Rear Admiral Edward D. Taussig:
Veteran of the Spanish-American War
and World War I
by Seymour “Sy” Brody
Rear Admiral Edward David Taussig was a decorated veteran of the Spanish-American War and World War I. He will also be remembered as the one who claimed Wake Island for the United States and as the Governor of Guam.
He was born on November 24, 1847 in St. Louis, Missouri. During the Civil War, in 1863, he was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated in June 1867 and was commissioned to the rank of Ensign. He was assigned to the gunboat Wateree when a tidal wave pushed her inland to Arica (then a part of Peru) on August 13, 1868. He was decorated for his heroism during the tidal wave incident.
Taussig was on many ships following the tidal wave incident during the 1870s and 1880s. He became the executive officer of the U.S.S. Richmond in 1895. He then was assigned to the U.S.S. Blake as an officer.
Taussig was promoted to the rank of Commander in August 1898 on the U.S.S. Bennington during the Spanish-American War. In December 1898 he was ordered by President William McKinley to go to Wake Island and claim it for the United States. He formally claimed the uninhabited Wake Island on January 17, 1899. Taking Wake Island was a strategic move for the United States because it was midway between Hawaii and the Phillippines.
He then went and recaptured Guam as there was a great deal of disturbance in the territory, on February 1, 1899. He was temporarily the Governor of Guam until he established a council to rule it.
In 1899, he was assigned to duty with the Lighthouse Bureau. In 1892, he was assigned to a school ship, the U.S.S. Enterprise, operating out of the Boston Naval Yard. He attained the rank of Rear Admiral in May 1908. He retired from the Navy in November 1909. When the United States entered World War I, Taussig was recalled to active duty as Commandant of the Naval Unit at Columbia University.
Rear Admiral Edward David Taussig died on January 29, 1921, at Newport, Rhode Island. The destroyer the U.S.S. Taussig (DD-746) of 1944-1974 was named in his honor.
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