European Officers and the Mainland Irregular Forces on the Ionian Islands, 1798–1814: A Comparison of Command and Tactics
Athens Journal of Mediterranean Studies. Volume 7, Issue 2, April 2021. Pages 119 - 142
In the era of the Napoleonic wars, the Ionian Islands off the western coasts of Greece and southern Albania became a base of operations and an area of conflict in the Mediterranean in the years 1797–1814. In that period, Republican French, Russian, Imperial French, and British forces successively occupied these Greek-populated islands, formerly Venetian possessions. Each of these powers attempted to establish a nominally independent "Septinsular Republic" under their protectorate. There were efforts by all of these powers to organize native armed forces, some raised from among refugees from the mainland-bandits (klephtes), former Ottoman irregulars (armatoloi), and clansmen from the autonomous regions of Himara, Souli, and Mani. Although these refugee warriors were skilled in the use of weapons-flintlock firearms, sabres and yataghans- they fought and were organized according to traditions and methods that were different and considered "obsolete" in early nineteenth century Europe. This study will look into the organization, training and command of these troops by Russian, French, and British officers. It will study the successes and failures of these officers in forming these native warriors into regular or semi-regular forces. It will also examine how the attitudes and activities of these officers helped to develop the armed forces of the Greek War of Independence, 1821–1830.