Heinrich Karl Giesl Freiherr von Gieslingen
Heinrich Giesl von Gieslingen was born at Olmütz (Moravia) as the son of the Platz-Hauptmann (garrison-captain) Johann Baptist and Anna (born von Adlersfeld) on the 7th of August 1821. His education commenced in 1833 with pre-classes at the Theresian Military Academy at Wiener Neustadt. In 1840 he was transferred as an Unterleutnant to the12th Feldjäger-Bataillon where he became the battalion Adjutant in 1843 and was commissioned as a Leutnant on the 16th of April 1844. On the 11th of February 1848 he received accelerated promotion to Oberleutnant and participated remarkably in escorting the court during their escape to Moravia in October of the same year. During the following years of revolution Giesl took part in all the major battles of his battalion. He was wounded during the assault against the cavalry garrison at the Leopoldstadt (Vienna's 2nd district) on the 28th of October 1848. After his convalescence he found his unit in the Hungarian theatre and took part in the fighting near Hodrics on the 22nd of January 1849. During this battle the commander Oberst Collery won his knight's cross of the Military Maria Theresian Order while his adjutant Oberleutnant Giesl later received the Military Merit Cross with war decoration (4th January 1850). On the 1st of March 1849 he was promoted to Capitänleutnant and took over the command of the advance guard of the battalion. At this post he distinguished himself during the battle near Waitzen and received a commendation from his commanding general, Fürst Jablonowski. During the battle of Nagy-Sarló on the 19th of April 1849 he was the acting commander of the whole battalion and again received again a commendation from his commanding general, this time Feldmarschall-Leutnant Wohlgemuth. On the 1st of June 1849 he was promoted to Hauptmann. For his heroic actions during the capture of Raab (28th June) and the battle near Komorn (2nd July), in which he commanded the 1st Jäger-Division within the Brigade of General Benedek, he received the commendation of the Kaiser on the 21st of August 1849. On the 3rd of August 1849 Giesl crossed the River Theiß with his troops, formed a bridgehead at Neu-Szegedin and was able to hold it against superior enemy forces while supporting troops crossed the river and a bridge was constructed. For this outstanding bravery he was honored with the award of the Order of the Iron Crown 3rd class with war decoration on the 8th of December 1849. Finally he took part in the fighting near Szörög (5th August) and Temesvár (9th August).
On the 22nd of November 1849 Heinrich Giesl von Gieslingen married Emilie Christoph (10th April 1822-20th September 1885). They had four children, two sons and two daughters. Their sons, Arthur and Wladimir, also entered military service and both ultimately achieved the rank of General. Following the death of his wife Emilie at Meran on the 20th of December 1885 he remarried in his later years a second time on the 16th of November 1892, Mia Ludovica Karolina Schoen Edle von Liebingen (10th May 1864-17th January 1939)..
After this outstanding performance during wartime, years of excellent service during peacetime followed. During the year 1850 Giesl marched with his troops three times to the districts of Komorn, Gran, Pest, Tolna and Somogy to suppress mutinies and restore law and order. For these "police-missions" he received a commendation from the command of the 3rd corps. The way in which he employed his command and his non violent methods of enforcing civilians to obey his orders appears to have determined his suitability for employment in the newly formed (June 1849) k.k. Gendarmeriecorps. After the mobilization crisis in 1854 he was provisionally attached to the 17th Gendarmerie Regiment in August 1856. On the 1st January 1857 he was permanently transferred to the corps followed by his promotion to Major on the 14th July 1857. In 1858 he was transferred to the 19th Gendarmerie Regiment and a year later to the 7th regiment of this corps. As a Gendarmerie-Major stationed at Fünfkirchen he was responsible for the maintenance of public order in the districts of Zala, Somogy and Baranya during the war of 1859. He received a commendation by the General-Gendarmerie-Inspector and was despatched on some "delicate political missions" to Skalitz and Szenitz in the district of Neutra during 1860 and 1861. For his success he received again the commendation of his commanding general, Graf von Coronini. On the 3rd of September 1863 he was ennobled as "Ritter von" and granted the permission to carry further the predicate "Gieslingen" which was earned by his grandfather, Oberleutnant of the Arciérenleibgarde Johann Nepomuk Giesl, on the 10th of August 1773. His correct name now was Heinrich Karl Giesl Ritter von Gieslingen. On the 22nd of May 1865 he received accelerated promotion to Oberstleutnant and was appointed commander of the Wiener Militär-Polizei-Wach-Korps a precursor of the later Viennese Police Department.
During the war of 1866 Giesl and his corps achieved several successes. They supported the fortifications along the Danube river at Floridsdorf, guarded the so-called Tabor-Joch bridge across the Danube, the large storage facility at the Prater and the telegraph lines to the Leopoldsberg and to Greifenstein. During some periods of the war it seemed very likely that the Prussians would take Vienna and so Giesl supervised and his men escorted the treasures from the National bank to their hideaways. He was able to secure permission in the event that the city should be captured for his corps to remain in Vienna to maintain public order. Only the 93 men of his mounted department should withdraw with the Army Headquarter. However it never came to this and on the 30th of August 1866 he was promoted to Oberst. When this corps was disbanded in 1869 Oberst Giesl received the commendation of the Kaiser which allowed him to wear the bronze Military Merit Medal (Signum Laudis) when it was instituted in 1890 and was transferred to infantry regiment number 72 as deputy commander. On the 27th of October 1870 he assumed command of infantry regiment number 16 but only a year later (8th November 1871) this regiment was amalgamated with the disbanded Warasdiner Grenz-Infanterie-Regiment and Oberst Giesl again lost his command.
On the 26th of December 1871 he was appointed to be k.k. General-Gendarmerie-Inspektor (Inspector General of the k.k. Gendarmerie). On the 25th of April 1874 he received his promotion to Generalmajor and carried on with the reorganization of the Gendarmerie-Korps, especially after the Gendarmerie -Gesetz or law (26th February 1876) was instituted. Now the k.k. Gendarmerie was no longer an integral part of the active army but it became an independent part of the k.k. Landwehr. Besides improving the organization, Generalmajor Giesl Ritter von Gieslingen was constantly trying to improve the equipment of the force and raise the education of his officers. On the 20th of April 1879 he received his advancement to Feldmarschall-Leutnant and was honored by the award of the Order of the Iron Crown 2nd class (with the war-decoration of the 3rd class) on the 25th of April 1883. According to the statutes of this order he was further ennobled to "Freiherr von" with a decree of the 21st of June 1883. On the 13th of March 1884 he was honored with the title of Geheimer Rat (Privy Councillor) and as Oberstinhaber of infantry regiment number 16 on the 25th of April 1887. On the occasion of his 50th year on active duty as an officer he was awarded the Grand cross of the Order of the Iron Crown (with war decoration of the 3rd class) on the 3rd of September 1888. He was not the first or the last officer in the post of General-Gendarmerie-Inspektor but he held this post for such a protracted length of time and influenced the corps so much that he soon was called "father of the Gendarmerie". On the 27th of April 1889 he was promoted to Feldzeugmeister mit Titel und Charakter (brevet rank) which allowed him to wear the distinctions and carry the title of a Feldzeugmeister but he received further the salary of a Feldmarschall-Leutnant. It was a special honor of the Emperor as usually this post was held by a Generalmajor or Feldmarschall-Leutnant. After 22 years of outstanding service in this important post Feldzeugmeister Heinrich Giesl Freiherr von Gieslingen retired in December 1894. With his second wife he settled at Vienna where he died on the 2nd of July 1905 at the age of 84. His funeral was one of the largest ceremonial occasions of the k.k. Gendarmerie during their whole history and he was buried in a splendid family grave at a prominent place within the Viennese Zentralfriedhof just behind the arcades.
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