In the mysteries of the Marsh

The pen of Penelope Delta has bestowed eternal glory on the Makedonomachoi of the Marsh of Yiannitsa, most of all on Captain Agras, who was lost so early. Her research produced another important historical source: the memoirs of the captains of the marsh, which Delta herself commissioned. The material makes clear why both the Greek and Bulgarian bands were so interested in the vast, swampy marsh formed by the nebulous bed of the Loudias river. The bands would use the fishing huts, and add low walls or build larger ones. They used flat boats called plaves in order to move around the marshes and the assistance of local guides who knew the labyrinthine paths through the thick reeds. Living conditions, both in the summer and in the winter, were enough to wear down even the toughest of fighters. The swamp fevers and rheumatism undermined their health and they lived with thick swarms of mosquitoes and heavy humidity for company. No one was left untouched.

There were two types of operation in this area: the occupation of strategic points within the Marsh by boat and occasional raids on nearby villages by foot. The first Greek bands to come here were those of Stavros Rigas and Giorgos Tombras in late 1905. In the spring of 1907 the extensive operations of the Turkish army and artillery seriously curtailed the actions of all the bands in the region. A few weeks later, in early June, Agras, deluded by his own exuberant romanticism, was hung by the Bulgarians near the village which today bears his name.