Lissa, Battle of

Lissa, Battle of
   A naval engagement of the Austro-Prussian War. On July 16, the Italian fleet of 34 warships, including 12 ironclads, was ordered to attack the island of Lissa to prepare for troop landings. The Austrian fleet of 27 warships, including seven ironclads, arrived at Lissa on the morning of July 20. Admiral Wilhelm Tegetthoff formed his fleet into three V-shaped wedges; the charge of the Austrian warships through the Italian line turned the battle into a frantic melee, with ships chasing after one another, all obscured by the smoke from cannon and engines. There was more confusion on the Italian side as the Italian commander, Carlo di Persano, changed flagships at the last moment. His subordinates, unaware of the transfer, kept looking to the wrong ship for signals. Neither side’s guns were effective, but the Austrians rammed several Italian warships. The Italian fleet retreated in chaos after one ironclad sank and a second caught fire and exploded, leaving the Austrians in control of the Adriatic. As a result Italy ’s plan to open up a front on Austria’s Dalmatian coast had to be abandoned.
   See also <>.
    Sondhaus, Lawrence. The Habsburg Empire and the Sea. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1989;
    Wawro, Geoffrey. The Austro-Prissian War: Austria ’ s War with Prussia and Italy in 1866. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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