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Military General Service Medal 1793-1814: CM.1335-2009

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Object information

Current Location: In storage

Maker(s)

Mint: London
Ruler: Victoria (1837-1901)
Artist: Wyon, William
Ruler: Victoria regina (With the title of)

Entities

Categories

Description

It had been unusual, before the reign of Queen Victoria, for medals to be issued recognising service in campaigns (except perhaps those organised by the East India Company). This left, for example, veterans of the Napoleonic Wars with nothing to display for their service, and therefore three medals were instituted in 1847-1848 for campaigns of the previous fifty years, in the East India Company's forces, in the Royal Navy or in the Army, the last of which was the Military General Service Medal, instituted in 1847 and first struck in 1848.
The intentions of the medal committee are hard to divine, as the medal was struck carrying the dates `1793-1814' in the reverse, but the earliest campaign considered was that in Egypt from 1798 to 1801. Earlier battles may have been deleted from consideration due to the shortage of surviving veterans of engagements of the previous century. This was one of the paradoxes shared by all three of the General Service Medals, another being that the monarch whose portrait they bore, Queen Victoria, was not him for whom the recipients had fought.
Although most of the campaigns for which the MGSM was awarded were fought in the Peninsular War, leading to the piece being frequently known as the Peninsular Medal, it was also awarded for conflicts far further afield. In some cases, like this one, it was awarded for participation in both.
The bar for Maida records a British victory over the French forces of General Reynier at Maida in Calabria, Italy, 1806, where British forces had been sent in support of Austria's 1805 campaign that resulted from Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte having declared himself Emperor of Italy. Major-General Sir John Stuart was able to position his forces to fire broadside into the flanks of the French column, which was decimated. Maida Vale in London is named after this battle.
Talavera, by contrast, was a costly British and Spanish victory in 1809 in the Peninsular War, in which General Sir Arthur Wellesley, the later Duke of Wellington (whose portrait is on the MGSM's reverse), defeated the French forces of Maréchal Soult; it was also however the occasion which fractured the fragile cooperation between British and Spanish forces. Wellesley would attempt to fight without Spanish support thereafter until given full command in 1812, although the Spanish guerilla effort was nonetheless instrumental in the eventual Allied victory in the theatre.
This medal was awarded to Private Thomas Boland of the 61st Foot, who it would seem managed to survive both these battles. Lester Watson purchased his medal at some point before 1928.

Notes

History note: Gift of L. Hoyt Watson; ex Lester Watson Collection, bt before 1928

Legal notes

Given by Lester Watson through Cambridge in America, 2009

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 36.2 mm
Weight: 37.11 g

Place(s) associated

  • London

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2009) by Watson, Lester

Dating

1848 - 1850

Materials used in production

Silver

Techniques used in production

Struck

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Bust of Victoria facing left

  • Text: VICTORIA REGINA
  • Location: Obverse
  • Type: Design

Inscription present: Victoria on dais placing wreath on head of kneeling Duke of Wellington

  • Location: Reverse
  • Type: Design

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: CM.1335-2009
Primary reference Number: 141429
Watson Catalogue: 241
Ordering: M-0218
Previous object number: LW.0218
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 15 January 2024 Last processed: Monday 15 January 2024

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Coins and Medals

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Military General Service Medal 1793-1814" Web page available at: https://collection.beta.fitz.ms/id/object/141429 Accessed: 2024-04-16 05:40:24

Citation for Wikipedia

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{{cite web|url=https://collection.beta.fitz.ms/id/object/141429 |title=Military General Service Medal 1793-1814 |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-16 05:40:24|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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