The First Anglo-Carib War

The First Anglo-Carib War (1769-1773) was fought between indigenous Carib inhabitants of St. Vincent and British military forces supporting colonial expansion on the island. Caribs were the original population of the eastern Caribbean, who inter-married with black slaves. Led by Chief Joseph Chatover, Black Carib forces successfully defended the windward side of the island against a military survey expedition. In addition, they rebuffed repeated attempts to get them to sell their land to representatives of the British colonial government. Frustrated by the Carib refusals, the British commissioners launched a full-scale military assault in 1772. Its object was to subjugate and deport the Caribs from the island. An assessment of the effort was that it resulted in a stalemate and an unsatisfactory peace agreement.

Instituted in 1773 by the Legislative Assembly of St. Vincent, the Carib War Medal was awarded to British and West Indian forces (militia and volunteers), who participated in the battle by white settlers to seize Carib-owned land during 1772 to 1773. The round, twin-leaf bordered, silver medal measures 52mm [The Internet mentions several dimensions ranging as high as 56mm. I have chosen the size reference based on the Medal Yearbook 2018.]. The obverse reflects the bust of George III in armor and the curved inscription, GEROGIVS III MB REX. The medal was exquisitely chased with elaborate filigree detail, fine leatherwork on the cuirass, and a punched beaded border around the inside of the obverse rim.

The reverse depicts Britannia offering an olive branch to a defeated Carib. The curved inscription reads PEACE AND PROSPERITY TO ST VINCENTS and the Latin date MDCCLXXIII in the exergue. The reverse has been decorated with an extremely well accomplished twin-leaf border design. The details have been strengthened and the fields have been smoothed.

All known specimens are cast and chased, meaning these were cast from a mold, then hand finished with engraving tools. Those awarded during 1773 included a decorative bezel of the type seen here.

Examples in copper and iron, lacking the fancy bezel, are known to exist, but they appear to be either not intended for distribution or after-casts from a later date, or both.

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