Army Gold Medal and Cross

Era: Peninsular War

Established in 1810 this magnificent award known as the Army Gold Medal (1806-1814), also known by the name of the ‘Peninsular Gold Medal’.  It came with the accompanying Gold Cross and was a British campaign medal, awarded for recognition of field and general officers successful commands in any recent campaigns, mainly in the Peninsular War.  Although it was not a general medal, since it was issued to the rank of those no less than that of Battalion Commander.

Coming in three styles these being, the large medal, the small medal, and the Peninsular Cross, with Bars / Clasps to identify the battles involved.

The Large medal was only given to Generals, with the lower ranks of officers awarded the small medal for services in the Peninsular Wars.

In cross pattée style medal was awarded to those with four or more actions, identifying each action on the arms of the cross medal in which the recipient served, further actions would be marked with clasps.  The maximum number of clasps one Cross is nine, commemorating thirteen actions in all, the Duke of Wellington was awarded this being the highest award.  The design of this cross is similar to the later gallantry medal the Victoria Cross and is considered to have been an inspiration for it.

Due to a new medal being issued for each action, in 1813 an order was created instructing that only one medal should be worn, and any the use of the clasps for each successive award.  This new method of using bars/clasps was the establishment of the tradition that was followed by all later medal awards.

Following the end of the British involvement in the Peninsular War, in 1847 the Military General Service Medal (MGSM) was authorized and awarded to all surviving campaign veterans, irrespective of rank.  Any recipients of the Gold medals, crosses or additional clasps were not eligible to claim identical clasp on the MGSM.


Materials:      The majority of the British medals and clasps are made of solid silver, though some were issue in bronze versions, mainly to Indian non-combatants.  The majority of the British campaign awards are circular, usually 36mm in diameter.

Ribbons:         Medals are worn suspended from their own specific ribbons. These were first made of silk but cotton was increasingly used as the nineteenth century developed.  Their own colours often have a symbolic significance: the equal stripes of the ‘1939 to 1945 Star,’ for example, are dark blue to represent the service of the Royal and Merchant Navies, red, to represent that of the Armies and light blue to represent that of Air Forces.

Ribbon width can vary slightly though it is generally 32mm wide

Ribbon – 1.25 inches (32 mm) wide, and consists of three stripes: dark blue, Crimson red and dark blue.

Army Gold Medal and Cross ribbon
Army Gold Medal and Cross ribbon

Type – Campaign Medal

Eligibility – British Army and General Officers

Awarded for – Campaign commands (conspicuous service)

Campaign – French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1793–1814, Anglo-American War of 1812

Established – 1810

Total Awarded – 165 crosses and clasps, 88 large medals with clasps and 596 small medals.

Clasps – 28 authorised, laurel wreaths with battle name.


Description – The obverse of the medal is Britannia with shield, laurel wreath and palm branch.

The reverse name of first battle awarded, with laurel wreath.

The Cross Medal: cross pattée with proud lion, battle names on arms.


MAIDA:                                 Battle of Madia, 4th July, 1806.

ROLEIA:                               Battle of Roleia, 17th August, 1808.

VIMEIRO:                             Battle of Vimeiro, 21st August, 1808.

SAHAGUN:                           Battle of Sahagun, 21st December, 1808.

BENEVENTE:                       Battle of Benevente, 29th December, 1808.


CORUNNA:                          Battle of Corunna, 16th January, 1809.

MATINIQUE:                        Invasion of Martinique, 30th January, 1809.

TALAVERA:                         Battle of Talavera, 27th July, 1809.

GUADELOUPE:                   Invasion of Guadeloupe, 28th January, 1810.

BUSSACO:                         Battle of Bussaco, 27th September, 1810.

BARROSA:                         Battle of Barrosa, 5th March, 1811.

FUENTES D’ONOR:            Battle of Fuentes de Onoro, 3rd May, 1811.

ALBUERA:                         Battle of Albuera, 16th May, 1811.

JAVA:                                Invasion of Java, August, 1811.


BADAJOZ:                         16th March, 1812.

SALAMANCA:                   Battle of Salamanca, 22nd July, 1812.


CHATEAUGUAY:               Battle of Chateauguay, 26th October, 1813.

CRYSLER’S FARM:          Battle of Crysler’s Field, 11th November, 1813.

VITORIA:                         Battle of Vitoria, 21st June, 1813.

PYRENEES:                     Battle of the Pyrenees, 25th July, 1813.

ST SEBASTIAN:              7th July, 1813.

NIVELLE:                        Battle of Nivelle, 10th November, 1813.

NIVE:                              Battle of Nive, 9th December, 1813.

ORTHEZ:                         Battle of Orthez, 27th February, 1814.

TOULOUSE:                    Battle of Toulouse, 1814.


This guide will help you through all the parts and descriptions of military medals


Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’

Some of the material on this page was also partially derived from

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