Wilhelm, Baron von Tegetthoff - Encyclopedia

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WILHELM VON TEGETTHOFF, BARON (1827-1871), Austrian admiral, son of Lieutenant-Colonel Karl von Tegetthoff, was born at Marburg, in Styria, on the 23rd of December 1827. After passing through the naval college at Venice, he first served afloat in 1845, and in 1848 was made an ensign. In 1849 he was present at the blockade of Venice, resulting in its surrender. In 1852 he was promoted to be a lieutenant, and during the Crimean war was employed on a sort of police duty at the Sulina mouth of the Danube, which brought him to the favourable notice of the Archduke Maximilian, who in 1854 had been appointed head of the navy with the style of rear-admiral. After some time in a semi-official scientific expedition in Egypt, Arabia, and the Red Sea down to the island of Socotra, Tegetthoff was promoted to the rank of captain of the third class, and in 1858 he commanded the corvette "Erzherzog Friedrich" on the coast of Morocco, then in a very disturbed state. The corvette returned to Trieste on the imminence of the war with France; but during 1859 the French fleet commanded the Adriatic in vastly superior force, against which the Austrians were powerless. After the peace Tegetthoff made a voyage to Brazil as aide-de-camp to Maximilian, and in 1860-63 commanded a large frigate in the Levant during the disturbances in Syria, and on the coast of Greece or in the Piraeus at the time of the Greek revolution. Towards the end of 1863 he was sent to the North Sea as commodore in command of two frigates, with which, together with three small Prussian gunboats, he fought an action with the Danish squadron, and though without any decisive success, succeeded in raising the blockade of the mouths of the Elbe and Weser. The Austrian emperor answered Tegetthoff's telegraphic despatch by another promoting him to be rear-admiral, and conferring on him the Order of the Iron Crown. In 1865 he commanded a small squadron in the Mediterranean, and in the war of 1866 was placed in command of the whole effective force of the Austrian navy. With all his efforts, however, this was markedly inferior to the Italian force opposed to it, and when the two fleets met off Lissa on the 20th of July, the decisive victory of the Austrians was entirely due to the personal superiority of Tegetthoff and the officers whom he in great measure had trained. In numbers, in ships, and in armament the Italians were much the more powerful, but they had neither a capable chief nor efficient officers. Tegetthoff was immediately promoted, by telegraph, to the rank of vice-admiral, and among the many decorations conferred on him was one from his former commander, the unfortunate Maximilian, at this time emperor of Mexico, whose body was in the following year brought home by Tegetthoff. In March 1868 he was appointed head of the naval section of the War Office and commander-inchief of the navy, which offices he held till his death at Vienna, after a very short illness, on the 7th of April 1871 - in the words of the semi-official notice - "zu friih fiir Osterreich." (J. K. L.)

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