Concept

Battle of Lissa (1866)

Summary
The Battle of Lissa (or Battle of Vis) (Bitka kod Visa) took place on 20 July 1866 in the Adriatic Sea near the Dalmatian island of Vis (Lissa) and was a significant victory for an Austrian Empire force over a numerically superior Italian force. It was the first major sea battle between ironclads and one of the last to involve deliberate ramming. The Italian navy fired roughly 1450 shots during the engagement but failed to sink any Austrian ship and lost two ironclads. One of the main reasons for this poor performance was internal rivalry between the Italian fleet commanders: for example, Italian Vice Admiral Albini, with his ships, did not engage the enemy during the battle. The engagement was made up of several small battles: the main battle was between seven Austrian and twelve Italian ironclads and showed the ability of Austrian Admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff to divide his more numerous opponents and then destroy the isolated ironclads. The battle occurred as part of the Third War of Italian Independence in which Italy allied with Prussia in the course of its conflict against Austria. The major Italian objective was to capture Venice and at least part of its surrounds from Austria. The fleets were composed of a mix of unarmoured sailing ships with steam engines, and armoured ironclads also combining sails and steam engines. The Italian fleet of 12 ironclads and 17 unarmoured ships outnumbered the Austrian fleet of 7 and 11 respectively. The Austrians were also severely outmatched in rifled guns (276 to 121) and total weight of metal (53,236 tons to 23,538 tons). A single turret ship took part in the action — the Italian Affondatore. Piedmontese Count Carlo di Persano commanded the Italian fleet, while the Austrian fleet was commanded by Konteradmiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff. The fort on the island of Lissa was under the command of Oberst David Urs de Margina, an ethnic Romanian from Transylvania.
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