30 September 1827 – the Battle of Itea
Battle in the bay of Salona, (1890 – 1900), by Ioannis Poulakas. Oil painting showing the Karteria (centre-right, with sails down and smoke issuing from funnel) in action at the Battle of Itea (1827). Note that the Karteria is advancing under steam against the wind, in contrast with the two flanking Greek warships
years ago: the Battle of Itea
The Battle of Itea (Greek: Ναυμαχία της Ιτέας) was a naval battle opposing the Greek revolutionary fleet and the Ottoman – Egyptian fleet, fought on 29/30 September 1827 in the Gulf of Corinth, during the Greek War of Independence. The Ottoman fleet, consisted of three schooners, three brigs, three transports and a gunboat, protected by shore batteries. Under the command of British Philhellene, Frank Abney Hastings, a small Greek squadron consisting of a brig and two small gunboats led by the flagship «Karteria», a steam-powered warship, launched a raid on an Ottoman fleet anchored at «Angali» on the west side of the gulf of Itea.
As the Greek fleet approached within 500 yards of the Ottoman ships Hastings ordered to drop anchor. After an initial ranging shot by the «Karteria», the Ottoman ships would open fire focusing their shots on the steamship. In reply to this, the «Karteria» would begin firing grapeshot with the intention of disabling the Ottoman crews and to destroy their ships’ rigging, while the Greek ship’s guns would open fire with explosive rounds destroying three Ottoman vessels.
The Ottoman shore batteries would also come under fire by grape, dispersing their men. Hastings would attempt to capture the remaining Ottoman vessels while coming under musket fire from Ottoman troops who had returned to their posts. Hastings would succeed in capturing two ships, and set fire to the remaining four.
It was a hallmark in the world naval history annals. A steam-engined ship, was able to defeat and sink as series of warships with sails.
News of the Greek victory would quickly spread contributing to fresh recruits joining the revolutionary forces, while after learning of Hastings victory Ibrahim Pasha vowed to take revenge by destroying the Karteria, a promise which would remain unrealized. The Battle of Itea also served as a catalyst to the Battle of Navarino, by provoking aggressive reactions by Ibrahim Pasha.
the anniversary of the naval battle
On the last Sunday of September is celebrated in Itea the anniversary of the naval combat of Angali. Student parade, memorial requiem and wreath laying, music and dance proceedings and performances, and the enactment of the naval battle of Itea take place in a climate of patriotic uplift from the residents and authorities of the city.
the gunship «Karteria»
Unsigned watercolour (1820’s) of steamship Karteria.
KARTERIA (Perseverance) was a steamed engine wheeled gunboat with a length of 38,5 meters, width of 7,6 meters and a displacement of 233 tons. It was built in 1825, at the Brent Shipyard Deptford-on-Thames in England on behalf of the Greek Revolutionary Navy. It was financed mainly from the proceeds of the 2nd Greek Loan raised by the London Philhellenic Committee, but also by Frank Abney Hastings’ private funds.
It had four masts with rectangular sails. At the midst of its two sides, it had the two large outer wheels that were moved by two independent steam engines. This new technology allowed the ship to sail independently of the wind reaching a speed of six knots. It had 4 powerful 68 pound guns and 4 68 pound Paixhans carronades. Through the use of the steam engines, the ship’s gunners could burn and fire up the cannon balls and missiles of the ship’s guns so that they can be used as incendiary, thus the ship, just in 1827 fired 18.000 rounds!“Karteria” had a ship’s company and complement of 175 men of British, Greek and Swedish nationality (17 officers, 22 non-commissioned officers, 110 sailors, 22 gunmen, and 4 cooks!). The American Samuel Gridley Howe was the medical officer.
“Karteria” was in a class of its own, since it laid the foundations for the creation of the first mechanized naval unit in the Revolutionary Navy and it was deemed to be a pioneer ship on a world-wide scale since it surpassed the first steam warship ever made, the USS Demologos with 30 guns on board which was put in service in 1814 but was never used in naval combat. The idea of a steam engine wheeled ship with additional sails, that was equipped with strong, modern naval guns and canons using modern munitions was attributed to Frank Abney Hastings, to whom the ship was entrusted by the Greek government.
After the country’s liberation and the advent of Othonas (King of Otto of Greece), the ship fell into neglect and disrepair and attempts made by the English engineer Alfons Parish and the Bavarian Army officer, Weissenbach did little to save the ship. The ship stopped being used after 1830 due to the bad state that its engines were in. It remained in the main Naval Station until December 1841, after which it ceases to be mentioned in the Register of the Greek Royal Fleet.
Frank Abney Hastings
Posthumous Portrait of Frank Abney Hastings by Spyridon Prosalentis
Frank Abney Hastings (Greek: Φραγκίσκος Άστιγξ) (14 February 1794 – 1 June 1828) was a British naval officer and Philhellene. Born to a noble British family, he served in the Royal Navy, seeing action at the Battle of Trafalgar and the Battle of New Orleans. In 1819 was discharged from the Royal Navy, and a few years later would travel to Greece to aid the Greeks in their struggle for independence, where he would take part in multiple battles, most notably the Battle of Itea, during which his ship the Karteria, would become the first steam-powered warship to see combat.
On 25 May 1828 he was wounded in an attempt to reclaim Missolonghi, and he died a few days later from his injuries in Zakynthos on 1 June. Greece held a national funeral in honor of him. He was laid to rest beneath the arsenal of Poros, today a Hellenic Naval Academy, and his heart is preserved in the Anglican Church in Athens. Multiple monuments in Greece were built in his honor, and several streets were named after him.
Spyridon Trikoupis, while referring to Hastings said that: “…..he passed away on the 20th of May, leaving us with great memories regarding his selfless philhellenism, his glorious struggles for the country and his overall integrity”.
In his biography, General Gordon, who served in the war and wrote its history, stated that : “if there ever was someone that were truly selfless and useful as a philhellene, that was Hastings. He never received any payment or compensation. He spent most of his fortune to keep «Endurance» seaworthy and ready to fight, the only ship in the Hellenic Navy that abided by the rules and regulations pertaining naval discipline”.