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Army of India Medal, with bars for Assye, Argaum & Gawlighur, awarded to Lt. Edward Osborn, 1851

Army of India Medal, 1851

Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria

Army of India Medal, 1851

Reverse, Victory seated facing left before a palm and war spoils, holding a laurel branch and wreath

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Army of India Medal, 1851 (Second Anglo-Maratha War)

The numerous campaigns of the forces of the British East India Company were not officially recognised with a medal until 1851, in the same move as that which created the Military and Naval General Service Medals for service in the contemporary French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The resulting Army of India medal covered battles from 1799 to 1826, so many of those involved were no longer living. Queen Victoria, by whose order the medal was issued and whose bust it therefore carried, was likewise not on the throne for the actions for which it was awarded.
The Maratha Empire, a Hindu confederacy which began in 1674, had in 1796 fallen into the hands of the Peshwa ruler Baji Rao II. A rebellion by Subadar Holkar VI of Indore in 1802 defeated his forces and the Peshwa forthwith concluded a treaty with the British East India Company, trading territory for protection. Baji Rao's subjects greeted this with outrage and rebellion ensued, which the British moved to suppress for Baji Rao in 1803. Among the rebels were the Bhonsle rulers of Nagpur and Berar, whose forces under Prince Raghoji II were defeated conclusively at Assye despite more than tenfold superiority, and again in a rather less certain battle at Argaon (Argaum as the bar has it). The British force responsible, under Sir Arthur Wellesley, later Duke of Wellington, went on to take the supposedly impregnable fortress of Gawilghur.
This medal was awarded to Lieutenant Edward Osborn of the 2nd Native Infantry. Lester Watson purchased this medal later than most of his collection, from the London dealer Baldwin in 1930.