Center Col: Unset
Col Margin: Unset
Col Status: Unset
Mouse over button or menu: Unset
Home Btn Pos X (Left), Y (bottom): Unset
Mouse X, Y: Unset

Recommend this page to a friend:

On a mobile device? Try our mobile site

Military General Service Medal

High quality official recplica Military General Service Medal for sale
Log In / Register To Buy

View All Medals

Era: 1793 - 1814

The Military General Service Medal (MGSM) was authorized by a General Order dated 1st June, 1847 and issued in 1848.  This was a campaign medal for issue to officers and men of the British Army and sometimes it was referred to as the Peninsular Medal.  It covers military actions from 1793-1814; a period encompassing the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars, and the Anglo-American War of 1812.  For each battle or action a clasp was attached to the ribbon, with twenty-nine bars been awarded in total and fifteen being the most to any one recipient.  The bars are fixed in multiples of three where applicable.  The bars mainly commemorate actions of the Peninsular War, but also include various campaigns across the globe such as the West Indies, Egypt, and Java, United States of America.
It is to be noted that the medal was only awarded to surviving claimants; one had both to have survived until 1847 and then to actively apply for it. A combination of factors, from general illiteracy to limited publicity for the new medal meant that many did not. There are substantially fewer medals issued compared with the number of men who served during this period.
The medal was awarded only to surviving claimants; next of kin could not apply for a medal on behalf of a deceased relative. However, the medal was awarded to next of kin of those claimants who had died between the date of their application and the date of presentation. There were some 25,650 applications in total.
The Military General Service Medal  and its naval counterpart, the Naval General Service Medal, were amongst the first real British campaign medals, the first to be issued to all ranks just for "being there". An earlier Army Gold Medal had been awarded to field officers for their successful commands; they were not eligible to claim identical clasps on the MGSM. To distinguish between the two medals, the MGSM was referred to as the "silver medal".

Materials:  The majority of the British medals and clasps are made of solid silver, though some were issued 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 – 32mm wide, Crimson with wide bark blue corners

Type – Campaign Medal 

Eligibility – British Army.

Awarded for – Campaign service

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

Established – 1 June 1847

Designer – W. Wyon, R.A.

Naming – In impressed serif capital.  This is a common style used on other medals of the issue period such as the 1854 India General Service Medal

Clasps – 29 authorised

Description –Silver medal 36mm diameter, obverse the diademed head of Queen Victoria, with the legend ‘VICTORIA REGINA’ 1848.  Reverse shows Queen Victoria standing on a plinth, crowning the Duke of Wellington with a laurel wreath.  The inscription ‘TO THE BRITISH ARMY’ is around the circumference and the dates ‘1793-1814’ are in exergue.

Clasps are commonly, though not strictly correctly, also referred to as ‘bars’.  They are single-faced metal bars carried on a ribbon attached to the medal, indicating service in a particular campaign or battle.  The clasps carry side flanges to enable them to be attached to the medal and riveted to each other, so that new ones can be attached as earned.  Usually the first earned Clasp is borne nearest to the medal, so that the latest earned should be at the top, though they can be found in the wrong order. 
Twenty Nine Bars Issued.

EGYPT                                             2 March - 2 September 1801
MAIDA                                             4 July 1806
ROLEIA                                           17 August 1808
VIMIERA                                         21 August 1808
SAHAGUN                                      21 December 1808
BENEVENTE                                  29 December 1808
SAHAGUN AND BENEVENTE      awarded to those present at both actions
CORUNNA                                     16 January 1809
MARTINIQUE                                 30 January - 24 February 1809
TALAVERA                                     27-28 July 1809
GUADALOUPE                              January and February 1810
BUSACO                                        27 September 1810
BARROSA                                     5 March 1811
FUENTES D'ONOR                       5 May 1811
ALBUHERA                                   16 May 1811
JAVA                                             10-26 August 1811
CIUDAD RODRIGO                       8-19 January 1812
BADAJOZ                                      17 March - 6 April 1812
SALAMANCA                                22 July 1812
FORT DETROIT                            August 1812
VITTORIA                                      21 June 1813
PYRENEES                                  25 July - 2 August 1813
ST. SEBASTIAN                           17 July - 8 September 1813
CHATEAUGUAY                          26 October 1813
NIVELLE                                      10 November 1813
CHRYSTLER'S FARM                 11 November 1813
NIVE                                             9-13 December 1813
ORTHES                                      27 February 1814
TOULOUSE                                10 April 1814 

Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’
Some of the material on this page was also partially derived from
< >
Which are released under the terms of


One moment...