Army of India Medal, with bar for Maheidpoor, awarded to Lt. J. Lyon, 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 (Third 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. Repeated rebellions against his authority led him to seek help from the British, who used the opportunity to extract considerable territorial concessions. Raiding by Pindari tribesmen which resulted from this became the cause for a new war, and in 1817 British forces set out to arrest Baji Rao. Maratha resistance under Subadar Holkar VI of Indore was effectively defeated at Mahidpur in December 1817, and Baji Rao was eventually captured a few months later. He was exiled on a considerable British pension which he lived to enjoy for 33 more years.
This medal was awarded to Lieutenant J. Lyon of the Brigade Major's Cavalry; its award has been verified. Lester Watson purchased this medal from the London dealer Baldwin in 1928.