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ALI TURNS THE SIEGE OF SULI INTO A BLOCKADE.
encies of the Seven Islands—Ruins Prevesa--Receives Artillery-men and Stores from his French Allies--Colonel Vaudoncourt is sent to Ali -His Opinion of the Vizir-Fortifies Prevesa—Joint Insurrection of Tzamouria, Delvino, and Berat against Ali— Reduced by him-- Admiral Duckworth’s Expedition against Constantinople.
AGREEABLY to the determination of Ali, alluded to in the
preceding chapter, he divided his army into five columns, with which he occupied the entrances of the principal defiles leading into the recesses of the Suliot mountains, throwing up, in the course of one night, sixty-four small towers, which were soon afterwards replaced by a smaller number of redoubts or forts, capable of containing from 200 to 400 men. The leaders of the republic were of course necessitated to adopt similar measures of defence; they therefore divided their army into five separate battalions to oppose the enemy, and attached to each a troop of female warriors, who provided them with food, relieved them frequently from the duty of sentinels, and on occasions of attack supplied them with ammunition, or even mingled in the contest. As soon as the forts were constructed, a general assault was made by the vizir’s troops, who again suffered a total defeat, and were saved from destruction only by the protection of their new fortifications. Nothing but the oath taken by the beys, previous to the commencement of this war, could have kept them firm in their allegiance. In the mean time a fresh firman was obtained from the Porte, and amongst other beys and pashas who were required to furnish contingents, even Ibrahim Pasha of Berat was obliged to dispatch 2000 men to the assistance of his bitterest enemy and rival : so completely was the Divan deluded by the craft and cunning of this extraordinary man !
To these soldiers of Berat, who are very warlike in their nature, a separate station was assigned at their own request, to give them an opportunity of distinguishing their superior prowess. This station lay oppo
STRATAGEM OF THE SULIOTS.
site to one of the advanced guards of the republic, which occupied a hill called Curilla. Of this hill the Beratians determined to dispossess the Suliots, and prepared themselves for a fierce attack : timely intelligence of these motions being sent to Foto Tzavella, he hastened with a select corps to the relief of his friends, when, after three hours hard fighting, he succeeded in driving the assailants down the heights. In the eagerness of pursuit this young Achilles far outstripped his companions, which being observed by one of the fugitives who was in danger of being overtaken and cut down, he slunk unperceived behind a rock, fired off his musket with deliberate aim, and Foto fell: the man then ran after his companions, who, elated by this event, rallied, and turned their faces again to the enemy, when a fierce conflict ensued over the body of the fallen chief, like that which the poet has described over the corpse of Patroclus: not a musket was now fired, but each party fought desperately with their sharp Albanian sabres. Foto being only wounded, and not dead, earnestly entreated his companions to sever his head from his body, to prevent the possibility of his being carried alive to the pasha; but his gallant comrades replied, that they would carry him back in triumph to his friends; and in this, after the most prodigious efforts, they finally succeeded. Immediately on the fall of Tzavella, a soldier ran off to convey the welcome tidings of his death to the pasha, who rewarded him with a hundred sequins upon the spot, and promised him four hundred more if his news should
Soon after this occurrence, and whilst Foto's wound was cured, an ingenious stratagem was played off upon a large body of the new levies, by a Suliot whose name is not recorded. Hearing that they were on their march to join the main army, he concerted measures with his countrymen, and then throwing himself as if by accident into their way, suffered himself to be made prisoner: presently, as they advanced on their route, a sharp firing was heard on a mountain at a little distance, and the Suliot being questioned as to the cause, an
swered, that a party of the vizir’s troops were engaged with those of the republic, and advised them strongly, if they wished to shew their zeal, and gain great honour and rewards from their commander, to run instantly to the assistance of their allies. The infatuated Albanians take his advice, and ascend the hill; in the hurry of this manæuvre their insidious adviser steals away; they soon find themselves placed between two fires, lose half their men in killed and wounded, and almost all the rest in prisoners.
This affair terminated for a short time all active contests between the parties. Ali, despairing to subdue such valiant and determined enemies in open warfare, turned the siege into a blockade, during the delay of which he hoped that famine and treachery might effect what he was unable to do by force of arms. The Suliots however, acquainted with various mountain passes unknown to him, found means to procure food, and in the dark nights they sallied out in parties of fifty or sixty, falling upon the surrounding villages, from whence they carried off corn and cattle, even pillaging the very camps of their enemies, who dared not leave their entrenchments in the darkness for fear of ambuscade. The vizir at length, tired of so protracted a contest, proposed a truce, and demanded twenty-four hostages as a security against the violation of his territory. Strong necessity urged the Suliots to accept his terms, and the hostages were delivered up. Then the deceitful Ali threw off the mask, imprisoned these unfortunates, and threatened them with death by torture, unless the republic should surrender unconditionally. To his perfidious proposals the following answer was returned.
« Βεζιρ Αλή Πασά σε χαιρετώμεν. . « Με τις απίσος τρόπος οπό φέρεσαι, δεν κάμνης άλλο, παρά να ολιγόσεύης την υπόληψίν σε, και να αυξάνης την εδικήν μας σκληροκαρδίαν εναντίον σα: "Iξευρε ότι όπε έχομεν δεκαεπτά θυσίας της πατρίδος, , ας γίναν με αυτές σαρανταένας δια περισσοτέραν ενθύμησιν ότι η πατρίς διά αυτάς τας θυσίας δεν πα. ραδίδοται· όθεν εις το εξής αγάπης πλέον δεν έχομεν, ότε την θέλομεν μαζύσε επειδή εισαι άπισος κατά πάντα καθώς και παντότε.”
“ Vizir Ali Pasha, we greet you.
By such treacherous conduct you do nothing else but sully your own reputation and increase our determined resistance against you. Know this, that we have already lost seventeen victims sacrificed in their country's cause; let these other twenty-four then be added to the number: their memory will live in the breasts of their fellow-citizens. But the republic will not on their account surrender itself. Henceforward we neither desire, nor will we entertain any friendship with you; since in all transactions, and on every occasion, you are a violator of good faith.”
This infamous behaviour of Ali so exasperated the Suliots that they prohibited all correspondence with him and threw his letters unopened into the fire. The hostages in the mean time were sent to loannina, where, as it was a custom with the Suliots never to deliver
their arms, and no one was found daring enough to demand them, a stratagem was devised for this purpose. Being all sent to the island in the lake, the hegumenos or prior of a convent there invited them to attend divine service on occasion of a solemn festival : his proposal was unwarily accepted by the Suliots who, according to custom, deposited their weapons in the church-porch under the pledged faith of the hegumenos : one man, however, named Fotomara, retained his arms, and in reply to the remonstrances of the monk observed, “ Whilst my country is at war, caloyer, I lay not down my arms, nor do I commit impiety, in my opinion, by entering armed into the temple of God under such circumstances.”
At their egress out of church they found their arms conveyed away and a party of Albanian soldiers ready to seize and bind them: the
PROPOSAL OF ALI TO PURCHASE SULI.
commander then approached Fotomara, and desired him to surrender bis weapons. The gallant youth made a motion as if he would have shot the person who made this request, but in a moment the probable fate of his companions flashed across his mind : he restrained himself, and thus calmly replied : “ The worthless coward lays down his arms to preserve an ignoble life, the palikar in death alone: see then how a Suliot lays down his arms.” At these words he turned the pistol to his own breast and fell shot through the heart. His companions were all kept in close confineinent, distributed amongst the different convents of the island.
In the mean time Ibrahim Pasha, disgusted not more at the want of success than of good faith which marked Ali's conduct, withdrew from the confederacy and secretly supplied the Suliots with stores and ammunition : but the conduct of Pronio Agà of Paramithia, who endeavoured secretly to befriend the republic, being disclosed to the vizir, he demanded and obtained the son of that chieftain as an hostage for his future behaviour. During a cessation of hostilities he dispatched his selictar agà, accompanied by Kitzio Botzari, a brother of the late traitor, to Suli, with proposals for the surrender of their mountain citadels for the sum of 2000 purses, with permission to settle in any part of his dominions free from all taxes and contributions. The Suliots, being so often forewarned, easily penetrated into his intentions and returned the following spirited reply:
Βεζιρ Αλή Πασά σε χαιρετάμεν" « Η Πατρίς μας ειναι απείρως γλυκυτέρα και από τα άσπρα σε, και από τις ευτυχέις τόπος, οπά υπόσχεσαι να μας δώσης· όθεν ματαιως κοπιάζεις, επειδή η ελευθερία μας δεν πωλειται, ότε αγοράζεται σχεδόν με όλες τις θησαυρός της γης, παρά με το αιμα και θάνατον έως τον ύσερον Συλιώτην.”
“ Vizir Ali Pasha, we greet you. “ Our country is infinitely more dear to us than your wealth, or