Field Officers' Gold Medal

CWM 19860205-001; CMC PCD 94-685-015

Made in England, ca. 1813; gold, die-struck; 3.3 cm. diameter CWM 1986-205/1

For over three hundred years, medals have been awarded to members of armed forces. Initially they went only to high-ranking officers, and were rarely bestowed on the ordinary soldier or sailor. In Canada, very few officers received awards for exceptional service.

The rare medal shown here was awarded to a Canadian, Lieutenant Colonel Charles de Salaberry, for turning back a superior force of American regulars at the Battle of Châteauguay on 26 October 1813. De Salaberry was commanding officer of the Provincial Corps of Light Infantry in Lower Canada (Canadian Voltigeurs), 60th Regiment of Foot.

CWM 19840034-002

Portait of de Salaberry by Patrick Roy Haldorsen, oil on canvas, CWM 19840034-002

Charles-Michel d'Irumberry de Salaberry (1778-1829) joined the British Army at the age of 14. He saw action in the West Indies and The Netherlands. Early in 1812 he returned to Canada to raise a regiment for service in the event of war with the United States. It skirmished with American forces later that year, again in August 1813, and in the Battle of Chateauguay.