Battle of the Trench (1821)
The Battle of the Trench (Greek: μάχη της Γράνας) was fought near Tripolitsa in Arcadia in August 1821 during the first year of the Greek War of Independence between the Greek revolutionary forces led by Theodoros Kolokotronis and the Ottoman garrison of Tripolitsa. The battle ended with the complete victory of the Greeks.
|Battle of the Trench|
|Part of the Greek War of Independence|
|Greek revolutionaries||Ottoman Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
Theodoros Kolokotronis |
Ali Bey (WIA) |
Kabır Kehaya †
Abdul Bölükbaşı †
|Casualties and losses|
|30 killed, numerous wounded||400 killed, numerous wounded|
In August 1821, Greeks began the siege of Tripolitsa. The Ottomans who were besieged in the city attempted several night sallies in order to find supplies. When Theodoros Kolokotronis was called by the besiegers to take over command of the siege, he therefore ordered the digging of a trench (grana) with a depth of one meter and a width of two meters running from Mytikas in the village of Benteni up to the hill near the village of Loukas where the chieftain Ioannis Dagres held the position. This whole project, which covered a distance of about 700 meters, was completed with personal work of the peasants of the region within three days and aimed at the interception of the Ottoman sorties.
During the night of 9 to 10 August, an Ottoman force of 3000 infantry and cavalrymen sallied from Tripolitsa to Loukas hill in order to attack the force of Ioannis Dagres and also for their usual raid for supplies. After looting several villages in the wider area, they attacked Dagres' force at dawn, bringing the Greeks in a difficult position. Kolokotronis, realising the seriousness of the situation, ordered Plapoutas, Dimitrios Deligiannis, Papazafiropoulos, Christopoulos, George Aulakos and the armed Greeks of Tripolitsa to occupy positions within the trench, while he placed other forces behind the fences of the vineyards, as well as ordering any other troops to come to assistance. Moreover, in order to lessen the pressure on the trench, he ordered a diversionary attack by the forces of Demetrios Ypsilantis, Anagnostaras and Panagiotis Giatrakos.
While the forces of Ali Bey had brought Dagres and his men in a difficult position, they realised the imminent danger and retreated in order to avoid being cut off. Reaching the trench, however, they found themselves confronted by the Greeks holding it, and the men of Dagres pursuing them in their rear.
The Ottoman situation temporarily improved when the garrison cavalry came to their aid, but both the Ottoman foot troops and the cavalry suffered heavy losses as they tried to cross the trench. At the same time, new Ottoman forces left Tripolitsa in order to reinforce their comrades, leading to a general engagement on two fronts. Kolokotronis, followed by his bodyguard, moved between fronts encouraging his men. Eventually, the Ottomans caved in and retreated in disorder towards Tripolitsa.
During the battle, the Ottomans lost about 400 men. Most of them were killed during the failed attempt crossing the trench. Among the dead were several prominent Ottomans of Tripolitsa such as Abdul Bölükbaşı (son of the local lord Sheikh Tahir Efendi) and Kabır Kehaya, while Ali Bey died three days of his wounds. At the same time, all the carts with animals and food that were collected from looting that day were abandoned on the battlefield.
On the Greek side, thirty men were killed, including the brother of Ioannis Dagres, Thanasis. There were several wounded, among whom were the minor leaders Apostolis Kolokotronis and Georgios Dritsas, who died a few days later.
The successful outcome of this battle for the Greek forces, contributed greatly to the acceleration of the subsequent capture of Tripolitsa by the Greek revolutionaries. The Ottomans suffered considerable losses, there was sharp decline in their morale, while they lost the ability to forage for supplies as before.
- Note: Greece officially adopted the Gregorian calendar on 16 February 1923 (which became 1 March). All dates prior to that, unless specifically denoted, are Old Style.
- Νεώτερον Εγκυκλοπαιδικόν Λεξικόν Ηλίου, vol. 5, p. 632.
- Dionysios A. Kokkinos, Η Ελληνική Επανάστασις, εκδόσεις Μέλισσα, Athens 1975, vol. 2, pp. 84–85.
- Dionysios A. Kokkinos, 1975, vol. 2, pp. 85–87.
- Dionysios A. Kokkinos, 1975, vol. 2, pp. 87–88.