Mahmud Pasha, called Dramalı (Greek: Μαχμούτ πασάς Δράμαλης, Drama ca. 1780 - Corinth, 26 October 1822) was an Ottoman General during the Greek War of Independence, who led a disastrous campaign against the Greek rebels in July 1822.
Early life and career
He was born in Drama, from where he got his nickname. Raised in Constantinople, he participated in various campaigns throughout the Empire, acquiring significant military skills, until being finally posted in his home province of Drama as pasha. In 1820 he was pasha of Larisa, and participated in the army, under Hursid Pasha, operating against the rebel Ali Pasha Tepelenli of Yannina.
In early 1821, he crushed the first rebellions by Greeks in the Agrafa region, and after the disgrace and suicide of Hursid, took over as Mora Valesi, with the task of destroying the Greek revolt in its heart, the Morea. He assembled a well-equipped army of 24000 infantry and 6000 cavalry, a huge force by Balkan standards, and set off from Larissa in late June 1822.
The Morea Campaign
Main article: Battle at Dervenakia
He marched unopposed through Boeotia, where he razed Thebes, and Attica, where he did not attempt to retake the Acropolis, which had just surrendered to the Greeks. He passed through the defiles of the the Megaris unmolseted, and entered the Peloponnese. He arrived at Corinth in mid-July, and found the strong fort of Acrocorinth abandoned without a fight by its Greek garrison. He wed the widow of the fort's murdered former commander, Kiamil Bey, and was joined by Yussuf Pasha of Patras, who advised him to remain in Corinth, using it as a base, and to build up strong naval forces in the gulf and isolate the Morea, before advancing on Tripoli. But Dramali, by now utterly self-confident by the Greeks' apparent reluctance to oppose him, decided to march at once to the south, towards the Argolis.
His advance caused a panic among the Greeks, with the provisional government fleeing Argos. But on arriving at Argos, Dramali made two critical mistakes: he did not secure his main supply and retreat route through the Dervenaki Pass, and ignored the fact that the absence of the Ottoman Navy meant that he could not be supplied by sea. Instead, he focused on taking the town's fort, stubbornly defended by a 700-strong Greek garrison under Demetrios Ypsilantis, which held out for twelve vital days, before breaking through the siege and escaping. During that time, the Greeks, under Theodoros Kolokotronis, rallied their forces, and occupied the surrounding hills and defiles, including the Dervenaki. The Greeks systematically looted the villages of the Argolic plain, even setting fire to the crops and damaging the springs, so as to starve the Turkish army.
Trapped in the sweltering heat of Argos, without water and food, Dramali was forced to withdraw back to Corinth. On 26 July he sent out his cavalry, as an advance guard, towards the Derveneki pass. But the Greeks were expecting the move, and had taken up positions there. The resulting battle was a complete Greek victory, with few Ottomans managing to escape. Finally, two days later, Dramali set out with his main army. Although he and his bodyguard managed to pass, the majority of his army, as well as the treasury and most baggage and equipment, were left behind. The result of Dramali's campaign, which had started so well, was a complete disaster: out of more than 30000 soldiers, only 6000 returned to Corinth, where Dramali died on October 26.
For more details on this topic, see Ottoman military reform efforts.
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