Figure 1: Army Cross. Image attributed to Vaclav Mericka, Orden Und Ehrenzeichen, Anton Schroll & Co.

 

Introduction: 

Emperor Franz I founded the Army Cross (Armeekreuz ) in 1814 as a reward for those troops without regard to rank who had participated in the battles against the French and their allies in 1813 and 1814.

Date Issued: October 18, 1814 – 1815

Reason Issued: Founded by Emperor Franz I as a reward for those troops without regard to rank who had participated in the battles of 1813 and 1814 against the French.

Classes or Types: Two

  • Grand Army Cross
  • Army Cross

Interesting Facts:

  • This decoration is named officially the Metal Army Cross but is commonly called either the Cannon Cross or Army Cross
  • The cross was originally proposed in three sizes but only issued in two
  • The large cross was only awarded once to the commander of all allied troops, Field Marshal Karl Philipp, Prince Schwarzenberg. This cross is now in the Army History Museum in the Vienna Arsenal.
  • The crosses were cast from captured French cannon
  • Recipients were allowed to engrave their names, ranks and units on the edge of the medals
  • There were many privately enhanced versions including some which are named or with black enamel and some that were heavily gilded
  • This is the first Austrian award with a war decoration (delineating it from the Civil Honor Cross)

Hallmarks:  The 1813 mark of the Vienna Mint: an imperial eagle in a diamond is found on top of the suspension rings in the official crosses

Design:

  • Grand Army Cross: A lightly pebbled fire gilded Cross formee (pattee) with highly raised edges and a finely engraved laurel wreath between the arms, The cross arms are 20 mm wide. The cross has a wide coined half circle eye on the upper arm through which passes a suspension ring which is decorated with laurel leaves for suspending the ribbon from the eye.
  • Army Cross: A lightly pebbled Cross formee (pattee) with raised edges and a laurel wreath between the arms, The cross has a 3 mm wide coined half circle eye on the upper arm through which passes an 18 to 20 mm grooved ring for suspending the ribbon from the eye. The cross is coated with green lacquer although the lettering and raised edges are un-lacquered and originally were polished to a bright finish.

Figure 2: Grand Army Cross, obverse. Image from the author’s archive.

Obverse:    

  • Grand Army Cross:  A fire gilded cross formee (pattee)  which has a raised    rim and a second fine raised line inside the edge of the cross. The cross has a narrow oval loop suspension on the top arm of the cross. On the upper arm is the word GRATI within a rectangular field, (translation = Gratitude) on the center of the cross is a horizontal inscription PRINCEPS ET PATRIA, (translation = Ruler and Fatherland) which passes from arm to arm on two separate rectangular fields. On the lower arm of the cross is an inscription in two lines: FRANC,/IMP.AUG. (Translation = Franz Emperor on two rectangular fields one above the other. Between the arms of the cross is a gold laurel wreath.

Figure 3: Army Cross, obverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum.

  • Army Cross: A green lacquered cross formee (pattee) which has a raised rim. The cross has a narrow oval loop suspension on the top arm of the cross. On the upper arm is the word GRATI, (translation = Gratitude) on the center of the cross is a horizontal inscription PRINCEPS ET PATRIA, (translation = Ruler and Fatherland) which passes from arm to arm and passes through the center of the cross. On the lower arm of the cross is an inscription in two lines: FRANC,/IMP.AUG. (Translation = Franz Emperor). Between the arms of the cross is a gold laurel wreath.

Figure 4: Grand Army Cross, reverse. Image from the author’s archive.

Reverse: 

  • Grand Army Cross:  A fire gilded cross formee (pattee) which has a raised rim and a second fine raised line inside the edge of the cross. The cross has a narrow oval loop suspension on the top arm of the cross. On the upper arm is the word EUROPAE, (Translation = Europe) on a rectangular field. On the center of the cross is a horizontal inscription LIBERTATAE ASSERTA, (translation = Liberty Assured) which passes from arm to arm on two separate rectangular fields. On the lower arm of the cross is an inscription in two lines: MDCCCXIII/ MDCCCXIV (Translation = 1813/1814) two separate rectangular fields. Between the arms of the cross is a gold laurel wreath.

Figure 4: Army Cross, reverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum.

  • Army Cross: A green lacquered cross formee (pattee) which has a raised rim. The cross has a narrow oval loop suspension on the top arm of the cross. On the upper arm is the word EUROPAE, (Translation = Europe) on the center of the cross is a horizontal inscription LIBERTATAE ASSERTA, (translation = Liberty Assured) which passes from arm to arm and passes through the center of the cross. On the lower arm of the cross is an inscription in two lines: MDCCCXIII/ MDCCCXIV (Translation = 1813/1814). Between the arms of the cross is a gold laurel wreath.

Weight:

  • Grand Army Cross = Unknown
  • Army Cross = 12.1 grams with suspension ring

Size:

  • Grand Army Cross : 45 mm in diameter.
  • Army Cross: 27-27.2 mm in diameter, the width of the arms is 15 mm

Materials:

  • Bronze from captured cannon
  • Fire Gilded bronze for the great cross

Hope you enjoyed this blog. Until next time when I will complete my description of the Army Cross, I hope you find joy in our shared interest

Rick

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