The greater part of the armed Macedonian struggle was waged in the mountains of western Macedonia, the homeland of the most active members of both the Greek Committee and IMRO. In Kastoria, as in other districts of Macedonia, the Slav-speaking population was divided between those who supported the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate and those who sided with the Bulgarian Exarchate.
Yermanos, the metropolitan of Kastoria, was the first to advocate and implement the idea of an armed counter-attack using local Patriarchal chieftains -- who were Greek-, Vlach- and Slav-speakers -- in the belief that IMRO's footing among the Slav-speaking followers of the Patriarchate was not particularly firm.
Pavlos Melas, an officer in the Greek army, can be said to have initiated the influx of volunteer fighters from Greece, since the vast publicity surrounding his death (October 1904) at Statitsa (present village Melas) near Kastoria drew the attention of Greece to the Macedonian problem.
The fighting, however, was particularly burdensome for the farming and stock-breeding communities in the mountains. For four years not only did they have to feed and shelter hundreds of armed men, they also frequently paid with their blood for their allegiance to one or the other camp.