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1866 GERMAN PRUSSIAN BATTLE OF KOENIGGRAETZ MAIN ARMEE MEDALGER059Reg Price:
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About this itemSCARCE ORIGINAL PRUSSIA. Commemorative Cross for 1866 with ‘Main Armee’ inscription
(PREUSSEN. Erinnerungskreuz 1866 mit der Inschrift ‘Der Main-Armee’)
It is not difficult to understand why the Battle of Königgrätz in 1866 is still considered to be one of the decisive battles of the modern era. This battle and the campaign demonstrated the power of Prussian science and military art.
The medal was instituted by King Wilhelm I on 20 September 1866 following the victorious war against Austria and its German allies. There were four versions: for those present at the battle of Königgrätz, for the Army of the Main, for ‘Trueue Kriegern’ (for those combatant troops not present at Königgrätz nor part of the Army of the Main) and for non-combatants. This version is for the Army of the Main, based in the south-west, tasked with dealing with the forces of those German states, such as Bavaria, which had sided with Austria, whilst the principal Prussian forces advanced into (then Austrian) Bohemia. The medal was cast from the bronze of captured Austrian cannon. A very good example
The Seven Week’s War, as the campaign in Bohemia became popularly known, was the first occasion in which the steel-rifled cannon and the breech-loading rifle were seriously put to the test. Likewise, the use made of the electric telegraph and railways pointed to the future importance of communication and transport. As a battle alone, with no frills attached, Königgrätz (sometimes called Sadowa) was by far the largest battle fought in Europe during the 19th century. Well over 450,000 men were on the field in an area of less than eight square miles. Within this space the Austrian artillery maintained a rate of fire seldom witnessed before, portending the massed barrage fire of the Great War of 1914-1918. The Austrian cavalry, meanwhile, despite the fearful toll exacted by the Prussian needle gun (named for its needle-shaped firing pin), did indeed prove itself a most disciplined and able force in delaying the advance of the victorious Prussian infantry; but the days of the old fashioned cavalry regiments were clearly numbered when set against rapid rifle fire.
Bronze cross pattée alisée, a laurel wreath between the arms, with ribbed loop for ribbon suspension; the face with a circular central medallion bearing the cipher ‘WR’ for King Wilhelm I, circumscribed ‘PREUSSENS SIEGREICHEM HEERE’ (Prussia’s victorious armies), the Prussian crown on the upper arm of the cross, the left, right and lower arms inscribed ‘GOTT WAR MIT UNS. IHM SEI DIE EHRE’ (God was with us. To Him be the glory); the reverse with a circular central medallion bearing the crowned Prussian royal eagle perched on a cannon, the upper, left, right and lower arms inscribed ‘DER’, MAIN’, ‘ARMEE’, ‘1866’ respectively; on replaced correct ribbon.
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