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Wilhelm von Tegetthoff

wilhelm von tegetthoff, admiral wilhelm von tegetthoff
Second Schleswig War

  • Battle of Heligoland

Austro-Prussian War

  • Battle of Lissa

Wilhelm von Tegetthoff 23 December 1827 – 7 April 1871 was an Austrian admiral He commanded the fleet of the North Sea during the Second Schleswig War of 1864, and the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 He is often considered one of the best naval officers of the 19th century, due to his tactical inventiveness, sense of command, and inspirational leadership12


  • 1 Early life and career
  • 2 Second Schleswig War
  • 3 Seven Weeks' War
  • 4 Late years
  • 5 Memorials
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 Literature
  • 9 External links

Early life and careeredit

Tegetthoff was born in Marburg, Styria in Austrian Empire now Maribor in Slovenia, on 23 December 1827 the son of Karl von Tegetthoff, an Oberstleutnant in the Austrian Army On his mother's side he was related to Johann Kaspar Freiherr von Seiller, Mayor of Vienna from 1851 to 1861 Entering the Marinecollegium naval academy in Venice in 1840, Tegetthoff became a Seekadett on 23 July 1845 and witnessed the Venetian uprising in 1848/49 He received a commission upon his graduation on 16 April 1849 and took part in the blockade of Venice from May to August 1849 Tegetthoff was promoted to Fregattenleutnant on 16 June 1851 and Linienschiffsleutnant on 16 November 18523

Tegetthoff received his first command, the naval schooner Elisabeth, in 1854 This was at the time of the Austrian Navy's intensive conversion to steam power, of which he was an earnest advocate In 1855 he was appointed commander of the paddle steamer Taurus, patrolling the Sulina mouth of the Danube during the Crimean War This service brought him to the favorable notice of Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria, the Oberkommandant der Marine High Commander of the Navy, with whom he had been acquainted since 1850 Promoted to Korvettenkapitän in 1857, Tegetthoff served on a semi-official scientific expedition to the Red Sea Having shown exceptional diplomatic and organizational ability, in December 1857 he was appointed a staff officer He was named commander in 1858 of the new screw corvette Erzherzog Friedrich on the coast of Morocco, then in a confused state of disorder3

The Italian campaign of 1859 saw the Austrians unable to challenge the French fleet for mastery of the Adriatic With the return of peace, Tegetthoff accompanied Ferdinand Maximilian on a voyage to Brazil to visit Emperor Pedro II during the winter of 1859/60 Promoted Fregattenkapitän on 27 April 1860 and Linienschiffskapitän on 23 November 1861, he was named commander of the Levant Squadron in 1862 In this capacity, he monitored the Greek revolution that deposed King Otto I and the anti-Western disturbances in Syria3

Second Schleswig Waredit

Tegetthoff centre at the Battle of Lissa, painting by Anton Romako, 1880

During the Second Schleswig War, Tegetthoff as a Kommodore was given command, in February 1864, of a small Austrian squadron that sailed to the North Sea to support the very weak Prussian naval forces against the superior Danish navy which was blockading northern German ports He was engaged by a Danish squadron commanded by Edouard Suenson at the Battle of Heligoland, in which Tegetthoff's flagship, the screw frigate Schwarzenberg, caught fire in a close-range gunnery fight with the Danish frigates Niels Juell and Jylland Although the action was a tactical defeat for Tegetthoff, he achieved his main objective since the Danish squadron was shortly thereafter recalled to Copenhagen, lifting the blockade of the Elbe and Weser ports Tegetthoff's telegraphic dispatch was answered by Emperor Franz Josef I with another on 12 May 1864 promoting him Kontreadmiral Rear Admiral and conferring upon him the Order of the Iron Crown

Seven Weeks' Waredit

Tegetthoff was appointed commander of the Austrian battle fleet on 9 May 1866, shortly before the Seven Weeks' War against Italy Although the Italian fleet was larger and more powerful, Tegetthoff decided to engage it after a successful reconnaissance of the Italian base of Ancona on 27 June 1866 With their army suffering defeats against the Austrians during the first week of the war from 20 to 27 June 1866, the Italians sought a victory over the Austrian navy by sending their fleet against the Austrian naval base at Lissa, off the coast of Dalmatia near Spàlato Split on 16 July 1866 Encountering the Italian fleet early on the morning of 20 July 1866, Tegetthoff sailed straight for the center of the Italian fleet, hoping to ram the ships to make up for his own fleet's lack of firepower Rammstosstaktik The smoke from the Italian ships made visibility very poor, however, and the Austrians missed the Italian fleet completely Swinging around, Tegetthoff again charged, this time setting two Italian armored ships on fire and damaging several more

After Tegetthoff's flagship, the Erzherzog Ferdinand Max, rammed and sank the armored Italian frigate Re d'Italia, the Italian fleet retreated the next day Tegetthoff returned in triumph to his base at Pola Nevertheless, his victory did not materially affect the outcome of the war, as Italy's alliance with Prussia ensured an advantageous peace Tegetthoff was immediately promoted, by telegraph, to Vizeadmiral Vice Admiral He received congratulatory telegrams from Ferdinand Maximilian, by then the embattled Emperor of Mexico, and Vizeadmiral Hans Birch Dahlerup, former Oberkommandant der Marine High Commandant of the Navy Tegetthoff was decorated with the Commander's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa and made honorary citizen of Vienna

Following the victory of Lissa in the although lost Austro-Prussian War, Tegetthoff urged Franz Josef to annex the hinterland of the Dalmatian coast, so as to protect the region for development of naval bases This was in fact accomplished with the occupation 1878 and annexation 1908 of Bosnia and Herzegovina, though long after Tegetthoff's death

Tegetthoff undertook a journey of study to France, Britain and the United States in 1866/67 Upon the execution of Ferdinand Maximilian by the Mexican government of Benito Juárez, Tegetthoff was sent with the screw frigate Novara to bring his body home to Austria, arriving in the port of Trieste on 16 January 1868

Late yearsedit

He received the post of Marinekommandant, as the chief administrative officer was named in 1865 in succession of Viceadmiral Ludwig von Fautz In March 1868 Tegetthoff took also charge as Chef der Marinesektion Chief of the Naval Section of the War Ministry of the new dual monarchy Despite considerable resistance from the General Staff, he vigorously pursued a complete reform of the Austro-Hungarian Navy; his reforms remained in force until the fall of the Donaumonarchie in 1918

On 1 April 1868 Tegetthoff was made a Geheimrat and a member of the Herrenhaus Tegetthoff died suddenly from pneumonia on 7 April 1871 in Vienna at the age of 43 His grave is located in the cemetery of St Leonhard in Graz4

He was succeeded as head of the naval administration by Friedrich von Pöck


Tegetthoff Denkmal, Praterstern, Vienna

Memorials to Tegetthoff were erected in Marburg, Vienna and Pola The monument on Vienna's Praterstern, the largest traffic junction of the city, consists of a column 11 meters high by Karl Hasenauer, topped by a bronze statue of Tegetthoff, some 35 meters in height, by Carl Kundmann and was finished in 18865 The memorial at Pola, also by Kundmann, was erected in 1877 and consists of a bronze statue of Tegetthoff, with supporting bronze mythological figures Pola passed to Italian sovereignty in 1919, and in 1935 the monument was moved to Graz, Austria

Tegetthoff was pictured on an Austrian postage stamp in 1935 and on a 20-euro coin minted in 2004 see below Ships named for Tegetthoff included:

  • The arctic research ship SMS Tegetthoff 1872
  • The central battery ship SMS Tegetthoff 1878 – renamed SMS Mars in 1912
  • The dreadnought battleship SMS Tegetthoff 1912

Of these, the first was used in the 1872–74 arctic expedition of Julius von Payer and Karl Weyprecht which discovered Franz Josef Land in 1873 The expedition's first discovery was named Cape Tegetthoff

See alsoedit

Media related to Baron Wilhelm von Tegetthoff at Wikimedia Commons

SMS Erzherzog Ferdinand Max coin featuring Rear-Admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff
  • Wilhelm von Tegetthoff has left such a legacy behind that he was selected as a motive for a very recent commemorative coin: the 20 euro SMS Erzherzog Ferdinand Max minted on September 15, 2004 The reverse shows the Rear-Admiral after a painting by Anton Romako, standing on the bridge of the SMS Erzherzog Ferdinand Max In front of him four sailors are struggling with the wheel while bringing the ship into position
  • Austro-Hungarian Navy – the Navy following the 1867 Ausgleich, which created the Dual Monarchy
  • SMS Tegetthoff 1912 – Austro-Hungarian dreadnought battleship
  • Battle of Lissa for at more detailed description of his most famous sea battle


  1. ^ Antonio Schmidt-Brentano: Die KK bzw KuK Generalität 1816–1918 Österreichisches Staatsarchiv, Wien 2007, S 185 PDF
  2. ^ Antonio Schmidt-Brentano: Die österreichischen Admirale Band I 1808–1895, Bibliotheksverlag, Osnabrück 1997, S 176–187
  3. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911
  4. ^ Manfred Jasser: Hoch vom Dachstein an Das Steiermark-BrevierPaul Neff Verlag, Wien 1990 ISBN 3-7014-0131-4 S 64 In 1871 One florin match in today's money about six euros
  5. ^ Felix Czeike: Historisches Lexikon Wien, volume 5, Kremayr & Scheriau, Vienna 1997, ISBN 3-218-00547-7, p 424
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed 1911 "Tegetthoff, Wilhelm von" Encyclopædia Britannica 26 11th ed Cambridge University Press pp 504–505 


  • German Wikipedia entry 'Wilhelm von Tegetthoff' de:Wilhelm von Tegetthoff
  • Joan Haslip, The Crown of Mexico New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971
  • Alan Palmer, Twilight of the Habsburgs The Life and Times of the Emperor Francis Joseph New York: Grove Press, 1994 ISBN 0-87113-665-1
  • George Richard Marek, The Eagles Die Franz Joseph, Elisabeth, and their Austria New York: Harper & Row, 1974
  • Anthony Sokol, The Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Navy Annapolis: US Naval Institute, 1968
  • Klaus Müller: Tegetthoffs Marsch in die Nordsee Oeversee, Düppeler Schanzen, Helgoland im deutsch-dänischen Krieg, Verlag Styria, Graz 1991, ISBN 3-222-12007-2
  • Christian Ortner: Der Seekrieg in der Adria 1866, in: Viribus Unitis, Jahresbericht 2010 des Heeresgeschichtlichen Museums Wien 2011, S 100-124, ISBN 978-3-902551-19-1
  • Ulrich Schöndorfer: Wilhelm von Tegetthoff, Berglandverlag, Wien 1958
  • Peter Handel-Mazzetti, Hans Hugo Sokol: Wilhelm von Tegetthoff, Ein großer Österreicher, OÖ Landesverlag, Linz 1952
  • Kapitel 7: Wilhelm von Tegetthoff, in: Wilhelm Wolfslast: Helden der See Band 1 Entdecker und Admirale, Berlin 1944, S 102-117
  • Helmut Neuhold: Österreichs Helden zur See S108-139 Styria Verlag Wien-Graz-Klagenfurt 2010 ISBN 978-3-222-13306-0
  • Agnes Husslein Hrsg: Anton Romako Tegetthoff in der Seeschlacht bei Lissa Katalog zur Ausstellung in der Österreichischen Galerie Belvedere, Wien 2010, ISBN 978-3-901508-79-0
  • Pemsel, Helmut "Wilhelm von Tegetthoff: Admiral of the Unexpected" In The Great Admirals: Command at Sea, 1587-1945 Edited by Jack Sweetman Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1997 ISBN 0-87021-229-X

External linksedit

  • Literature by and about Wilhelm von Tegetthoff in the German National Library catalogue
Military offices
Preceded by
Ludwig von Fautz
Commander-in-Chief of the Austro-Hungarian Naval Fleet
Succeeded by
Friedrich von Pöck
Preceded by
Ludwig von Fautz
Chief of the Naval Section
Succeeded by
Friedrich von Pöck

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