Saturday, May 10, 2014

"Louisbourg Captured" Medal, 1758

"Louisbourg Captured" award medal, Thomas Pingo, 1758, Colonial Williamsburg.

During the French and Indian War, the Americans and British struck a stunning victory against their French adversaries in Canada with the successful Siege of Louisbourg. Through the strategic use of hot shot, and combined land and sea operations, the Royal Navy and the British Army increasingly wore down the French stronghold. In the scene depicted on the medal here, a British cutting out expedition captured one French warship, and burned another, effectively ending any French resistance on the St. Lawrence River. With this action, the defenders had no choice but to surrender, opening the way to Quebec and the end of the war.

To commemorate this event, the medal above was created. As Colonial Williamsburg states:
Dies for a dual-purpose medal were almost immediately prepared by Thomas Pingo, with specimens struck in time to be exhibited at the Royal Society of the Arts in the Strand, London in 1760. As some specimens were fitted with a suspension loop while others weren't, it can be assumed it served as both a military award and a commemorative medal.
This medal marks a significant departure from the norm in that it illustrates not only an accurate scene from the event, but it depicts a common British soldier and sailor, not in allegorical or classical garb, but in the costume worn during the siege.
The tar depicted opposite the British grenadier (the fellow wearing a tall mitre cap) is waving his round hat in victory. He wears a single breasted waistcoat under a jacket with welt pockets. Around his waist is a belt with a pair of pistols, angled butt forward. Trousers ending well above the ankle finish off this very typical sailor's garb.

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