Fifty Men Who Served in the Army Are Ready to Leave San Francisco for Crete at a Moment’s Notice.




They Are Regularly Drilled by an Ex-Grecian Artillery Officer.




The Young Men Have Readied to the Standard and Are Anxious to Fight.


Peter Carvoones, Demetrius Zervas, Demosthenes Capilos, Peter Varellas and a half dozen others are watching the trouble in Greece with double interest. They, with fifty companions who have "seen service," are ready at a moment’s notice to leave for the mother country, and every one of them is a trained soldier. They served their time in the army, and while nearly every one of them is an American citizen they still consider themselves in duty bound to obey the call to arms issued by the Hellenic Government.

Fifty of them drill every night in a hall on East street, and the leaders assert that <…> of men that has left California in years.

Yesterday the restaurants on the steamers San Rafael and the Sausalito and the Union Restaurant on East street were deserted by the cooks and waiters. All the hands were anxious to find out what was going on, and every one of them is more than anxious to get a chance to reach Athens and join in the fight against Turkey. Their sudden departure made things very awkward on the steamers and in the restaurants, but the proprietors put up with the trouble and freely forgave the boys on account of the national feeling.

"We are all sympathy for the mother country," said M. D. Vamvales yesterday. "Still nearly every one of us has a little business of his own here, and we will not make a move until we know that war is actually inevitable. Then you will find every one of us ready to sacrifice everything in order to go to the front.

"All the Greeks who were born in 1866 and from that up to 1874 are liable for service in the army, and every one of them will obey the call. Nearly all of us are American citizens, but when our duty does not keep up tied to our adopted country, why then we will go back to our first home and fight for our fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers and relatives."

Peter Garvoones is really head and front of the present movement, and he will be captain of the company that will leave San Francisco for New York in a few days if called upon. "We don’t want any money from the Greek Consul," said he yesterday. "Every one of us will pay his own way, and those who have no money will work their passage. Our first duty is to the United States, and we will do nothing that will bring our adopted country into disrepute. Should Uncle Sam get into trouble with a foreign power we would stay at home and fight for Uncle Sam, even if his arms were turned against Greece. But now, when all Europe is trying to coerce King George and our relatives are in danger and our Government does not require our assistance, then, I think, it is time for us to get in and show our colors.

"We are fifty strong, and the force can be increased to a hundred at any time. The leaders are all Spartans, and descendants of the 300 who, under the leadership of Leonilas, defeated the Persian hosts at the pass of Thermopylae. Every one of our little band is ready to fight at a moment’s notice, and we will start for New York the moment war is declared. We have all quit work, and are now ready for the call to arms."

Constantine Capilos is acting the part of the heavy father to all "the boys" who are so anxious to fight the Turk. "There are almost thirty-five of them in California, who are liable to be called to arms," said he, when talking about the matter. "They are from 21 to 31 years of age, and would come under what you would call the first draft. They would not go alone, however, as every Greek in the community that can carry a musket is more than anxious to fire a shot in defence of the old flag.

"I am more than surprised with the sentiment among my American friends. Every one of them is in sympathy with Greece, and I honestly think that if a band of Greeks started from here to-morrow there would be twice as many Americans ready to cast in their lot in the venture."

All the young Spartans go to Capilos for advice, and not one of them will make a move unless he says so. In the meantime, however, nearly every Greek restaurant and business house in the City is tied up, as the employees are on the warpath, and they have packed their valises and are ready at a moment’s notice to start for Athens.

The usual drill took place last night, and the full force of the company was present. Sergeant Zervas put the men through the usual exercises, and in their Greek uniforms they made a very pretty picture. "I have only been about a year in California, but just the same I consider this my home," said he. "The United States has no use of our arms; so mother country call us and we will go. I was sergeant of artillery on the frontier under General P. Colokotronis, who is now the head of the artillery division of the army, and under him I first smelt powder. He is a fighter and no mistake, and I am just aching to get back to fight under his leadership again."

Peter Varellas has been away from Sparta a little over six years. "I love America," said he yesterday, "and my first duty is to my adopted country. But then America does not want my assistance and my father, mother, sisters and brothers are in Greece, and they do want my help. We are organized and ready to leave at a moment’s notice and every one of our little band of fifty will pay his own way."

Every night the Greeks drill in their hall on East street and every night the war spirit grows. They are conservative, but nevertheless the slightest provocation will see an exodus of armed men from San Francisco bound for Crete.

The San Francisco Call, Tuesday, March 9, 1897.