Greco-Turkish War (1897)

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The Greco-Turkish War of 1897, also called the Thirty Days' War, was a war between Greece and the Ottoman Empire, under its ruler Sultan Hamid. Its immediate cause was Greek concern over the situation in Crete, where the Greek population was still under Ottoman control.

In late 1896 a rebellion broke out on Crete, and on January 21, 1897 a Greek army landed in Crete to help the rebels. The European powers, however, intervened landing troops on the island and proclaiming Crete an international protectorate while putting down the rebellion.

The Greek army was forced to retreat to the mainland, abandoning their fellow Greeks in Crete, to their fate. Public outcry forced the Theodoros Deligiannis government in Greece to declare war on Turkey on April 5, 1897. The Greek army attempted to advance northwards into Thessaly and Epirus. In Thessaly the Turks had concentrated six divisions of about 60,000 men under Ethem Pasha, with a seventh division joining a little later. The Greeks numbered just under 46,000, led by Crown Prince Constantine. The Greeks controlled the sea, outnumbering and outgunning the Turkish navy.

In early April Greek troops crossed the border, trying to start an uprising in Macedonia. The armies met at Mati. The Greeks were outnumbered, and retreated past Larisa, which was evacuated. Near Pharsala the Greeks re-established order, and a counter-attack was planned. However, Greek morale failed, and they were only saved because the Ottoman Sultan ordered a cease-fire on May 20.

In Epirus, the Greeks numbered 15,000, against 30,000 Turks under Ahmet Hifsi Pasha. On April 18 the Turks began bombarding Arta, but they could not take the city. Retreating to Philippiada, the Turks entrenched themselves. Greek forces counter-attacked but were worsted when reinforcements failed. The Greeks finally retreated on May 15 with heavy losses.

Peace was signed on September 20, arranged by European powers. Turkey received a large amount of money as indemnification, and gained a small amount of land on the Thessaly border.

This was the only occasion during the century of conflict between Greece and the Turks that Greece was forced to cede land to the Turks. Some credit for the success of the Ottoman army in this war is given to the reforms put in place by the German Pasha Baron von der Goltz.



  • Dead: 32 officers and 640 soldiers
  • Wounded: 98 officers and 2,383 soldiers


  • Dead: 52 officers and 1,059 soldiers
  • Wounded: 91 officers and 3,238 soldiers

Further reading

External link

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