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Original British Peninsular War Rim Engraved Military General Service Medal With 5 Campaign Clasps - Napoleonic Wars

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Item Description

Original Item: One-Of-A-Kind. The Military General Service Medal (MGSM) was a campaign medal approved in 1847 and issued to officers and men of the British Army in 1848.

The MGSM was approved on 1 June 1847 as a retrospective award for various military actions from 1793–1814; a period encompassing the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars, and the Anglo-American War of 1812. Each battle or campaign covered by the medal was represented by a clasp on the ribbon; twenty-nine were sanctioned and the maximum awarded to one man was fifteen.

The Duke of Richmond, who had fought at Waterloo, was chiefly responsible for the belated institution of the Military General Service Medal for all survivors of the campaigns between 1793 and 1814. He campaigned in Parliament and also enlisted the interest of Queen Victoria, who persuaded a reluctant Duke of Wellington that junior and non-commissioned officers and private soldiers deserved this recognition. Hitherto, only the Waterloo Medal had been awarded to all ranks, while senior officers could receive the Army Gold Medal for service in the Napoleonic Wars.

The MGSM was only awarded to surviving claimants. A combination of factors, including general illiteracy and limited publicity for the new medal, meant that many did not apply for it, with only about 10 percent of those who served receiving the medal. While next of kin could not apply for a medal on behalf of a deceased relative, they did receive the medal in cases where the claimant had died between their application and actual award.

A total of 26,089 medals were awarded.

This medal and its naval counterpart, the Naval General Service Medal, were among the first real British campaign medals, issued to all ranks present at a battle or campaign. The earlier Army Gold Medal had been awarded to field and general officers for their successful commands; they were not eligible to claim clasps for the same battle on the MGSM. To distinguish between the two medals, the MGSM was referred to as the "silver medal".

The medal, designed by William Wyon, is of silver and 1.4 inches (36 mm) in diameter.

Obverse: a left facing effigy of Queen Victoria with the inscription "VICTORIA REGINA" and the date "1848".
Reverse: Queen Victoria standing on a dais, crowning a kneeling Duke of Wellington with a laurel wreath. Above is the inscription "TO THE BRITISH ARMY", with the dates "1793-1814" below.
Naming: The name and regiment of the recipient is impressed on the rim in block Roman capitals. Wm. CRITCHLEY, 9TH FOOT. Unfortunately we have not been able to locate the service information for William Critchley, making this a wonderful research opportunity.

The 1.25 inches (32 mm) wide ribbon is crimson, with dark blue edges, the 'military ribbon' previously used for the Army Gold Medal and Cross and the Waterloo Medal. Unfortunately the ribbon is completely missing from this example.

The following clasps were awarded. Although the medal bears the dates 1793 to 1814, no clasp was authorized for service before 1801, or between 1802 and 1805. A total of 21 clasps relate to the Peninsular War and three to the War of 1812. The medal was never issued without a clasp. The most awarded to a single recipient was 15.

The Clasps Featured On This Medal (Peninsular War)
- NIVE: The Battles of the Nive (9–13 December 1813) were fought towards the end of the Peninsular War. Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington's Anglo-Portuguese and Spanish army defeated Marshal Nicolas Soult's French army on French soil in a series of battles near the city of Bayonne. Unusually, for most of the battle, Wellington remained with the Reserve delegating command to his senior Lieutenant-Generals Rowland Hill and John Hope.

- NIVELLE: The Battle of Nivelle (10 November 1813) took place in front of the river Nivelle near the end of the Peninsular War (1808–1814). After the Allied siege of San Sebastian, Wellington's 80,000 British, Portuguese and Spanish troops (20,000 of the Spaniards were untried in battle) were in hot pursuit of Marshal Soult who had 60,000 men to place in a 20-mile perimeter. After the Light Division, the main British army was ordered to attack and the 3rd Division split Soult's army in two. By two o'clock, Soult was in retreat and the British in a strong offensive position. Soult had lost another battle on French soil and had lost 4,500 men to Wellington's 5,500.

- St. SEBASTIAN: In the siege of San Sebastián (7 July – 8 September 1813), part of the Peninsular War, Allied forces under the command of Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington failed to capture the city in a siege. However in a second siege the Allied forces under Thomas Graham captured the city of San Sebastián in northern Basque Country from its French garrison under Louis Emmanuel Rey. During the final assault, the British and Portuguese troops rampaged through the town and razed it to the ground.

- SALAMANCA: The Battle of Salamanca (in French and Spanish known as the Battle of Arapiles) on 22 July 1812 was a battle in which an Anglo-Portuguese army under the Earl of Wellington defeated Marshal Auguste Marmont's French forces at Arapiles, south of Salamanca, Spain, during the Peninsular War. A Spanish division was also present but took no part in the battle.

The battle involved a succession of flanking maneuvers in oblique order, initiated by the British heavy cavalry brigade and Pakenham's 3rd Division and continued by the cavalry and the 4th, 5th and 6th divisions. These attacks resulted in a rout of the French left wing. Marmont and his deputy commander, General Bonet, received shrapnel wounds in the first few minutes of firing. Confusion amongst the French command may have been decisive in creating an opportunity, which Wellington seized.

General Bertrand Clauzel, third in seniority, assumed command and ordered a counter-attack by the French reserve toward the depleted Allied center. The move proved partly successful but with Wellington having sent his reinforcements to the center, the Anglo-Portuguese forces prevailed.

Allied losses numbered 3,129 British and 2,038 Portuguese dead or wounded. The Spanish troops took no part in the battle as they were positioned to block French escape routes and suffered just six casualties. The French suffered about 13,000 dead, wounded and captured. As a consequence of Wellington's victory, his army was able to advance to and liberate Madrid for two months, before retreating to Portugal. The French were forced to abandon Andalusia permanently while the loss of Madrid irreparably damaged King Joseph's pro-French government.

- BUSACO: The Battle of Buçaco or Bussaco, fought on 27 September 1810 during the Peninsular War in the Portuguese mountain range of Serra do Buçaco, resulted in the defeat of French forces by Lord Wellington's Anglo-Portuguese Army.

Having occupied the heights of Bussaco (a 10-mile (16 km) long ridge located at 40°20'40"N, 8°20'15"W) with 25,000 British and the same number of Portuguese, Wellington was attacked five times successively by 65,000 French under Marshal André Masséna. Masséna was uncertain as to the disposition and strength of the opposing forces because Wellington deployed them on the reverse slope of the ridge, where they could neither be easily seen nor easily softened up with artillery. The actual assaults were delivered by the corps of Marshal Michel Ney and General of Division (Major General) Jean Reynier, but after much fierce fighting they failed to dislodge the allied forces and were driven off after having lost 4,500 men against 1,250 Anglo-Portuguese casualties. However, Wellington was ultimately forced to withdraw to the Lines of Torres Vedras after his positions were outflanked by Masséna's troops.

The medal and clasps are in wonderful condition, tarnished but still highly detailed and legible. The clasps are a little warped and pushed in, but are without damage. If you have an original ribbon, this medal would be complete and immaculate!

Comes more than ready for further research and display.

Royal Norfolk Regiment (9th Regiment of Foot)
The Royal Norfolk Regiment was a line infantry regiment of the British Army until 1959. Its predecessor regiment was raised in 1685 as Henry Cornwall's Regiment of Foot. In 1751, it was numbered like most other British Army regiments and named the 9th Regiment of Foot.

It was formed as the Norfolk Regiment in 1881 under the Childers Reforms of the British Army as the county regiment of Norfolk by merging the 9th (East Norfolk) Regiment of Foot with the local Militia and Rifle Volunteers battalions.

The Norfolk Regiment fought in the Great War on the Western Front and in the Middle East. After the war, the regiment became the Royal Norfolk Regiment on 3 June 1935. The regiment fought with distinction in the Second World War, in action in the Battle of France and Belgium, the Far East, and then in the invasion of, and subsequent operations in, North-west Europe.

In 1959, the Royal Norfolk Regiment was amalgamated with the Suffolk Regiment, to become the 1st East Anglian Regiment (Royal Norfolk and Suffolk); this later amalgamated with the 2nd East Anglian Regiment (Duchess of Gloucester's Own Royal Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire), the 3rd East Anglian Regiment (16th/44th Foot) and the Royal Leicestershire Regiment to form the Royal Anglian Regiment, of which A Company of the 1st Battalion is known as the Royal Norfolks.

Napoleonic Wars
In June 1808, the regiment sailed to Portugal for service in the Peninsular War. It saw action at the Battle of Roliça and the Battle of Vimeiro in August 1808. Following the retreat from Corunna, the regiment buried Sir John Moore (commander of the British forces in the Iberian peninsula) and left Spanish soil. The regiment then took part in the disastrous Walcheren expedition to the Low Countries in summer 1809.

The regiment returned to the Peninsula in March 1810 and fought under Wellington at the Battle of Bussaco, Portugal in September 1810, the Battle of Sabugal in April 1811 and the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro in May 1811. It also saw action at the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo in January 1812, the siege of Badajoz in March 1812 and the Battle of Salamanca in July 1812. It saw further combat at the siege of Burgos in September 1812, the Battle of Vitoria in June 1813 and the siege of San Sebastián in September 1813. The regiment pursued the French Army into France and fought them at the Battle of Nivelle in November 1813 and the Battle of the Nive in December 1813.

The regiment was sent to Canada with most of Wellington's veteran units to prevent the threatened invasion by the United States, and so arrived in Europe too late for the Battle of Waterloo. The 1st Battalion participated in the Army of Occupation in France, whilst the 2nd Battalion was disbanded at the end of 1815.

Peninsular War
The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was the military conflict fought in the Iberian Peninsula by Spain, Portugal, and the United Kingdom against the invading and occupying forces of the First French Empire during the Napoleonic Wars. In Spain, it is considered to overlap with the Spanish War of Independence. The war started when the French and Spanish armies invaded and occupied Portugal in 1807 by transiting through Spain, and it escalated in 1808 after Napoleonic France had occupied Spain, which had been its ally. Napoleon Bonaparte forced the abdications of Ferdinand VII and his father Charles IV and then installed his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish throne and promulgated the Bayonne Constitution. Most Spaniards rejected French rule and fought a bloody war to oust them. The war on the peninsula lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814, and it is regarded as one of the first wars of national liberation and is significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare.

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