Punjab Campaign Medal
7th September 1848 to 14th March 1949
This campaign was virtually a continuation of the Sutlej War which had left the militant Sikhs in a state of unrest. The Punjab flared into rebellion in 1848 and the British fielded two armies; one 28,000 strong under Major General Whish besieged the stronghold of Mooltan whilst the second, under Lord Gough, turned northwards towards the Punjab. On 13th January Gough reached Chilianwala where a Sikh army under Sher Singh was entrenched. In the savage battle that followed, where both sides slaughtered the enemy wounded, the British lost several colours, four guns and over 15 per cent of heir effective strength. Heaviest casualties were suffered by the South Wales Borderers who lost 21 officers and 503 other ranks killed or wounded. Both sides withdrew to their respective camps where they were bogged down by three days of torrential rain. However, on 22nd January, Mooltan had been stormed and Whish's troops moved northward to support Gough. Shere Singh struck his camp and moved eastward making for Lahore but on 20th February the combined British forces, totalling 24,000 men and 96 guns caught up with the Sikhs at Goojerat. The battle started at 7am and by early afternoon the enemy were in full retreat, abandoning their guns, wounded and baggage.
A General Order dated 2nd April 1849 granted a medal to all forces employed in the Punjab during the campaign. The reverse of this medal is extremely detailed and shows he Sikh army surrendering their arms and colours in front of a mounted officer. Two regiments of East India troops, complete with colours, are drawn up in he middle distance, whilst in he background there are large palm trees on a hill. Around the top is the legend TO THE ARMY OF THE PUNJAB, and in the exergue the date in Roman numerals MDCCCXLIX. The obverse carries the diademed head of Queen Victoria and the ribbon is dark blue with a yellow stripe on each side, threaded through an ornamental swivelling suspender. Three clasps were issued for the main actions - MOOLTAN, for those engaged in he siege from 7th September 1848 until 22 January 1849 and CHILIANWALA and GOOJERAT for the two main battles. The maximum number of clasps to any one man was two, although there are numerous medals without clasps awarded to troops who did not participate in any of the three main actions. Naming is in impressed Roman capitals.
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