Greco-Turkish War 1897

Georgios Roilos (1867-1928), Battle of Pharsala (c. 1900). 38 cm x 55 cm National Gallery of Athens

The Greco-Turkish War of 1897, also called the Thirty Days' War, was a war between Greece and the Ottoman Empire, under its ruler Sultan Hamid. Its immediate cause was Greek concern over the situation in Crete, where the Greek population was still under Ottoman control.

In late 1896 a rebellion broke out on Crete, and on January 21, 1897 a Greek army landed in Crete to liberate the island from Ottoman control and unite it with Greece. The European powers, however, intervened, and proclaimed Crete an international protectorate.

The Greek army retreated to the mainland, where it next attempted to advance northwards into Thessaly and Epirus. In Thessaly the Turks had concentrated six divisions of about 60,000 men under Edhem Pasha, with a seventh division joining a little later. The Greeks numbered just under 46,000, led by Crown Prince Constantine. The Greeks controlled the sea, outnumbering and outgunning the Turkish navy.

Battle at Mati

In early April Greek troops crossed the border, trying to start an uprising in Macedonia. The armies met at Mati. The Greeks were outnumbered, and retreated past Larissa, which was evacuated. Near Pharsala the Greeks re-established order, and a counter-attack was planned. However, Greek morale failed, and they were only saved because the Ottoman Sultan ordered a cease-fire on May 20.

In Epirus, the Greeks numbered 15,000, against 30,000 Turks under Achmet Hifsi Pasha. On April 18 the Turks began bombarding Arta, but they could not take the city. Retreating to Philiappiada, the Turks entrenched themselves. Greek forces counter-attacked but were worsted when reinforcements failed. The Greeks finally retreated on May 15 with heavy losses.

Peace was signed on September 20, arranged by European powers. Turkey received a large amount of money as indemnification, and gained a small amount of land on the Thessaly border.

This was the only occasion during the century of conflict between Greece and the Turks that Greece was forced to cede land to the Turks. Some credit for the success of the Ottoman army in this war is given to the reforms put in place by the German Pasha Baron von der Goltz.

Links

Battle of Velestino

Konstantinos Smolenski (or Smolenskis) (Κωνσταντίνος Σμολένσκη)

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