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Edward D. Taussig

Edward David Taussig
Captain Taussig (probably onboard Massachusetts)
Born (1847-11-20)November 20, 1847
St. Louis, Missouri
Died January 29, 1921(1921-01-29) (aged 73)
Newport, Rhode Island
Place of burial United States Naval Academy Cemetery
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1863–1909, 1918
Rank Rear Admiral
Commands held Bennington
Fifth Naval District
Battles/wars Civil War
Spanish–American War
Philippine–American War
China Relief Expedition
World War I
Relations Vice Admiral Joseph K. Taussig (son); Captain Joseph K. Taussig, Jr. (grandson)

Edward David Taussig (November 20, 1847 – January 29, 1921) was a decorated Rear Admiral in the United States Navy. He is best remembered for being the officer to claim Wake Island after the Spanish–American War, as well as accepting the physical relinquishment of Guam by its indigenous governor following the Treaty of Paris in which Spain ceded Guam to the U.S. following nearly 300 years of colonial rule. Taussig briefly served as Governor of Guam. He was the first of a four-generational family of United States Naval Academy graduates that served from 1863 to 1954 including his son, Vice Admiral Joseph K. Taussig (1877–1947), grandson Captain Joseph K. Taussig, Jr. (1920–1999), and great-grandson, Captain Joseph K. Taussig USMC (1945–).


  • Early sea service 1
  • 1870s–1890s service 2
  • Wake Island, Guam and the Philippine–American War 3
  • The China Relief Expedition (Boxer Rebellion) 4
  • Later Years 5

Early sea service

Taussig was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of a wool broker, Charles and his wife, Anna (Abeles), who had emigrated from Austria in 1840. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy during the Civil War and entered on July 23, 1863. His education over the next four years included service on the Macedonian. Graduating in June 1867 he served on the steam frigate Minnesota from July to December 1867 and thereafter variously on the Wateree, Powhatan, Onward and Resaca from January 1868 to April 1870. He was commissioned an ensign on 18 December 1868. His early sea service was perhaps most remarkable for his time as a passed midshipman on the gunboat Wateree when a tidal wave washed her far inland at Arica (then part of Peru), on 13 August 1868. He was decorated for his actions during this event.

1870s–1890s service

Promoted to Blake (August 1897 – May 1898); and Norfolk Navy Yard (June – July 1898).

Wake Island, Guam and the Philippine–American War

Promoted to the rank of commander on 10 August 1898, his first command was the gunboat USS Bennington (PG-4), which departed San Francisco on 18 September bound for Hawaii, Guam and duty with the Asiatic Squadron, in the aftermath of the 12 August 1898 Spanish–American War armistice. Bennington arrived in Hawaii on 27 September 1898 and spent the next three months operating in local waters and conducting surveys, including Pearl Harbor. In December of that year, Taussig was given orders to proceed to Wake Island and claim it for the United States. After ten days passage from Honolulu, he arrived to formally claim the island on 17 January 1899. At one p.m. a flag staff was placed, and with sailors in dress whites forming two ranks, Taussig called all to witness that the island was not in the possession of any other nation and declared it in possession of the United States. Taussig ordered the American flag raised by Ensign Wettengell and Bennington gave a 21 gun salute when the flag reached the truck. At the time President William McKinley ordering that Wake Island be claimed as a U.S. possession was seen as questionable; however, no other nation had claimed the island and there was no native population. Wake Island was primarily taken for its strategic value as a cable station, midway between Hawaii and the Philippines.

Departing from Wake Island at 5:35 p.m. on 17 January 1899, Bennington arrived at Guam on 23 January 1899. The island previously had been captured on 21 June 1898 by Captain Henry Glass of the Charleston who had left Francisco Portusach Martínez, an American civilian, in charge of the territory. Captain Glass is reported to have told Martinez, the only American on Guam, to "take care of the island until some other officers or man-of-war might reach Guam." Although this has never been confirmed by the U.S. Navy, it was widely believed to be true. Martinez had been deposed in favor of non-American leadership under José Sisto and then Venancio Roberto, each laying competing claims to governance. Venancio Roberto's claim was rebuked in favor of Sisto by Lieutenant Commander Vincendon L. Cottman, commander of the U.S. Navy collier Brutus that had arrived at Guam on New Year’s Day 1899 en route back to the U.S from the Spanish–American War. However Sisto's authority was short-lived.

On February 1, Navy Department in Washington, "Wheeling arrived six days from Guam. Quiet and order there. Most friendly to Americans. Native Government established by Taussig working well. Native soldiers fine body of men. USS Nanshan (AG-3) (United States Naval Transport) in Guam."

Departing Guam in mid-February 1899, Commander Taussig and Bennington continued on to Manila, where the ship arrived on 22 February 1899 with the mission of supporting the Army's campaigns during the Philippine–American War primarily with patrol and escort duty. In August 1899, Taussig was summarily relieved of command of the Bennington and ordered home by Rear Admiral John C. Watson, commander of the Asiatic Station, following Taussig’s dissent from the latter’s views concerning campaign plans that were voiced at a staff conference in Manila. According to press reports, Watson resented Taussig's verbal opposition, and a heated argument between the two ensued. Following his return to San Francisco on the hospital ship, Solace, Commander Taussig requested an investigation.

He was assigned to duty with the Watson returned home on his flagship USS Baltimore (C-3) in April 1900, the same month that Commander Taussig's duty as lighthouse inspector ended.

The China Relief Expedition (Boxer Rebellion)

In the spring of 1900, Chinese xenophobia fueled by increasing foreign political and economic influence, including the expanding presence of foreign missionaries increased until it culminated in the Boxer Rebellion. Some Chinese Imperial troops, supporting the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists (the Boxers) besieged the foreign legations at Peking and at Tientsin. An international relief force from eight nations was sent to relieve the siege. As part of the United States Navy's force assigned to the campaign, the gunboat USS Yorktown (PG-1), sister-ship of the Bennington, was withdrawn from her patrol duties in the northern Philippines to provide assistance to the operations off the coast of North China. Yorktown departed Manila on 3 April 1900, bound for China. Upon reaching the mainland, her landing force served ashore at Taku. In June 1900, Taussig assumed command of Yorktown. That same month, Yorktown assisted Oregon to back off a reef near Taku. In August 1900, with Yorktown stationed off Chefoo, China, Taussig cabled dispatches of the decisive Battle of Beicang (Peitsang) from which the Chinese military forces never recovered. The gunboat departed Shanghai on 10 September 1900 and reached Cavite on the 17th. In the Philippines, Yorktown resumed her cooperation with Army forces, engaged in pacification efforts and continued these duties over the next two years. Commander Taussig was detached from Yorktown in June 1901 and was ordered home to await orders (June – October 1901).

Later Years

Thereafter, Taussig's assignments were to the Washington Navy Yard (November 1901 – January 1902); ordinance office, Boston Navy Yard (January – May 1902); and commander, training ship,

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