1836, Touret assumed command of the Guard of Nafplion. Shortly afterwards, on 25 January 1841, he received the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Touret undertook early actions for the Greek government to honor the Philhellenes. Thus, with his intervention, for example, the city of Athens gave the name of Fabvier to a street in the capital. Moreover, Touret conceived the idea of ​​building a monument dedicated to the memory of the Philhellenes who died for Greece. This project was supported and honored in autobiographic letters, by most of the prominent leaders of Europe, as well as by the Greek Assembly. The monument, known as the “Touret Arch”, was made of wood at the expense of Touret in 1841, and adorns the inner side of the entrance to the Catholic Church of Nafplion. It has a facade with the shape of an ancient Greek temple and its columns bear the names of 276 Philhellenes and the place of their death, while on the pediment there is the shield and the crown of King Othon inside the cross of the Philhellenes fighters.

The Catholic Church of Metamorphosis tou Sotiros (The Transfiguration of the Saviour) in Nafplion and the Touret Arch memorial of Philhellenes at its entrance

In 1845, Touret settled permanently in Athens, where he assumed the duties of King Othon’s adjutant. During his stay there, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel, and served consecutively as the head of the King’s court, Director of the Military Hospital and Chief of the Army’s Administration. On 1 November 1854, he was appointed in charge of the Guard of Athens. Touret was tireless, working hard for the Guard, and to ensure peace and security in the city. That same year, he undertook the foundation and administration of a company of firefighters who offered valuable services to the city. Touret organized the first Fire Corps of Athens. He based the structure on French standards. Indeed, the brass helmet worn by Greek firefighters up-to-date comes from what was originally designed by Touret. A few years earlier, he contributed to the construction of the road leading to the Acropolis, which made him an honorary member of the Archaeological Society of Athens.

In 1830 he married in Argos a lady of Italian descent, Maria-Teresa Pelloni. His wedding was attended by General Gerard and his marriage witnesses, Colonels Pellion and Pauzié.

Colonel Touret was an officer of many abilities, something which was reflected by his handsome appearance and his uniform. Babis Anninos sketches him and refers to his personality, as perceived by Gustave Flaubert (who visited him during his stay in Greece) and Edmond About, who recognized his special character. Full of humility, committed to the homeland and its institutions, he enjoyed a general appreciation and devotion.

Touret was honored with the Cross of the Knight of the Legion of Honor from France, and with a Spanish medal. He then received the silver medal of Greek Independence, which was the highest honor for Greeks and Philhellenes, and a proof of their participation in war operations during the Greek Revolution. King Othon honored him with the Golden Cross of the Knights of the Order of the Redeemer on 20 March 1838 and the Golden Cross of the Commander of the same Order on 20 March 1857. On this day he departed from Greece for France, to receive treatment at a French hospital.

Touret remained loyal to Greece, telling French doctors, who advised him to extend his stay in France until his health was restored: “If I have to die, I want to leave my last breath in Greece.” In fact, his wish was realized on 16/28 August 1857, arriving by boat in the port of Piraeus. At the moment when the steamer that brought him back to Greece from France was anchored, Touret died next to his wife, facing Salamis and Faliro, where he had fought for his beloved second country. During his last stay in France, he had the honor of being accepted by the French royal couple as a confirmation of the recognition he also enjoyed in France.

SOURCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Εθνική Βιβλιοθήκη, Τμήμα Χειρογράφων και Ομοιοτύπων, χειρόγραφο697: Henri Fornèsy, «Le monument des philhellènes», 1860.
  • Εβδομάς, έτος Α΄ (1884), τ. Α΄, τεύχ. 1 (χ.ημ.) έως και τεύχ. 27 (2 Σεπτεμβρίου).
  • Άννινος Μπάμπης, Ιστορικά σημειώματα, εκδ. Εστία, Αθήνα 1925.
  • Ρούσσος-Μηλιδώνης Ν. Μάρκος, «Auguste Hilarion Touret, 1797-1858», Ναυπλιακά Ανάλεκτα, τ. 7 (Ναύπλιο 2009), σσ. 233-235.
  • Ρούσσος-Μηλιδώνης Ν. Μάρκος, «Το μνημείο των Φιλελλήνων στο Ναύπλιο», Σύγχρονα Βήματα, τ. 68 (1988/1991), σσ. 224-254.
  • Pellion Jean Pierre, La Grèce et les Capodistrias pendant l’occupation française de 1828 à 1834, εκδ. Librairie Militaire, Παρίσι 1855.
  • Εφημερίδα Αιών, Αθήνα, 5 Σεπτεμβρίου 1857.
  • Εφημερίδα Αθηνά, Αθήνα, 9 Ιουλίου 1841.
  • Άννινος Μπάμπης, «Ο Συνταγματάρχης Τουρέ», Ημερολόγιο της Μεγάλης Ελλάδος, έτος 1923, Αθήνα, Ι. Ν. Σιδέρης, σελ. 296-304.

Studying the history of Greeks and Philhellenes who played a role during the Greek Revolution, it is difficult to identify among the great fighters, Greeks and Philhellenes, a heroic figure who loved Greece, identified with her cause and was present for so long and in so many fronts and battlefields, as George Jarvis.

George Jarvis (1797-1828), was born in Altona, Denmark. Today Altona is a suburb of Hamburg, Germany. But from 1640 to 1864, it was part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Jarvis’s father was Benjamin Jarvis, an American merchant from New York who was assigned Consul of the USA in Altona, Denmark. His mother was Maria Carolina Dede from Germany.

Jarvis had received a classical education, was a fan of Greek culture, and when the Greek Revolution broke out, he became an enthusiastic follower. He was influenced by the German Philhellenic movement, and had a keen interest as a student at the University where he was studying at Heidelberg. In 1821, he was already an educated young man who spoke English, French and German.

In November 1821 he decided to go to Greece. After a long and difficult voyage, he passed through Frankfurt, Zurich, Strasbourg, Lyon and finally, arrived in Marseilles, shortly after the departure of the ship carrying the German General Charles Norman and his battalion of Philhellenes to Greece. Shortly afterwards, he found another ship (the Swedish “Trondjem”) destined for Greece, arriving at Hydra on 3 April 1822. It is noteworthy that the same ship was transporting to Greece, another of the brave and emblematic Philhellenes, the Officer of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, Frank Abney Hastings. Jarvis was the first American philhellene to come to Greece since the beginning of the Greek Revolution.

When he arrived in Greece, he went to the government at Corinth, and enlisted in the Greek Navy, under Giacoumakis Tombazis and Antonis Rafael, captain of the Corvette “Themistocles”. He also developed a close friendship with Demetrios Voulgaris from Hydra (later Prime Minister of Greece) and the Greek merchant and member of the “Filiki Etairia”, Emmanuel Xenos. Xenos had bought a house in Nafplion, and had turned it into a meeting point for Greeks and Philhellenes. Jarvis’s first mission was to organize the combat capacity of ships. One of the first expeditions in which he participated with “Themistocles”, was to go to Chios at the time of the massacre and destruction of the island by the Turks, in order to seek and rescue fugitives from the island.

Jarvis writes in his diary: “On 9 May 1822, we went ashore again. A horrible appearance, the crops in excellent condition, the well-cultivated land, the horses, the goats and the sheep grazing, but no living soul. Four times we found a bunch of dead men and women. How seedy the coast, the gorges and the valleys were and how beautiful the view was! But here a corpse that was thrown over the rocks tied handcuffed and terribly mutilated, there another headless, almost still warm, over a dozen corpses that began to rot, and on the other side an even greater number of naked corpses, who had just lost their breath. A coats full of heads! ”

He participated with the Greek Navy in 13 naval battles and war operations.

Indeed, as he states in his diary, “as a Greek Navy officer, I spent two years with them in various operations in Chios, Mytilene, the coasts of Asia Minor, Syria, Crete, Cyprus, the Archipelago and the Peloponnese. Thirteen different campaigns with them, in which we burned several ships of the line, as well as smaller ones, confiscated others. We conquered and defended fortresses and gave every possible help to Christian refugees. The younger Greeks in many ways resemble their ancestors. The same people who fight like seafarers, when they come back are enrolled as soldiers on land. So I was present at the siege of Athens, Nafplio, the defense of Messolonghi and the battle with Hursit-Pasha in Morea.”

It is worth noting that the diary and letters of George Jarvis constitute an important historical source. Jarvis was a noble and honest man and his diary and letters contain facts and real information. While reading his diary, we note on a particular occasions, that he did not mention at all the fact that he was once severely wounded. From the first moment in Greece, Jarvis followed the Greek customs. He was wearing traditional Greek clothes, a foustanela and learned the modern Greek language quickly. Actually, he tutored other Philhellenes to learn Greek as well.

During his presence in Greece, he took action at sea and on land, and he was present in almost all the great battles and historical moments of the Greek War of Independence. Some of these cases are indicative.

In the summer of 1822 he participated in many conflicts between Greeks and Turks in the Argos region. In September 1822 he served in the Navy as a seaman with Hydra’s fleet and combats the Turkish fleet in the area of ​​Spetses. In December 1822, he went to Messolonghi and engaged in battles. In 1824 he returned to Messolonghi and served as an adjutant general to Lord Byron, where he took charge of the training of the Corps of Souliotes. After Byron’s death, Gamba entrusted Jarvis with the management of the artillery and of Byron’s assets and liabilities. Jarvis fulfilled these tasks with great responsibility. He paid the salaries of Byron’s soldiers, and distributed his assets with responsibility to the right recipients.

Personal objects of Lord Byron, which passed to George Jarvis and then to Samuel Howe, SHP Collection

We note here that Jarvis had adhered unconditionally to the correct position that all Greeks had to support the legitimate government, and that discipline and respect to the administration’s policies was essential for the success of the struggle. Jarvis avoided taking position in the frictions and grievances among the Greeks, which disappointed him, and remained loyal to the legitimate governor, who was Mavrokordatos, and to his choices. Even when he clashed with Odysseus Androutsos. It is important to note that Jarvis has never received for himself a salary or remuneration from the Greek government. He was disinterested and dedicated to Greece and to the Greeks in an exemplary manner, as few during the Greek Revolution. He was coaching and encouraging the soldiers and was always first in the battles, in which he was injured several times.

In Messolonghi, Jarvis, together with the engineer Kokkinis, participated in the fortification works of the city (and of Aetolikos) and took part in its second siege. In the autumn of 1824, during the campaign in Epirus, he remained fortified with 50 men on the front line at Kravasaras – Makrinoros, with the Greek army officer Karagiannis. On 26 October 1824, Jarvis signed with another 8 Greek chiefs a letter in which they promised not to abandon their post. This statement was published in the newspaper Hellenic Chronicles published by another great Philhellene, the Swiss Mayer, in Messolonghi.

Jarvis also offered later his services to Theodore Kolokotronis as a political adviser.

An incident that took place during a battle in Tripoli, demonstrates Jarvis’ bravery. After a raid, of the Turks, Jarvis was injured in the thigh. Unable to run, he was abandoned by other fighters and surrounded by the Turkish cavalry, who attempted to kill him with fury. However, refusing to give in, he turned around and pointed his rifle at anyone who approached him, threatening to shoot him. His bravery and heroism encouraged his comrades, who soon after, returned and rescued him.

Jarvis had now received the rank of Lieutenant General, and had formed a team of 45 fighters (all names are known), who were trained and paid at his own expense. With this Corps, he was always at the front line and took on the most difficult missions. He did the same when Ibrahim Pascha invaded the Peloponnese. At the battle of Neokastro, when the Greek forces retreated, Jarvis and his fighters were captured after a fierce battle. Ibrahim personally dealt with Jarvis, and tried to persuade him (talking to him for an hour in French) to move to his camp, offering him a large sum of money and a double salary to his fighters. They all refused and Jarvis was tortured and all his personal belongings were removed. A few days later 1000 Greeks, including Jarvis and his Corps, were released in a prisoner exchange agreement between the two camps. Jarvis arrived ill, injured and in a miserable state at the residence of his compatriot, Philhellene military doctor, Samuel Howe, who treated and cured him. Jarvis had suffered many injuries from his participation in the Greek struggle. But he had incredible physical strength and overcame injuries, deprivations and hardships. After this adventure, he was soon ready to take again action for Greece.

In the battle of Faliro, he fought with G. Karaiskakis and Nikitaras. On 25 October 1826, Karaiskakis began his expedition to Attica, accompanied by some of his friends, including George Jarvis and the German doctor Heinrich Treiber. Jarvis fought alongside Karaiskakis in Attica and Arachova and he was with him until his death, along with Treiber, who treated as a doctor Karaiskakis’ wounds.

Nikolaos Kassomoulis, refers to the Military Memories of the Greek Revolution (1821-1833) – Volume II, to Jarvis with the following comments: “Georgios Zervas (Jarvis), American, attached to Karaiskakis, honest young man, with education, excited to be with this Corps. He died in Argos. Indifferent in to our rivalries. He enjoyed everybody’s love.”

To the Greeks who accepted him affectionately, he was known as “Captain Georgis the American” or “Zervis” or “Zervas”.

From 1827 onwards, Jarvis undertook, in collaboration with another brave American Philhellene, Jonathan Peckam Miller, to organize the distribution of food, clothing, and medication aid sent by the Philhellenic Committees of the USA to the newly established Greek state.

Jarvis died in Argos on 11 August 1828, at the age of 31, and was buried in the courtyard of St. John.

St John’s church in Argos

The cause of his death is unclear. Other sources cite tetanus as a cause, others typhus. This is the most likely version, according to a letter of the Provincial Council of Argos dated 18 December 1828 to the Extraordinary Commissioner of Argolida, which states, “[…] his illness, that is, as a result of information received by doctors, typhus”.  The state’s General Gazette wrote that he died of illness and that he was buried with the honors of a General.

What matters, is that a great and noble hero offered his life to Greece and to the struggle for its independence. Two years after Jarvis’s death, his relatives asked to dispose of the property he had left in Greece. They set themselves as a precondition the settlement of any possible financial debt that Jarvis could have left. Thus, they published a notice to the press, inviting anyone who had a claim to present any evidence he had to the “appointed arbitrator on the account of missing person”.

This attitude of unique decency, honesty and morality, shows the quality of the family environment that had shaped the character of this great man, the hero who sacrificed his fortune, his career, and his life in the struggle for the Independence of Greece.

 

“Remember me! My friends,

Who here from freedom’s cause remains,

In Grecian seas, in Grecian plains,

To break the most inglorious chains,

And seeks humanity.”

George Jarvis

 

Bibliography – Sources

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