Ferdinand Joseph (11, June 1828) is the elder brother of the current Austrian Emperor and Archduke of Austria. With the abdication of Emperor Ferdinand l in 1848, Ferdinand Joseph was the first choice as the next due to being of older age then his brother and being more worldly, but Ferdinand refused the throne and it went to his younger brother Eduard l.
Ferdinand Joseph was brought up by his father to deal with the political strifes of the Austrian Empire and to be a buisnessman. His studies often isolated him from others and he often traveled abroad during his teenage years, spending time in the Untied States and England. In 1848, after refusing the position of Emperor, his younger brother, Eduard l became Emperor of Austria and Ferdinand became Archduke of Austria, this was also the year that he put his studies to the test by laying out the groundwork for founding Wolfsegg Private Industries, based in the city of Salzburg as an iron mining company.
Ferdinand enjoyed a close relation to his father from who he learned much from which would led to a good life for him. Other then his father, Ferdinands best relation would be with William Bahest Almark ll, the son of an Austrian buisnessman who Ferdinand met during his years studying at Oxford. At first the two had been rivals in their field of study with Ferdinand excelling at Oxford and William excelling at Cambridge. In 1850, the two returned to Austria and became partners in almost every endeavor each would undertake for the next 34 years.
Ferdinands relationship with his younger brother is often determined on the situation during the time the two are talking. Ferdinand is nothing short of completely loyal to Austira and the crown, but can often be found disagreeing with his brother on certain matters. Ever since the crowning of Eduard, Ferdinand has often referred to his younger brother as "The Little Emperor" as playful joke to his brother being younger.
Throughout 1868, Ferdinand would serve in the military, leading the Austrians in the Sardinia-Piedmont-Austro War and the Ottoman-Austro War, both of which would be won a few months after their start. His peaceful years between 1868 and 1876 would be spent expanding his company and forming the Schwarzen Kappen Regiment. In 1876, he would recieve multiple wounds during an uprising in Prague during which he and his regiment fought almost ot the end as almost 1,500 men gave their lives to defend the city. Following the uprising, Ferdinand would spend time resting as he traveled abroad in France, England, and America, before returning to Austria in 1884.
The Austro-Italian WarEdit
Upon his return to Austria from abroad, the country was wrapped up in a war with Italy over control of the provinces of Lombardy and Venetia. Heavily outnumbereed on the front, Austrian forces were in need of additional leadership and Ferdinand took to the front to once again lead troops under the Imperial Austrian flag.
The Trento-Padova LineEdit
Having been given command of the Austrian lll Korps by Emperor Eduard l, Ferdinand was ordered to have his 35,000 men spread out at key locations along a 25 mile stretch from Mestrino to Chioggia in what became known as the Trento-Padova Line. Ferdinand argued with his supierors about the position of the defensive line, but followed his orders to hold it.
Not long after the line was established and lightly fortified, an Italian force of some 161,000 men advanced on his men along the entire length of the line. Fighting broke out in Padua, Piove di Sacco, Codevigo, and Chioggia during which Austrian troops were outnumbered by at least three to one with the exception of Chioggia where the Austrian garrison was outnumbered five to one.
Fighting in Chioggia ended quickly as the Italian forces threw themselves into the Austrian ranks on the first charge, their greater numbers forcing the Austrians into the city where they were trapped and either killed or captured. Austrians on the outskirts of the city began pulling back to Codevigo, but none made it that far as they ran into Italian troops that were already sieging the Austrian positions at Codevigo. Fighting was heaviest at Piove di Sacco where Ferdinand personally led the defense. After a mere two hours a fighting, the Austrian lines were starting to be overrun and Ferdinand ordered a retreat. Austrian forces along the entire line began pulling back under hails of bullets and artillery fire as Italian troops rushed the now broken lines. Ferdinand and his staff were amoung the last to flee the lines as they held a pickett line with some of the men to try and cover the retreating Austrian forces.
Defense of VeniceEdit
First Battle of VeniceEdit
Austrian forces regrouped in Dolo where Ferdinand took 2,000 volunteers and some of the artillery and made for Venice to begin fortifying it for when the Italians would come while the remainder of the lll Korps moved to regroup with the army at Udine. In Venice the city became frienzied as people tried leaving through the harbor to escape or began boarding up their homes. Ferdinand called up 500 WPI security forces who quickly donned their black uniforms and armed themselves before moving to the cities edge where they began setting up gattling guns at possible landing sites in the city as Austrian soldiers set up the artillery they had brought. Ferdinand put out a call to the city for Austrian citizens willing to help defend the city and recieved over a thousand men and eight small ships. The men were armed with WPI equipment and moved to the cities edge to help prepare.
The attack on Venice came the next day with the first shots being fired shortly after dawn as five Italian navy ships entered the Laguna Veneta and were immeadietely intercepted by three Austrian ships and several WPI service ships. In a plan devised by Ferdinand, Captain Sigmund Kohr, the Captain of the WPI ship, Kk. Hallein, sailed ahead of the Austrian ships on a collision course for the lead Italian. While planned to abandon ship before the collision, fire from the Italian ships killed Captain Kohr, but his ship managed to ram the lead ship in the starboard side shortly before the ships boilers exploded as planned, dealing heavy damage to the lead ship and damage to a second ship just before the Austrian ships opened fire.
As the ships engaged one another, smaller vessels from Lido, Campalto, Mestre, and other shore based towns began moving on Venice. As Italian controlled ships grew closer, Austrian artillery opened fire and guns from docked ships were used to help put up walls of fire. As Italians eventually started landing, most landings being in the Castello and the Cannaregio sections of the city, Austrian soldiers, WPI security, and city volunteers quickly moved to push them from the island. The heaviest fighting took place at the San Pietro di Castello as Italians attempted to take the buildings there to stage an assualt deeper into the city. Ferdinand led the defense here as gattling guns were directed to open fire on boats that made it past the artillery fire.
Italians did manage to land on the island and secure several of the buildings for a few hours, almost taking the church, but they were repulsed as casulties began mounting. Heavy fighting also occured at the Riva degli Schiavoni and the Piazza San Marco where Austrian troops were able to coordinate with WPI forces in the Dorsoduro section to prevent Italains from ever entering the Grand Canal.
Between Austrian troops and Venice citizens, the warehouse district in the Cannaregio, was kept from Italian hands as they lined the building and kept fire on boats that got too close. The fighting for the main harbor was costly, many soldiers and citizens gave their lives to defend it and keep the Italians from moving deeper into the city. After heavy casulties, the Italians called off their attack and fled Venice as the Austrians returned the favor of the Trento-Padova Line and fired off artillery to kill as many of the fleeing Italians as possible.
The battle was won through the determination of the cities defenders, but came at a heavy cost as parts of the outer city were heavily damage, several ships destroyed or heavily damaged, and heavy losses. The Defense of Venice would be the greatest victory up to date in both Ferdinand's military career and the war against Italy. The assualt on Venice had cost the Italians dearly and halted the Italian advance along the coast as Italian command was forced to maintain a defensive line around the city to prevent attack from behind their lines. Argument within the Italian army would occupy the officers for the next few days as they were split on blockading the city or attempting a second attack, but no renewed assualt on the city would be made for another week and Ferdinand would further fortify the city while drawing in fresh volunteers and supplies.
Second Battle of VeniceEdit
When Austrian reinforcements began pushing towards the old Trento-Padova Line, Itlian forces in a desperate attempt to gain a strong defensive position made another assualt on Venice leading to a horrible defeat as well fortified Austrian soldiers and volunteers put up a heavy defence of the city and over several hours lost over 4,000 men attacking the harbor until Austrian and WPI ships pushed to the shore and began bombarding Italian positions, leading to extreme casulties and forcing the Italians to flee inland, leaving land unguarded for the advancing Austrian forces to occupy. The battle led to mounting Italian casulties equaling over 8,300 dead and thousands wounded, almost eight times more then the Austrians defending Venice.
Command of the Southern ArmyEdit
Following the end of the Austro-Italian War and the loss of Venetia and Lombardy to great distress to Ferdinand and his troops, Ferdinand was given command of the Southern Army. Filled with veterans of the Austro-Italian War, Ferdinand and many of the soldiers under his command inferiated at Austrian surrender vowed to never let it happen again. The Southern Army began a harsh series of war exercises that when started, had no plan to be stopped and that they would be continous in order to train an elite force.
The exercises commenced immeadetly with scheduled regimental rotation planned to keep the armies duties fulfilled while ensuring months of training were undertaken for every soldier. Ferdinand intended to use the army to not only defend from external threats, but interior ones as well since the spread of nationalism was rampent in the Empire. Firing exercises were conducted everyday outside the Croatian city of Rijeka in front of the population in order to instill fear in nationlist terrorist who were thinking of starting uprisings while inspiring and comforting loyal citizens.
After an incident, his nephew, Rudolf, would be transferred under him and Ferdinand would place him with the Schwarzen Kappen Regiment. During this down period of simple training of troops and insuring the protection of southern borders, age would begin to catch up with Ferdinand as he began lose sight in his left eye which would be completely lost after an attempt on his life at the start of a series of riots.
The southern riots, mostly focused around Zagreb would stir up trouble both in public and within the government. The riots begining in numerous places across the Empire caused considerable damage to several cities, two of which Ferdinand's forces quickly moved to contend with. At the start of the riots an attempt on Ferdinand's life was attempted in order to slow military reactions, but was unsuccessful, only causing Ferdinand the sight in his left eye as the assassin's knife cut across his face. The assassin would be shot in the right leg by Ferdinand and brutally beaten by the guards before being dragged off and shot for assaulting a member of the Imperial Family.
Forces of the Southern army would then quickly take up positions in Zagreb were the heaviest rioting was taking place and many rioters would be wounded by imperial soldiers after being warned they would be fired upon if they did not disperse. The actions taken by imperial troops would cause public fear and while rioting stopped and order was restored, backlash in the government would be undertaken in the form of the liberals and by outside interferance by the Serbian government which would lead to an increase of tensions between Serbia and the Austrian Empire.
Wolfsegg Private IndustiresEdit
Founded in 1850 by Ferdinand Joseph and William Almark ll, the company started as a small iron mining company, but expanded rapidly. Ferdinand took the position of President of the company and it was his decision to not allow the company to undertake any sort of monopolization since monopolies in other countries became easy targets. Instead, WPI branched out into dozens of professions, securing strong footholds in iron mining, steel manufacturing, arms and mutinitions manufacturing, forestry, and shipping.
While the company also held dozens of even smaller buisnesses, its larger holdings brought in millions and allowed it to expand quickly. By 1870 the company was running supplies as far as Liverpool and Baltimore with its own ships and crews, but up to this point, the protection of the company and its property had been int he hands of the government, a prospect which Ferdinand didn't like as too often, officials could be bribed, or problems in the nation could arise. In 1870, Ferdinand founded the Schwarzen Kappen Regiment to defend the companies property.
The Schwarzen Kappen RegimentEdit
The Schwarzen Kappen Regiment (The Black Caps) were funded completely by WPI with speacial uniforms that differed heavily from the Austrian military and police forces. The uniforms were originally completely black and consisted of a shirt, jacket, gloves, slacks, shoes, and a military visor cap. Depending on weather and enviroment, the regiment was also issued heavy black trench coats to be worn in the cold and a light weight tan trenchcoat for hot temperatures. A leather sash was worn across the chest down from the left shoulder bearing the silver cord of the regiment and the silver insignia of WPI armed forces.
Since the Schwarzen Kappen were privately funded, each member was equipped with several weapons including the M1877 Werndl-Holub rifle with a 1.5 ft long bayonet, the M1870 Gasser revolver (replaced with the Gasser-Kropatschek M1876 in 1876), and a 2.5 foot black and silver WPI sword.
Each member of the regiment had to be medically examined and meet the medical criteria of the regiment. Following this, each member of the regiment underwent extensive training from a series of instructors both native to Austria and foreign. Many of the men who became part of the regiment fought under Ferdinand Joseph in the Sardinia-Piedmont-Austro War and Ottoman-Austro War of 1868 and were already battle hardened.
In 1876, the regiment would serve the most pivital role in the Prague uprising as it 1,500 members under Ferdinand Joseph fought to keep the city under Austrian rule during which all but 20 of its members would die against overwhelming rebel forces. Out of the 20 men left, most were wounded including Ferdinand Joseph and they would be acknowledge as heroes to the loyal citizens of the city who might have perished agaisnt the rebels. The sacrifice of the regiment kept the rebellion from spreading and in turn saved countless lives from a needless war.
With Ferdinand Joseph's abensce for the next eight years as he rested abroad, the regiment would return to WPI service and would be restricted to a mere 500 men by order of the Emperor. The regiment would be reintigrated into the army in 1884 to serve in the Italian-Austro War, but its uniform would be replaced with a standard Austrian uniform with the exception of the black military visor cap. The regiment would also be funded by the government meaning its equipment standards would suffer compared to WPI service standards.
WPI ex-security forces in Venice would be rushed into service as Archduke Ferdinand called on them to help lead the defense of the city. With pride, the 500 men of the disbanded WPI security in Venice donned their old unifomrs and weapons and would be stationed around the city to help defend it.
Following the Austro-Italian War, the Schwarzen Kappen would recieve battle hardned veterans from the war to bolster its ranks including two black soldiers promoted to the rank of Feldwebel (Sergeant) which would be groundbreaking in the Austrian army.
Notable Regimental MembersEdit
Due to the member diversity of the Schwarzen Kappen Regiment it has numerous notable members who are not Austrian by heritige. The regiment has many Austrians, but also Czechs, Croats, Hungarians, Slavs, Irish, Blacks, Italians, Poles, and even a Jew and Turk. Despite the vast diversity it is one of the most well organized and trained regiments in the Empire.
- General der Infanterie Ferdinand Joseph (Austrian)
- Feldmarschalleutnant Franz Graft (Austrian, Dutch)
- Oberst William Almark ll (Austrian [Deceased])
- Oberst Viktor Marcus (Austrian, Bavarian)
- Oberstleutant Alois Menger (Austrian)
- Hauptmann Fritz Wieser (Austrian, Italian)
- Oberleutnant Andor Hargitay (Hungarian)
- Feldwebel Endre Moravec (Czech, Hungarian)
- Zugsfuhrer James Ironside (African, English)
- Zugsfuhrer Carl Kress (African, Austrian)
- Korporal Paddy Galway (Irish)