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Military Medals and Decorations
MILITARY GENERAL SERVICE MEDAL
Item Reference: EM41707
MILITARY GENERAL SERVICE MEDAL, 1793-1814, single clasp, Guadeloupe (John Ward, 70th Foot). A few minor edge bruises in places, small dent to ﾑPﾒ of clasp, otherwise very fine and extremely rare, one of only 9 medals awarded to this regiment. ex J Harris Gibson, 1885; Glendining, 1912; David Spink Collection, 1984. In late January, 1810, the British launched a renewed campaign to finally remove the French presence from the Caribbean. Following the capture of Martinique by the British in February 1809, the British had implemented a very effective naval blockade of Guadeloupe, the last remaining French possession in the region, which had starved the island of food and supplies. This island had been used as a safe-haven for French warships and privateers, which had for some time threatened British trade in the region, as well as a centre for the continuing French slave-trade, which the Royal Navy had been actively persecuting since 1807. On the 30th of January the British invasion force of some 6,700 men (including just 9 of the 70th Surrey Regiment) landed unopposed upon the island, under the command of Lieutenant General Sir George Beckwith. The French forces under General Ernout soon appeared in force upon the British approach to Basse Terre, but the weakened French were flanked by the British and soon forced to retire. Meanwhile, a party of Royal Marines had attacked and seized the now unguarded capital of Basse Terre, spoiling the French retreat. After this effective, combined attack, during which the French received a total of roughly 500-600 casualties, the island quickly surrendered, with the capture complete by the 5th of February, 1810. Some 3.500 French soldiers and their officers were taken as prisoners of war, as well as cannon and an Imperial eagle of 66th Regiment. In all, the British suffered 52 officers and men killed, and 250 wounded. As a consequence of this small campaign, the Atlantic slave trade finally came to an end in the region, and the absence of French vessels in the area allowed for British trade interests in the Caribbean to experience a resurgence in the years to follow. Additionally, this show of force persuaded the Dutch colonies of Sint Marten, St Eustacius and Saba to surrender without a fight soon after.