II. Information on the Greek Uprising Reaches America: Publications
C. Accounts by Greeks of Personal Experiences and Suffering Published in the United States
C1. "Turkish Barbarity. An Affecting Narrative of the Unparalleled Sufferings of Mrs. Sophia Mazro, a Greek Lady of Missolonghi"
Who with her two daughters (at the capture of that Fortress by the Turks) were made prisoners by the Barbarians, by whom their once peaceable dwelling was reduced to ashes, and their unfortunate husband and parent, in his attempts to protect his family, inhumanly put to death in their presence.
Taken from her own mouth, and translated by Mr. Kelch, the Greek agent in London.
Great indeed have been my sufferings for CHRIST's sake, but I will not murmur, for much more did he suffer for me while on earth.”
PROVIDENCE: Printed for G. C. Jennings.-Price 12 ½ Cents.
District of Rhode Island—to wit:
BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the twenty-eighth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight, and in the fifty-second year of the Independence of the United States of America, GEORGE C. JENNINGS, of said district deposited in this office the title of a book the right where, of he claims as Proprietor, in the following words, to wit:-“Turkish Barbarity-an affecting narrative of the unparalleled sufferings of Mrs. Sophia Mazro, a greek lady of Missolonghi, who with her two daughters (at the capture of that fortress by the Turks) were made prisoners by the Barbarians, by whom their once peaceable dwelling was reduced to ashes, and their unfortunate husband and parent, in his attempts to protect his family, inhumanly put to death in their presence. Taken from her own mouth and translated by Mr. KELCH, the Greek Agent in Lon-don-Great indeed have been my sufferings for Christ's sake, but I will not murmur, for much more did he suffer for me while on earth.” In conformity to an Act of Congress entitled “An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the time therein mentioned, and extending the benefit thereof to the Art of designing, engraving, and etching, historical and other prints."
Witness, BENJAMIN COWELL,
Clerk of the Rhode Island District.
UNPARELLELED [sic] SUFFERINGS OF MRS. SOPHIA MAZRO
It is a fact known to almost every individual of this country, that the long persecuted christian inhabitants of ill-fated Greece, have been for several years past contending for their freedom and independence, of the merciless Turk-the avowed enemies of the Cross! During the arduous struggle, the cruelties inflicted upon, and the hardships endured by the Greeks, have been such as to awaken the sympathies of all who feel an interest in their righteous cause-they have indeed deserved the commiseration of the whole christian world. The accounts of their great persecutions, have heretofore been received through the medium of the public prints only-but, there has at length arrived among us, one of the unfortunate subjects, who comes to make a public declaration of them-by her narrative, it will be perceived that she has drank deep of the bitter cup of woe, but has borne her afflictions with that fortitude, which is peculiar only to a true and sincere christian-her narrative follows:-
“I am a native of Greece, and for many years have been zealously attached to the Greek Church, whereby I have, in common with others of the same faith, been made the subject of the most bitter persecutions by the unmerciful Turks. My unfortunate country men submitted to their tyranny, and bore the yoke of bondage, until it could be no longer endured-appealing to the Most High, as to the purity and justness of their cause, and placing implicit reliance on Him, for his kind interposition in their favour [sic], they united to a man, and with one mind arose, determined either to gain their freedom, or perish in the effort. The example was first set by the patriotic Greeks of the Morea, which soon spread to Scio, where after a desperate conflict, they were overpowered, the whole island laid waste, and the few christians who escaped the dreadful slaughter, and was not so fortunate as to make their escape from the island, were obliged again humbly to submit to Turkish bondage.
This melancholly [sic]and unexpected event, so calculated to dishearten and dampen the spirits of the patriotic Greeks, in their first onset, had no other effect than to encrease [sic] their thirst for liberty, and so strengthen their determination to effect it, or perish with their wives and children in the attempt.
I was at this time an inhabitant of Missolonghi, where my christian countrymen arose enmass, to oppose the tyrannical mandates of the Turkish foe. On the first symptoms of a revolt, the Turks flew to arms, but the conflict, altho [sic] a bloody one, was short, victory decided in favour [sic] of the Greeks-had it been otherwise, Missolonghi would undoubtedly have then shared the fate of Scio, and presented a similar scene of cruelty and dissolation. The city was soon after converted into a fortress, with a determination on the part of the Greeks to defend it, so long as any thing to subsist on remained; nor did they fail to do it. Prayers were put up at all the Christian churches by the Bishops, imploring the aid of Heaven in what they conceived a just and righteous cause, and every preparation was made to give the Mahometans a warm reception, should they attempt a conquest-even the females from the ages of 18 to 35, voluntarily proffered their services, and were presented with arms-and it was not an uncommon sight to see a husband and wife with one or more daughters, issuing early in the morning from their dwellings, with muskets in their hands, and proceeding in different directions to their respective divisions.
Although at the time of the extermination of the Turks, the place contained a plentiful supply of provision, yet so numerous were the inhabitants, and all prospects being cut off by a powerful Turkish fleet, of gaining a supply from abroad, that after sustaining and repulsing several unsuccessful attacks by the Infidels, it was found necessary to put every inhabitant of the city on an allowance-a step which was conceived so indispensably necessary, that every one [sic] cheerfully submitted to it, with fond hopes that what was now most to be dreaded, FAMINE, with all its horrors, might be avoided, until we could receive new supplies from our christian brethren abroad-but, alas, their various attempts to relieve us were unsuccessful-their naval force, which for many weeks was plain in view, was so inferior to that of the enemy, that an attempt to have approached so near as to land the provision intended for us, could have produced nothing but their own destruction.
The time at length arrived when what we most fearfully apprehended, was most serious-ly realized every dumb beast of the horse or neat kind, which the city contained, was early seized by order of the Greek commanders, to serve as food to the Greek soldiery-this at length failing, recourse was had to meaner animals and quadrupids [sic], such as dogs, cats, rats, &c. The dreadful scenes of misery and want which the streets now generally presented, and the horror depicted in the countenances of wretched parents, of numerous families of helpless children, falling victims daily to starvation, is beyond the power of imagination.-Mothers, unable longer to afford nourishment to their tender infants, plunged them into the deep ditches surrounding the city, preferring thus to terminate their own children's sufferings, to falling into the hands of the barbarous infidels, from whom they could expect no mercy!
The brave Greeks at length unable and unwilling longer to witness such scenes of horror, and when driven themselves by deprivation to a state of desperation, resolved to open a passage whereby they might be enabled to obtain food for their dying companions and tender offspring, or perish with them in the attempt. with this determination (after repairing to the churches where the sacrament was administered to them,) a sortie was made by 800 picked men, whose object it was to attack a battery of the Turks, on the water side-a movement which was unfortunately anticipated by the Mahometans, who had so well prepared themselves for their reception, that by a tremendous fire, they soon put their assailants to flight, who fled in disorder to the mountains for shelter-the Turks followed up their success and soon with little opposition entered the city with sword in hand!-it was near the close of the day, and O! the horrors which then ensued made too deep an impression on my mind to be ever forgotten! The merciless Turks commenced their work of blood without respect to age or sex! the streets were soon filled with little else but the dead and dying-here might be seen the wretched parents intreating that their lives might suffice, and that those of their unoffending offspring might be spared! and there, the poor children, driven by terror to a state of distraction, pleading for the lives of their parents! but, in vain were their intreaties [sic] for mercy-too great was the thirst of the infuriated monsters for Christian blood! but few women and children were permitted to survive the bloody conflict. The Governor, who had repaired to a church with a few chosen men, repulsed for some time the attacks of the Turks with heroic bravery; but the most of his men being killed, and the doors forced, he sprung a mine and blew up both the church and citadel, destroying both his own life, and that of more than 2,000 Turks.
Myself with my poor husband and children, as our only place of security had sought to escape the fury of the enemy by secreting ourselves (soon after their entrance into the city) in an upper apartment of our dwelling; but which, sharing the fate of others in the general conflagration, we were soon driven therefrom by the devouring fames! O, Heavens! what followed, was too much for the eyes of a mother (enfeebled by sickness and infirmity) to behold-my poor children clung to their wretched father, begging for that protection, which he was longer unable to afford them! expecting no mercy from the hands of monsters already crimsoned with the blood of his countrymen, he manfully defended himself, nor did he yield until so shockingly cut and mangled by the swords of the Infidels, as to render him unable longer to resist!-such I expected would inevitably be the fate of myself and poor children-we kneeled, and improved that which we concluded would be the last moment of our lives, to implore the forgiveness of our sins, and supplicate the mercy of Him, who has power to stay the hand of the assassin-but, we soon found, contrary to our expectations, that our lives were to be spared, but only to endure, if possible, still greater miseries!-my daughters were given to understand that their fate was determined upon-that they were to be sent with many of their Christian female companions to some distant part of the Grand Seignor's dominions, there to be disposed of as slaves, to the highest bidders! but, that it was still in their power to save themselves, by renouncing the Christian Religion, denying the blessed Saviour and embracing Mahometanism-but, I rejoice that I have it in my power to say, that they found my dear children steadfast and immovable in their faith, and that death, in what ever [sic] way the Mahometan infidels might have been pleased to inflict it, would have been preferred to that of complying with their impious request.
The moment had now arrived when fate had decreed that I was to be separated (per-haps forever) from my poor beloved children! we had only a moment's time allowed us to embrace, when they were dragged from me by the unfeeling wretches, and ordered on board the vessel which was destined to convey them to a distant land, where they were to be consigned to slavery! Before embarking, they were indulged with the privilege of kneeling and kissing the soil of their birth place, and the last christian ground on which they, in all probability, would ever again be permitted to walk!-my eyes followed them until forced by the winds and waves beyond my view! gladly would I have accompanied them, and shared with them in their miseries, but this indulgence was denied me.
I was not left at liberty to wander wherever I pleased, without a home, and deprived by the cruel hands of my enemies of all my dear connexions [sic]; and to add to my great afflicttions, I was now doomed to be exposed continually to the insults of those who profess to be the avowed enemies of the cross!-nor was it long before I was reduced to the most awful extremities, by hunger and despair! the very recollection of my extreme sufferings for more than three months, now shocks my memory! by day (half clad) I wandered about searching among the ruins, and begging in vain of the authors of my wretched-ness for something to appease the cravings of nature and at night seeking some shelving rock, beneath which I might repose my wearied limbs! nor was I without my miserable companions-both women and children, whose sufferings were equal and in some instances greater than my own, dying with hunger, naked and forsaken, deprived of their homes, and subject to the insults and derision of those whose hearts were callous to every humane feeling, were continually presenting themselves before my eyes! Some of my christian readers may suspect this picture to be exaggerated, but I assure them that it is not, indeed so far from it, that without hazarding truth, it might be painted in still deeper colours [sic]! O, that I could forever efface those dreadful scenes from my memory!
When driven by the loud calls of hunger to beg relief of an unfeeling Turk, his only reply was “deny your Saviour, and acknowledge Mahomet, and your wants shall be sup-plied!” “never! (was my constant reply) I will yet, if possible, endure greater miseries for the sake of Him, who suffered so much, and gave his life up a sacrifice for me, while on earth!” My only resource was to my prayers, which I did not fail to repeat night and gratitude for that Benevolent Being, who has supported me under my many afflictions, to doubt-when least expected, relief came-a stranger appeared among us (who, although not a Greek) assured us that we were worshippers of one and the same Saviour-he came he said to alleviate our sufferings-he had brought us provision and clothing which was generously sent by our christian friends, of a far distant country (Ameri-ca) whom we had never and probably should never see in this world!-and O, how seasonable was this relief-it was the means of preserving the lives of many poor women and children and never may I or my companions in misery forget to mention those good people, of one and the same faith, in our daily prayers! and humbly petition that peace and prosperity may attend them through this life, and finally receive in the world to come that reward which their acts of christian benevolence so justly entitles them.
Our generous benefactor was accompanied by another, whom I afterward found was the commander of an English armed vessel, to him I related (by the help of an interpreter) the tale of my afflictions, which seemed so much to effect him as to draw tears from his eyes!– “madam (said he) you have already suffered too much from the persecutions of such unmerciful barbarians-leave them until such time as your christian friends shall succeed so far in avenging your wrongs, as to effect their extermination, root and branch-if you will accept a passage with me to England, there I promise you, you shall be conveyed in safety; where, I will guarantee, you will be welcomly [sic] received, and will find christian friends who will cheerfully contribute to your relief!"-and in justice to this good man, I must say that he did not deceive me, all of his promises have been fully and satisfactorily realized, and I can never reflect without the most grateful sensibility, on the charity and hospitality which my christian friends in England have exerted towards me, for which it is my sincere prayer, that they may receive a rich reward in another and better world.”
THE EXILE OF SCIO
To the foregoing melancholy [sic] tale of human sufferings, we have thought that it would not be disinteresting to our readers, to annex another of an unfortunate Female of Scio-her narrative is here recorded as it was related by her to two English gentlemen, who visited the shores of that unfortunate island, soon after the horrid butchery of its Christian inhabitants by the unmerciful Turks. In speaking of Scio, one of the gentle-men above mentioned observes:- The view on either shore is splendidly beautiful: but on both, the associations of memory cast a feeling of disgust over every object: we could not look on the verdent [sic] hills of Scio without a shuddering recollection of the slaughter that had so lately stained them, whilst the opposite and equally beautiful coast was alike detestable as the home of its perpetrators. But whilst to us the scene was anything but a pleasing one, there was one individual on board our vessel to whom the sight of the devoted island served to summon up the most heart rending reflections. This was a young Greek lady of twenty-two or twenty-three years of age, a native of the island, a witness to its massacre, and a destitute exile in consequence of the murder of her family. She was now on her way with us to Smyrna, in order to place herself under the protection of a distant relative, whom she hoped though, faintly, to find surviving. She sat all day upon the deck, watching with wishful eyes the shores of her native island, at every approach which our vessel made towards it, she seemed anxious to recognize some scene that had once been familiar, or perhaps some now-deserted home that had once been the shelter of her friends; and when, on the opposite tack, we again neared the Turkish coast, she turned her back upon its hated hills to watch the retreating shores of her desolate home. I had not been aware of her being on board, as her national retiring habits had prevented her appearing upon deck during the early part of the voyage; but as she drew near Scio, feeling seemed to overcome education and prejudice, and she sat all day beneath the awning to satiate herself with gazing and with recollection.
Towards evening we drew near the ruined town, built on the sea-shore, at the foot of a wooded hill, which had been the site of the ancient city of Scio. Its houses seemed all roofless and deserted, whilst the numerous groups of tall and graceful cypresses which rose amidst them, contrasted sadly with the surrounding desolation; all was solitude and silence; we could not descry a single living creature on the beach, whilst from the shattered fortress on the shore, the blood red flag of Mahomed waved in crimson pride above the scene of its late barbarous triumph. At sunset the wind changed; we passed the Spalmadores and Ipsara, and, rounding the promontory oft Erythræ, entered the bay of Smyrna. As we caught the last glimpse of the ruins of Scio, the unfortunate pointed out the remains of a house to the north of the town, which had been her father's; it was now in ruins, and as clearly as we could discern, appeared to be of large dimensions, and situated on one of the most picturesque points of Scio. Her name, she said was Kalerdji, and her father had been one of the commissioners for collecting the revenue of the Sul-tana from the gum-mastic of the Island. On the breaking out of the revolution in the Morea, strong apprehensions of a similar revolt in Scio were entertained in the Divan, and a number of the most distinguished Greeks of the island were selected to be sent to Constantinople as hostages for the loyalty of the remainder; amongst these were her father and her only brother; herself, her mother, and two elder sisters being left alone in Scio. Tranquility continued undisturbed in the island for more than a year, thought the accounts of the reiterated successes of the Moreots were daily stirring up the energies of the inhabitants, whose turbulence was only suppressed by the immediate dread of the Turkish garrison in the Genoese fortress on the beach, the only strong hold in Scio.
One evening, however, a squadron of their vessels, manned with Samians, entered the harbor, and aided by the lowest rabble of the town, succeeded in despatching [sic] the guard, and taking possession of the fortress. But the deed was done without calculation, and could be productive of no beneficial result; the fort was untenable, and on the almost immediate arrival of the Ottoman fleet, a capitulation, without a blow ensued. The news brought by the hostile armament was of the instant execution of the ill-fated hostages, the moment the accounts of the revolt had reached the Porte. Overwhelmed with grief for the loss of their only and dearly beloved protectors, the family of Kalerdji spend the few intervening days in vain but poignant regret, and in the seclusion of their bereft mansion knew nothing of that was passing at the town; where, whilst the Greeks were occupied in supplications and submission to the Captain Pacha, the Turks in false protestations of forgiveness and amnesty, the troops of the Sultan disembarked at the fortress. At length the preparations for slaughter were completed, and the work of death commenced.
It was on the evening of the third day from the arrival of the Turkish admiral, that the family of the wretched being who lived to tell the tale, descried the flames that rose from the burning mansions of their friends, and heard, in the calm silence of twilight, the dis-tant death scream of their butchered townsmen; whilst a few flying wretches, close pursued by their infuriate murderers, told them but too truly of their impending fate. As one of the most important in the valley, their family was almost the first marked out for murder, and ere they had a moment to think of precaution, a party of Turkish soldiers beset the house, which afforded but few resources for refuge or concealment. From a place of imperfect security, this distracted young lady was an involuntary witness to the murder of her miserable sisters, aggravated by every insult and indignity suggested by brutality and crime, whilst her frantic mother was stabbed upon the lifeless corpses of her violate offspring. Satiated with plunder, the monsters left the house in search of far, ther [sic] victims, whilst she crept from her hiding place to take a last farewell of her butchered parent, and Ay for refuge to the mountains. She had scarce dropped a tear over the immolated remains of all that was dear to her, and made a step towards the door, when he perceived a fresh party of demons already at the threshold. Too late to regain her place of refuge, death, with all its aggravated horrors, seemed now inevitable, till on the moment she adopted an expedient. She few towards the heap of slaughter, smeared herself with the still oozing blood of her mother, and falling on her face beside her, she lay motionless as death. The Turks entered the house, but, finding their errand anticipated, were again departing, when one of them, perceiving a brilliant sparkling on the finger of this only surviving member of the murdered family, returned to secure it. He lifted the apparently lifeless hand, and attempted to draw it off; it had, however, been too long, too dearly worn; it was the gift of her effianced [sic] husband, and had tarried till it was now only to be withdrawn from the finger by an effort.- The Turk, however, made but quick work; after in vain twisting her hand in every direction to accomplish his purpose, he drew a knive [sic] from his girdle and commenced slicing off the flesh from the finger. This was the last scene she could remember. It was midnight when she awoke from the swoon into which her agony and her effort to conceal it had thrown her, and she lay, cold and benumbed, surrounded by the now clotted streams of her last loved friends. Necessity now armed her with energy; no time was left for consideration, and day would soon be breaking. She rose, and still faint with terror and the loss of blood, flew to a spot where the valuables of the house had been secured; disposing of the most portable about her person, she took her way to the mountains. She pointed out to us the cliff where she had long lay concealed, and the distant track by which she had gained it, through a path at every step impeded by the dead or dying remains of her fellow-countrymen. By the time she imagined the tide of terror had flowed past, when she no longer observed from her lofty refuge the daily pursuits and murder of the immolated Sciots, and when she saw the Ottoman fleet sail from the harbour [sic] beneath its crimson pennon, now doubly tinged with blood, she descended with her fugitive companions to the opposite shore of the island. Here, after waiting for many a tedious day, she succeed-ed in getting on board an Austrian vessel, the master of which engaged to land her at Hydra, in return for the quantity of jewels and gold she had been able to reserve. She reached the island in safety, where she had now remained for nearly two years, but, finding or fancying her various benefactors to be weary of their charge, she was now going to seek, even in the land of her enemies, a relative who had been living at Smyrna, but whom she knew not if she should still find surviving or fallen by the sabre of their com-mon enemy.
Her tale was told with a calm composure of oft-repeated and long contemplated grief-she shed no tear in its relation; she scarcely heaved a sigh over her sorrows-she seemed, young as she was, to have already made her alliance with misery. She had now, she said, but one hope left-and if that should fail, she had only death to look to!
[ In confirmation of the truth of the preceding Narratives, of two of the unfortunate Females of Greece, as regards their deprivations and sufferings, and the awful barbarities of the Turks, we would now present the reader with well authenticated accounts from Dr. Howe and Mr. J. P. MILLER, who have for some time resided in that country as agents to and under the patronage of the American Greek Committees-we shall commence with some extracts from a letter of the latter:]
[Editor's Note: The Howe and Miller letters are in Chapter VI, p. 341]
Source: Constantine G. Hatzidimitriou, Founded on Freedom and Virtue: Documents Illustrating the Impact in the United States of the Greek War of Independence, 1821-1829 (New Rochelle, New York: Aristide D. Caratzas, 2002).