The greatest part of the armed Macedonian Struggle was waged in the mountains of western Macedonia, the homeland of the most active members of the Greek Committee and the Internal Macedonian-Adrianopolitan Revolutionary Organization, known as IMRO.
Yermanos Karavangelis, the metropolitan of Kastoria, was the first to advocate and implement the idea of an armed counterattack using local patriarchal chieftains, in the belief that IMRO's footing among the Slav-speaking followers of the Patriarchate was not solid.
The nucleus of Karavangelis' organization was the band led by the local chieftain Kotas Christou, while Pavlos Melas, an officer in the Greek army, initiated the influx of volunteer fighters from Greece; the publicity surrounding his death at Statista near Kastoria drew the attention of Athens 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.