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Kriegs-Denkmünze für 1864

Commemorative Medal for the 1864 Military Campaign

Jointly instituted by the king of Prussia Wilhelm I and the emperor of Austria Franz Joseph I on November 10, 1864 to commemorate the victory of the Prussian-Austrian coalition in the Second Schleswig War (February 01 – October 30, 1864) against Denmark. Medals issued in the Austrian Empire carried more detailed name, viz. “Commemorative Medal for the 1864 Military Campaign against Denmark” (Erinnerungs-Medaille an den Feldzug 1864 gegen Dänemark) and design of their obverse differed from those of Prussian ones. This article describes Prussian decoration only.

Commemorative Medal for the 1864 Military Campaign was instituted in two variants – for combatants and for non-combatants.

Commemorative Medal for the 1864 Military Campaign for combatants
(Kriegs-Denkmünze für Combattanten / für Kämpfer)

The medal was issued to military personnel (officers, NCOs and other ranks) of army units that crossed the southern border of Holstein and remained in the enemy territory since the outbreak of war, i.e. February 01, 1864 until the beginning of the preliminary peace negotiations on August 02, 1864. Decorations was also presented to crew members of squadrons who fought Danish navy in the Baltic and the North seas.

An obverse contained two crowned ciphers of Prussian and Austrian monarchs (“W” and “FJ”).

A reverse had a horizontal inscription in capital letters “To our gallant warriors 1864” (“Unsern tapfern Kriegern 1864”) running in four rows and encircled by a laurel wreath tied by a ribbon at its bottom.

An edge of the medal for combatants was inscribed “From Captured Cannon” (“Aus erobertem Geschuetz”) in capital letters. Privately purchased medals had plain edges.

Commemorative Medal for the 1864 Military Campaign for combatants manufactured at the Berlin mint had a diameter of 29,2 mm, weighed 14 g approximately and was made from the bronze smelted from captured Danish bronze cannons most of which were originally stationed at the Fredericia fortress.

Commemorative Medal for the 1864 Military Campaign for non-combatants
(Kriegs-Denkmünze für Nichtcombattanten / für Nichtkämpfer)

This grade was issued to military medics, clergymen and military officials who performed their duties having crossed the southern border of Holstein. Categories of non-combatants eligible for that decoration was broadened on January 24, 1865. Since then Prussian civil officials attached to military staffs were decorated with the medal as well.

An obverse of the medal was similar to the one described above, i.e. contained two crowned ciphers of Prussian and Austrian monarchs (“W” and “FJ”).

A reverse had a date “1864” encircled by a wide oak leaves wreath tied by a ribbon at its bottom.

Unlike a “combat” version of the commemorative medal, award for non-combatants had a plain edge.

Commemorative Medal for the 1864 Military Campaign for non-combatants manufactured at the Berlin mint had a diameter of 29 mm, weighed 10,7 g approximately and was made from the steel. Though finish had to be nielloed, most medals had more decent polished surface.

Some medals privately purchased by veterans long after the war were made of silver.

Ribbon for both variants of the Commemorative Medal for the 1864 Military Campaign was made of black silk with two vertical wide stripes closer to its edges – white and orange.

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Commemorative Medal 1864 1