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British Army Gold Medal 1808 - 1814

Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum Online Book
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Date added: 31 Mar 2017

The Army Gold Medal
also known as the Peninsular Gold Medal, with an accompanying Gold Cross

This was a British campaign medal awarded in recognition of field and general officers' successful commands in recent campaigns, predominantly the Peninsular War. It was not a general medal, since it was issued only to those whose rank was no less than that of battalion commander.

The medal came in three styles – the Large medal, the Small medal, and the Peninsular Cross – supplemented with clasps identifying the battles involved. The Large medal (2 inches diameter) was restricted to generals, with lower-ranked officers awarded the Small medal. The Cross, in cross pattée style, was awarded to those with four or more actions, identifying each action on the arms of the cross; further actions were marked with clasps.

When the medal was first established, a new one was issued for each action; in 1813 an order was created, instructing that only one medal be worn, and instituting the use of clasps for each successive award. This was a new establishment of the bar tradition which was followed by all later medal awards. Another new development was the naming of the recipient on the rim of the medal. The ribbon was crimson with dark blue edges, a design which would be followed by the Waterloo Medal.

In all, 165 crosses and clasps, 88 Large medals and clasps and 596 small medals and clasps were awarded. The highest award was given to the Duke of Wellington: a Cross with 9 bars for a total of 13 actions.

Following the Peninsular War, rules governing the award of the Order of the Bath were altered, allowing recognition for military commands, and the medal and crosses were discontinued.

In 1847 the Military General Service Medal (MGSM) was authorised, to be retrospectively awarded to all surviving veterans of the campaigns, irrespective of rank. Holders of the gold medals, crosses or additional clasps were not eligible to claim identical clasps on the MGSM (or "silver medal").

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