Edmund Graf Wickenburg

Edmund Graf Wickenburg was born on the 6th of February 1831 at Krems. The noble family Wickenburg had held the title of Reichsgraf since 1790, were divided into three lines. The prime line of which Edmund belonged to owned large estates in Austria, Hungary and the Prussian province of Hanover. Similar to his older brothers, Eduard Cavello (born 1819) and Otto (born 1821), Edmund entered a military career in the Austrian cavalry and became an Unterleutnant in dragoon regiment number 4 in the autumn of 1850. With this regiment he received his promotions to Oberleutnant in May 1852 and to Rittmeister 2nd class in May 1856. On the 4th of August 1858 he married Stephanie von Horváth de Szalabér with whom he had four children, Stephan (born 16th June 1859), Margaretha (born 23rd June 1860), Marco Maria Matthias Constantin (born 13th April 1864) and Maria Charlotte Maximiliane (born 3rd February 1866). As with all young cavalry officers Edmund Graf Wickenburg desired nothing more than to distinguish himself in combat in the field. When the war started in 1859 it was soon obvious that his regiment would not come into action so he volunteered without hesitation for duty with one of the two volunteer hussar regiments which were raised in Hungary in 1859. He was assigned as a Rittmeister 1st class with the seniority of the 1st of January 1857 to the 1st Volunteer "Jazygier und Kumanier" hussar regiment which was later transformed into the regular hussar regiment number 13. But luck was not on his side, a riding accident precluded his coming into any action. Disappointed he retired as a temporary invalid on the 1st of September 1860 to his estates in Hungary. Leading the quiet life of the landed gentry devoting himself to wife and children was far too boring for him. When the recruitment for Mexico started he immediately volunteered for and was finally accepted, which was a unique occurrence as only only unmarried men or childless widowers were allowed to enlist, as a Rittmeister 1st class with the hussars of the Volunteer Corps.

On the 6th of December 1864 the "Peruvian", the 3rd of a total of five chartered ships, left Trieste. Embarked were the whole ulan regiment commanded by Major Bertrand, a squadron of the hussars commanded by Rittmeister Graf Wickenburg and a company of the light infantry (Jäger) commanded by Hauptmann Krickl. One of the major problems the whole land suffered was the large number of more criminal than political motivated gangs all over the countryside, any travel outside the cities was only possible with strong escort of troops otherwise one could be sure to fall into the hands of robbers. On the direct order of Emperor Maximilian, Edmund Graf Wickenburg left the Volunteer Corps becoming a Major of the Mexican Gendarmerie to reorganize it according to the regulations of the Austrian Gendarmerie. In May 1865 his wife and children arrived in Mexico which was normally considered dangerous and crazy. Graf Khevenhüller wrote in his diary: "What a decision for a woman with her children! Such a long journey to lead a Mexican officer's life!". Stephanie Gräfin Wickenburg was further engaged as a lady-in-waiting at the plain household of Empress Charlotte. In February 1866 her last daughter was born in Mexico receiving the names of the beloved high couple - Maria Charlotte Maximiliane! After his organizational work was completed with the Gendarmerie Edmund Graf Wickenburg was transferred back to the Volunteer Corps in November 1865 as a Major with the seniority of the 29th of November 1865 being honored with the award of the officer's cross of the Order of our beloved Madonna of Guadalupe. As a squadron commander of the hussars he took part in several minor engagements, receiving the promotion to Oberstleutnant in November 1866. After the disbanding of all foreign volunteer corps in December 1866 he took over the command of the Gendarmerie regiment of the National Mexican Army the "Gendarmeria Ymperial" in the rank of Colonel.

Over the years about 200 Austrians had voluntarily enlisted in the Mexican Gendarmerie signing a contract for 6 further years of duty and 80 of these men wanted to leave Mexico too when the French Army and most of the European volunteers left the country. When the Austrian Ambassador Eduard Baron Lago organized the return journey to Europe for the disbanded Volunteers these men were not part of the contract because they were not part of the Volunteer Corps at the time of its disbandment Graf Wickenburg tried everything he could to persuade Baron Lago to pay for these men too and was finally successful. But all this took its time and when these 80 men left Mexico City for Vera Cruz all the other troops were just there - without guard and without any weapons for self-protection and it was no wonder that they were first deprived and than captured by the Republicans! But the battles carried on. For his excellent performance during the hard battles between the 6th and 12th of April 1867 during the general retreat from Puebla to Mexico City Graf Wickenburg was honored with the award of the officer's cross of the Order of the Eagle. Similar to Graf Khevenhüller and Freiherr von Hammerstein, Graf Wickenburg was also left at Mexico City while the Emperor traveled to his fate.

Edmund Graf Wickenburg and his family traveled back to Europe, all their dreams had been broken, from the whole Mexican Adventure only huge debts were left. According to regulations he again rejoined the Austrian army as a Rittmeister 1st class on temporary retirement on the 25th of September 1867. The disappointed family settled down in Vienna, money was disquietingly short and all friends and relatives were full of reproaches. On the 1st of April 1868 Graf Wickenburg secured his re-employment on full pay with hussar regiment number 13 at Brzezan in Galicia. On the 28th of October 1868 he was transferred to hussar regiment number 1 with additional promotion to Major with the seniority of the 10th of December 1868 at Tarnow. But Graf Wickenburg never ceased suffering from his disappointments in life, from a career as a Colonel and commander of the whole Mexican Gendarmerie and now a little Major drilling half-analphabetic hussars in the far Eastern province with a payment so low that his wife and the 4 children only could live because of the annual extra money from his family! Edmund Graf Wickenburg could not further stand his poor, wrecked, degrading life. On the 12th of March 1871, three weeks after his 40th birthday, he took his service revolver and committed suicide at Wadowice in Galicia.

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