This article provides short notes on Artemisium.
The defeat at Thermopylae entailed the retirement of the Greek fleet. To engage the Persian fleet at Artemisium was absolutely essential for the maintenance of Thermopylae and to the general plan of defence.
First encounter with the Persian fleet took place between three Greek vessels reconnoitring in the Thermaic gulf and ten large, swift vessels of the enemy.
The Greeks succeeded in capturing thirty Persian ships. The night was stormy; two hundred Persian ships were wrecked off the dangerous coast known as the Hollows. This enabled the fifty-three Attic ships at the Epirus to join the main body. Here in the strait of Artemisium several skirmishes took place but no decisive result was reached.
All the same, as the Persians were the assailants on the last occasion, it appeared as though the Greeks were being gradually beaten from their post. In the mean time the news of the disaster reached the Greek fleet at Artemisium, which released the fleet, for nothing could be gained by holding the strait. The Greeks forthwith weighed anchor and sailed to the shores of Attica.
On their return from Artemisium Athenians saw with indignant disappointment as well as dismay that the conqueror was in full march from Thermopylae, that road to Athens was open to him and the Peloponnesians were absorbed exclusively in the defence of their own Isthmus and their own separate existence.
The’ fleet from Artemisium had been directed to muster at the harbour of Troezen, there to await such reinforcement as could be got together. But Athenians entreated Eurybiades to halt at Salamis so as to allow them a short time for consultation in the critical state of their affairs and to aid them in the transport of their families. Salamis thus became, for the time being the naval station of the Greeks.
Meanwhile Themistocles and the Athenian seamen made their mournful entry into Athens. Gloomy as the prospect appeared, there was little room for difference of opinion and still less time for delay. The authorities and the public assembly at once issued a proclamation, enjoining every Athenian to remove his family out of the country.
We may better imagine the state of tumult and terror that followed this order for mass evacuation and that again in less than six days. The migration of so many men, women and children was a scene of tears and misery only inferior to what would have happened if they remained in the city when it was captured by the Persians.