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Naval General Service Medal, with bar for Gut of Gibraltar 12 Jul 1801, awarded to Pvt. Amos Horton, 1848

Naval General Service Medal, 1848

Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria

Naval General Service Medal, 1848

Reverse, Britannia with a trident seated sideways on a seahorse

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Naval General Service Medal, 1848 (Napoleonic Wars)

Just as in 1848 the extensive land campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars and the other conflicts of the pre-Victorian era were recognised by the issue of the Military General Service Medal, those serving in the Navy at the time were recognised with the Naval General Service Medal. As with the Army equivalent and the East India Company's related award, many of the battles for which the medal was awarded had been fought so long ago that few if any claimants survived.
In addition, bars were awarded for many actions whose significance and size were, despite the heroism displayed by those involved, relatively minor. The result was that many of the bars were issued in tiny numbers, with some combinations all but unique, and the medals command a very high price among collectors because of this rarity and individuality. This in turn, along with the manufacture in most cases of more bars than were eventually issued, has led to the `improvement' of many common awards where recipients' names are shared with those present at `rarer' battles. The medal also shares with the Military General Service and Army of India Medals the oddity that Queen Victoria, whose portrait they bear, was not the ruler under whom the battles for which it was awarded were fought.
The Battle of Algeciras Bay was brought about by a British attempt, under Admiral Sir James Saumarez, to neutralise a French squadron that, having been unable to reach blockaded Cadiz, had taken refuge in well-defended Algeciras. The combined guns of the shore forts and French and Spanish ships in the harbour drove off Saumarez's first assault and cost him a ship, but when the French squadron left port four days later with a Spanish escort, a night attack by the third-rate HMS Superb, undamaged and thus able to outpace the opposition ships, caused the loss of two Spanish first-rates each firing on the other believing her to be the Superb, which had by then made good her escape and went on to capture a French frigate. This was the Battle of the Gut of Gibraltar.
This medal was awarded to Private Amos Horton, of the Royal Marines contingent aboard the 74-gun third-rate frigate HMS Audacious, although that ship did not manage to engage the enemy in the battle for which the bar was awarded. The Medals Roll confirms the issue of this bar to him. Lester Watson purchased the medal at some point before 1928.