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U.S. Navy West Indies Naval Campaign Medal

(The "Sampson Medal")

By Andrew Lipps

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U.S. Navy West Indies Naval Campaign Medal

Perhaps the most interesting and widely researched medal of the Spanish American War is the USN WEST INDIES NAVAL CAMPAIGN MEDAL (not to be confused with the U.S.N. West Indies Campaign Medal), more widely known by collectors as THE SAMPSON MEDAL. The obverse depicts a bust of Admiral Sampson.  This medal was given in three distinct phase types and individualized by the separate top bars for each ship, engagement clasps for the battles, authorization dates on the reverse, and recipients name and rank on the rim.  The medal shown here is the pattern awarded to members of Colonel Huntington's 1st Marine Battalion for service ashore during the Spanish American War.  The medal has a distinctive 'blank' bar above the broach as these Marines were not part of a ships' detachment and the example shown here has a top bar reading MANZANELLA [Manzanillo]for service in that battle.  The rim is impressed to HARRY F. TRUESDALE. PRVT.  Note that this variation of the medal is refered to as a "chain link" medal as the battle clasp is above the actual medal, most "Sampsons" were produced in either Phase I (without any engagement bars) or in Phase II and III (with the bars attached to the ribbons).  The Sampson medal is far more common than the "Dewey Medal."

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