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Battle of Navarino and the Siege of Messolonghi
20th October 1827

clcik to see larger battle of navarinoThe naval Battle of Navarino fought in the eponymous bay (on the western coast of the northern Greek mainland, on the Ionian Sea) was fought on 20 October 1827, during the Greek War of Independence 1821-1829.

A combined Ottoman and Egyptian armada was destroyed by a combined British, French and Russian naval force, that latter force better armed, and with better-trained crews, than their opponents.

This battle was the last large-scale fleet action between sailing ships in history.Preceding this decisive rout of the Ottoman forces in Greece, the Greeks had had some victories in the early years of the revolution, but the Ottoman Egyptian army had retaken Crete and part of the Morea (Peloponnese) by mid-1925.

rumeliThe Egyptian commander, Ibrahim Pasha, in the service of Ottoman sultan Mahmud II, had a western trained army of 17,000 men, and, though stopped at first by Greek fireships, took the Morea due to a mutiny of Greek sailors for lack of pay, and remained there until intervention of the western powers in October of 1828 forced his capitulation.

Before this, despite great cost to his own troops and to the Ottoman forces, be besieged Messolonghi, and in revenge for the harassment of his army by Greek guerillas, devastated the country, burning crops and sending thousands of people into slavery in Egypt. The Ottoman fleet then returned to support the land army, basing itself in the Bay of Navarino and at Messolonghi.

The intervention of Britain, France and Russia was motivated both by the desire to help the Greeks and also to protect their ships against raids by Greek pirates. In the secret Treaty of London (July, 1827), these powers agreed to use force if necessary against the Ottomans if autonomy for Greece were to be rejected.

They had warned the Ottoman Egyptian fleet to stay out of the area near Navarino Bay; when their warning was flaunted, they established a blockade.The Ottomans then tried to leave but were repelled by the British commander, Codrington and by bad weather.

The Allies attempted to arrange an armistice, but the Ottomans refused. The battle began when a British boat was fired on, and the officer and several crew members killed. The boat had been approaching an Ottoman ship to request removal of a fireboat that seemed to be alight.

The British frigate that had sent the boat fired on the Ottoman ship, and soon a battle raged. In a few hours ¾ of the Ottoman Egyptian fleet was sunk or set on fire by their own crews.

This battle crippled the Ottomans and Egyptians at sea and soon most of their land army left as well, freeing the Morea of the Ottomans, and basically sealing Greek independence.