Instituted on December 12, 1864 by the king of Prussia Wilhelm I to commemorate the Prussian victory in the last battle of the Second Schleswig War (February 01 – October 30, 1864) – the conquering of the Danish island of Alsen by the troops under command of General der Infanterie Karl Eberhard Herwarth von Bittenfeld (04.09.1796-02.09.1884) that took place on June 29, 1864.
Alsen Cross was initially instituted in two versions that differed in the color scheme of ribbons: for combatants and for non-combatants.
Alsen Cross for combatants (Alsen-Kreuz für Combattanten / am Kämpferband) was awarded to the following categories of the military personnel:
- Generals and staff officers who participated in planning and commanding of the battle;
- Officers, NCOs and other ranks who crossed the straight of Alssund and took part in the battle;
- Officers, NCOs and other ranks of artillery units that provided preparatory bombardment of the island straight before a battle.
- Officers, NCOs and other ranks who served as commanding officers and crew members of carrying vessels that transported troops to the island.
Ribbon of an Alsen Cross for combatants was made of 30-
Alsen Cross for non-combatants (Alsen-Kreuz für Nicht-Combattanten / am Nichtkämpferband) was awarded to medical staff, clergymen and other subjects falling within that category who carried out their duties during a battle of Alsen.
Ribbon of an Alsen Cross for non-combatants made of 30-
On the first anniversary of another glorious battle of the Second Schleswig War – Storm of the Duppel fortifications, i.e. on April 18, 1865 Wilhelm I extended Alsen Cross to reserve troops, thus instituting the third version of that award.
Alsen Cross for reserve troops (Alsen-Kreuz am Band für Truppen in Reservestellung / am Band für Reservetruppen) was issued to officers, NCOs and other ranks who contributed to the Prussian victory unless having been part of reserve units at the western bank of the straight of Alssund and thus not participating directly in a battle.
Ribbon of an Alsen Cross for reserve troops was made of 30-
Design of an Alsen Cross was elaborated by a Prussian court medallist Friedrich Wilhelm Kullrich (18.12.1821 – 01.09.1887). All the three crosses shared the same design.
Alsen Cross had a shape of a cross pattée with a circular medallion superimposed on its centre and a round laurel wreath between its arms.
A central medallion on its obverse had a bust of the king Wilhelm I facing left and circumscribed “Wilhelm, the King of Prussia” (“Wilhelm Koenig von Preussen”) in capital letters.
A central medallion on its reverse showed a crowned Prussian eagle gripping a laurel wreath and hovering above a vessel under a Prussian standard that plied Alssund straight. Upper arm of a cross bears an inscription “Alsen”, left arm – “
Alsen Cross was 32x32 mm approximately, weighed about
The fourth and the rarest version of this decoration made its appearance in 1865. Iron Alsen Cross on the House of Hohenzollern ribbon (Alsen-kreuz von Eisen am Bande des Hausordens von Hohenzollern) was awarded to the members of the Royal Prussian Order of St.John (Königlich Preußischer Johanniter Orden) who performed religious rites, provided medical assistance or acted as various officials during the battle. Award criteria sometimes results in a designation of this version as an “Alsen-Kreuz für Johanniter-Ritter, Ärzte, Seelsorger und Beamte”.
Design of an obverse and a reverse of the decoration remained the same but the cross was made of nielloed iron.
As appears from the title of this version a ribbon was that of the House Order of Hohenzollern (Hausorden von Hohenzollern): silk white with two wide vertical black stripes closer to both edges and one central thin stripe.
Only 20 pieces of the Iron Alsen Cross on the House of Hohenzollern ribbon were awarded approximately.
Approximately 12,000 Alsen Crosses were manufactured by the Berlin royal mint.