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The Peloponnesus

This peninsula is roughly 100 miles from north to south and 75 miles from west to east. Like the rest of Greece, it is very mountainous. The main stem of the mountains is parallel to and just south of the Gulf of Corinth and extends eastward into the peninsula of Argolis. The highest part of the chain is near its center, where altitudes exceed 7,700 feet.

The center of the Peloponnesus is a high plateau encircled by mountains and reached from the seaboard through narrow passes. The east boundary of this plateau is the Malevo Mountains, whose altitudes exceed 6,000 feet and which extend to Cape Malea. The west boundary is formed by the Pentedaktylon Mountains; their high point is Mt. St. Elias,* with an altitude of 7,874 feet. Between these two chains of mountains is the Eurotas valley, which affords the best means of approach to the central plateau of Arcadia. There is a road up this valley but no railroad.

West of the Pentedaktylon Mountains is the Messene valley. There are both a road and a railroad up this valley to the Arcadian plateau, but near Psara (or Isara) they go through a difficult pass sometimes called Langada Pass. The railroad has steep grades and horseshoe curves in crossing the mountains and the road very steep grades.

West of the Messene valley is another mountain range, generally parallel to the west coast. The highest part of this chain is at the north end, Mt. Olonos (7,300'), from where the peaks gradually decline in height to around 3,000 feet at the south end, near Methone and Cape Gallo.

The Peloponnesus contains several possible landing places for invasion forces, which (with the exception of Patras) are of no importance in themselves and quite without resources. Patras, is a poor, unkempt town but with a magnificent harbor, ample for large convoys. Ships anchor off the coast, so troops and supplies must be debarked in barges. There are excellent stone quays, ample space for handling stores, and a railroad. Good roads extend to the east and south. There is some level and cultivated area around Patras where troops can be assembled. Some 60 miles southwest from Patras is the island of Zakynthos (Zante). Between this island and the mainland is a roadstead in which ships can assemble.

Along the coast south of Patras are numerous beaches where landings could be made. Small ports exist at Katakolon and Kyparissia. On the south coast Kalamai, better known perhaps as Kalamata, is a small port, with adjacent beaches leading to the Messene valley. In the Eurotas valley is another small port of Gytheion, also with adjacent beaches. Both these valleys are narrow. The mountains approach the sea and defense positions are probably in rear of the beach-covering batteries which can effectively smother landing attempts. The mountains afford the defenders excellent OPs which, with the excellent visibility common in these areas, should enable the defense to locate targets and observe fire.

On the east coast of the Peloponnesus is the Argolikos Gulf, which contains a small but fine port at Nauplion. This lies in rear of a promontory jutting westward into the gulf from the east side. The port is completely protected from shelling by naval vessels, the promontory being 705 feet high and nearly precipitous.

Outside of the places mentioned there are no other ports, and few beaches suitable for landing considerable forces.

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