Battle of Alamana

The battle of Alamana was one of the armed conflicts during the Greek War of Independence of 1821 that ended with an Ottoman win and a defeat for the Greeks. It was in this battle, which took place on April 23, 1821, that Athanasios Diakos was wounded and died in a heroic manner, impaled on Omer Vrioni’s command.

After the Greeks revolted, Omer Vrioni and Köse Mehmed, commanders of the Ottoman army, were sent from Ioannina by Hurşid Ahmed pasha to suppress the revolution that had started in Peloponnese, with an army of 9000 men. Athanasios Diakos, Panourgias, and Yiannis Dyovouniotis, with an army of about 1500 armatoles, agreed to occupy the road leading to Locris and Boeotia and the one leading to Phocis. They thus split their army: Dyovouniotis and 400 soldiers occupied the bridge of Gorgopotamos, and Panourgias with 500 men set for the village Mustafa Bey (now called Heraklia) and Chalcomata. Diakos and his men undertook to defend Alamana’s bridge and Pouria, where the road to Thermopylae passed. 

Facing the overwhelming force of the enemy’s infantry and cavalry, the corps of Dyovouniotis buckled, whereas Panourgias’ corps, despite putting up resistance, was eventually overwhelmed and forced to retreat, following the serious injury of Panourgias himself. In Alamana, however, resistance against Köse Mehmed’s army was still strong. On Alamana bridge, Diakos, along with Kalyvas and Bakoyiannis, fought heroically, but the odds were against them. Diakos’ few remaining men, upon realising that further resistance was futile, tried to convince him to retreat. Diakos continued fighting undaunted, until he was eventually wounded and captured. 

Two hundred Greeks fell in the battle that day and the road to Boeotia was now open for the Ottomans.  

Athanasios Diakos was wounded in the shoulder and his scimitar had broken during the battle. He was transported to Lamia, where he impressed the pashas with his courage. Such was Omer Vrioni’s awe of the hero that he expressed a desire to recruit Diakos and make him an Ottoman army officer. Diakos refused, answering “I shall never serve you, pasha, and if I do, I shall never avail you”. Vrioni then offered to spare Diakos’ life, on condition that he converted to Islam. Diakos replied: 

“Go (to hell), murtads, [1]and your faith. I was born a Greek and I shall die a Greek”.  

Then Vrioni threatened him that he was going to be executed, but Diakos answered courageously:

“Hellas has many men like me”. 

It is said that the Ottoman commander had great respect for Diakos, as, back in the day, they both served under the command of Ali Pasha of Ioannina. Because of that, he was trying to find a way to save him from execution. However, a Turkish principal man, named Halil Bey, who was present in a discussion between Omer Vrioni and Köse Mehmed (hierarchically superior to Vrioni), convinced the latter that Diakos had to be put to death, since he had killed many local Ottoman notables, as he claimed. Diakos’ execution by impalement was thus definitely decided. Folklore has it that upon hearing his sentence, Diakos said: 

“Look at the time Charon chose to take me, now that the branches are flowering and the earth sends forth grass”.

Even though the Greeks were unable to defeat the Ottomans in the battle of Alamana, where one of the first legends of the Greek Revolution was born, their defiance and resistance, as well as the martyrdom of Athanasios Diakos, filled the Greeks with courage and gave them strength to keep fighting. 

[1] A murtad is an apostate from Islam.