|Sir Harry Smith's Medal for Gallantry|
|Awarded by Major General Sir Henry George Wakelyn Smith, Bt GCB|
|Type||Military decoration for bravery|
|Awarded for||Gallantry in action|
|Campaign(s)||8th Cape Frontier War|
In the Colonies and former Boer Republics which became the Union of South Africa in 1910, several unofficial military decorations and medals were instituted and awarded during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Sir Harry Smith's Medal for Gallantry is an unofficial military decoration for bravery, awarded for actions following the siege of Fort Cox in December 1850, at the beginning of the 8th Cape Frontier War. The medal was privately instituted in 1851 by Major General Sir Henry George Wakelyn Smith Bt GCB, at the time the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Cape of Good Hope.   
The Union of South Africa is the historical predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Cape Colony, the Natal Colony, the Transvaal, and the Orange River Colony. It included the territories that were formerly a part of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.
Fort Cox near Middledrift in the Eastern Cape, South Africa was a frontier fort in the Amatola Mountains on a loop of the Keiskamma River.
Lieutenant General Sir Henry George Wakelyn Smith, 1st Baronet GCB, known as Sir Harry Smith, was a notable English soldier and military commander in the British Army of the early 19th century. A veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, he is also particularly remembered for his role in the Battle of Aliwal (India) in 1846, and as the husband of Lady Smith.
Fort Cox was situated inland from King William's Town. During the unrest in the Eastern Cape in December 1850, which led to the outbreak of the 8th Cape Frontier War, the longest, costliest and bloodiest of the frontier wars, Cape of Good Hope Governor Sir Harry Smith travelled to the Fort to meet with prominent Xhosa chiefs. Smith's reputation for humiliating treatment of the various chiefs had already fostered a deep, smouldering anger amongst the Xhosa peoples, even though he still believed that they regarded him as their Inkhosi Inkhulu or Supreme Chief.    
King William's Town is a town in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa along the banks of the Buffalo River. The town is about 60 kilometres North West of the Indian Ocean port of East London. The town is part of the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality in the Eastern Cape.
The Eastern Cape is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Bhisho, but its two largest cities are Port Elizabeth and East London. It was formed in 1994 out of the Xhosa homelands or bantustans of Transkei and Ciskei, together with the eastern portion of the Cape Province. It is the landing place and home of the 1820 Settlers. The central and eastern part of the province is the traditional home of the Xhosa people.
The Cape of Good Hope, also known as the Cape Colony, was a British colony in present-day South Africa, named after the Cape of Good Hope. The British colony was preceded by an earlier Dutch colony of the same name, the Kaap de Goede Hoop, established in 1652 by the Dutch East India Company. The Cape was under Dutch rule from 1652 to 1795 and again from 1803 to 1806. The Dutch lost the colony to Great Britain following the 1795 Battle of Muizenberg, but had it returned following the 1802 Peace of Amiens. It was re-occupied by the UK following the Battle of Blaauwberg in 1806, and British possession affirmed with the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814.
One of the chiefs, Mgolombane Sandile, paramount chief of the Rharhabe clan, refused to attend the meeting outside the fort on 19 December and was therefore declared as deposed and a fugitive by Smith, who ordered the gathering of some 3,000 Ngqika and their chiefs to capture Sandile and his rebels to demonstrate their own loyalty to the Crown and avoid the fate of those who defied it. This was the last straw and Fort Cox then came under siege from warriors of the Xhosa tribes, led by Chief Sandile.   
Mgolombane Sandile (1820–1878) was a Chief of the Ngqika ("Gaikas") and Paramount-Chief of the Rharhabe tribe - a sub-group of the Xhosa nation. A dynamic and charismatic chief, he led the Xhosa armies in several of the Cape-Xhosa Frontier Wars.
Fort Cox was not provisioned to withstand a long siege, had no artillery and could only be supplied with water by hazardous expeditions to and from the Keiskamma River far below. Several attempts to relieve the Fort were unsuccessful and Smith, concerned that his being trapped in Fort Cox would affect the Colony's morale and cause the defection of loyal Xhosa tribes, decided to fight his way out. On 31 December 1850, escorted by about 250 men of the Cape Mounted Riflemen, which consisted of Khoisan and Coloured men under white officers, Smith succeeded to get through the Xhosa lines and safely reached King William's Town, after evading an attempt to stop him at Debe Nek. Fort Cox was finally relieved on 31 January 1851.    
The Keiskamma River is a river in the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa. The river flows into the Indian Ocean in the Keiskamma Estuary, located by Hamburg Nature Reserve, near Hamburg, midway between East London and Port Alfred. The Keiskamma flows first in a southwestern and then in a southeastern direction after meeting its main tributary, the Tyhume River.
Khoisan, or according to the contemporary Khoekhoegowab orthography Khoe-Sān, is a catch-all term for the "non-Bantu" indigenous peoples of Southern Africa, combining the Khoekhoen and the Sān or Sākhoen.
Debe Nek is a town in Amahlathi Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.
Impressed by the showing of the Cape Mounted Riflemen under his command, Smith created Sir Harry Smith's Medal for Gallantry in recognition of their conduct. In later years, when asked who made the best soldiers, Smith put the men of southern France during the Battle of Waterloo in a class of their own, followed by the Cape's Hottentots who had, in his opinion, a truly remarkable natural aptitude for soldiering.   
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in Belgium, part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands at the time. A French army under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by two of the armies of the Seventh Coalition: a British-led allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington, and a Prussian army under the command of Field Marshal Blücher. The battle marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Khoikhoi are the traditionally nomadic pastoralist non-Bantu indigenous population of southwestern Africa. They are grouped with the hunter-gatherer San under the compound term Khoisan.
Although the British government initially disapproved of Sir Harry's institution of the medal, it subsequently paid for it and thereby gave it recognition, but not official status. Sir Harry Smith's Medal for Gallantry is regarded by some as the first South African military medal. As an unofficial British medal for valour, it predates the institution of the Victoria Cross (1856) as well as the oldest British award for gallantry, the Distinguished Conduct Medal (1854).  
The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. It is awarded for gallantry "in the presence of the enemy" to members of the British Armed Forces. It may be awarded posthumously. It was previously awarded to Commonwealth countries, most of which have established their own honours systems and no longer recommend British honours. It may be awarded to a person of any military rank in any service and to civilians under military command although no civilian has received the award since 1879. Since the first awards were presented by Queen Victoria in 1857, two-thirds of all awards have been personally presented by the British monarch. These investitures are usually held at Buckingham Palace.
The Distinguished Conduct Medal, post-nominal letters DCM, was established in 1854 by Queen Victoria as a decoration for gallantry in the field by other ranks of the British Army. It is the oldest British award for gallantry and was a second level military decoration, ranking below the Victoria Cross, until its discontinuation in 1993 when it was replaced by the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. The medal was also awarded to non-commissioned military personnel of other Commonwealth Dominions and Colonies.
The medal is a disk, 34 millimetres in diameter and struck in silver. The plain curved bar suspender is attached to the medal through a hole in the top of a claw mount, which is attached to the medal by a pin through the upper edge of the medal. 
The obverse depicts a lion beneath a crown of laurel leaves, with the year "1851" in the exergue.  
The reverse is plain and is inscribed "PRESENTED BY" around the upper perimeter, "HIS EXCELLENCY", "SIR H.G. SMITH BART C.G.B." and "TO" in three lines in the centre, with open space for private naming, and "FOR GALLANTRY IN THE FIELD" around the bottom perimeter.  
The ribbon is 32 millimetres wide with 7 millimetres wide brownish red bands, separated by an 18 millimetres wide dark blue band. While the ribbon has been described as being that of the British Sutlej Medal, the dimensions and colour of the bands appear to be different.  
Around 31 of the medals were awarded to officers and men of the Cape Mounted Riflemen for gallantry in action. Of these, 23 are known and 20 are known to have been privately engraved in various styles with the names of the recipients.  
The medals known or reputed to have been named are: 
The unnamed medals known or reputed to have been issued are: 
While privately instituted military decorations and medals do not enjoy official status as a result of not having been formally instituted or sanctioned by the fount of honour at the time, and while none of them were therefore allowed to be worn with military uniform, some have become well-known and have acquired recognition in South Africa's military medal history. Four of these decorations and medals are considered to be significant.  
The Nkwe ya Boronse - Bronze Leopard, post-nominal letters NB, is a military decoration for bravery which was instituted in 2003. It is South Africa's third highest military decoration for bravery.
The South Africa Medal (1853) is a campaign medal instituted in 1854, for award to officers and men of the Royal Navy, British Army and locally recruited Cape Mounted Riflemen, who served in the Cape of Good Hope during the Xhosa Wars between 1834 and 1853.
The Xhosa Wars were a series of nine wars or flare-ups between the Xhosa Kingdom and European settlers in what is now the Eastern Cape in South Africa. These events were the longest-running military action in the history of African colonialism.
The Cape of Good Hope General Service Medal is a British campaign medal which was awarded to members of the Cape Colonial Forces who took part in three campaigns in and around the Cape of Good Hope, in Basutoland in 1880–1881, in Transkei in 1880–1881 and in Bechuanaland in 1896–1897.
The Military Merit Medal, post-nominal letters MMM, is a military decoration which was instituted in the Republic of South Africa on 9 October 1974 as the Chief of the Defence Force's Commendation Medal. It could be awarded to all ranks of the South African Defence Force for service of a high order.
The South Africa Medal (1880), often referred to as the Zulu War Medal, is a campaign medal which was instituted in 1880 and awarded by the British Government to members of the British Army, Royal Naval Brigade and Colonial Volunteers who were involved in a series of South African tribal wars in the Cape of Good Hope, Colony of Natal and Transvaal between 1877 and 1879, most notably for the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.
Maqoma (1798–1873) was a Xhosa warrior. Amongst the greatest of Xhosa military commanders, he played a major part in the Sixth and Eighth Xhosa Wars.
The first South African military medal was a campaign medal, the South Africa Medal, instituted in 1854 by Queen Victoria, the Monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, for award to officers and men of the Royal Navy and British Army who served on the Eastern Frontier of the Cape Colony between 1834 and 1853 during the Xhosa Wars.
The Distinguished Gallantry Medal was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana in 1982, for award to all ranks for extraordinary gallantry.
The Distinguished Service Medal, Gold was instituted by the President of the Republic of Venda in 1985, for award to all ranks for exceptionally meritorious service and particular devotion to duty.
The Sandile Decoration, post-nominal letters SD, was instituted by the President of the Republic of Ciskei in 1988, for award to all ranks for meritorious service.
The Sandile Medal was instituted by the President of the Republic of Ciskei in 1988, for award to all ranks for meritorious service.
The Decoration for Merit in Gold, post-nominal letters DMG, was instituted by the President of the Republic of South Africa in April 1996. It was awarded to veteran cadres of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the African National Congress, who had distinguished themselves during the "struggle" by outstanding service and utmost devotion to duty.
In the Colonies and Boer Republics which became the Union of South Africa in 1910, several unofficial military decorations and medals were instituted and awarded during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The Cape Copper Company Medal for the Defence of O'okiep is a private campaign medal which was instituted by the Cape Copper Company Limited in 1902. The medal was awarded to members of the O'okiep Garrison who defended the town while it was besieged by Boer Commandos from 4 April to 4 May 1902, near the end of the Second Boer War.
In the Colonies and Boer Republics which became the Union of South Africa in 1910, several unofficial military decorations and medals were instituted and awarded during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The Kimberley Star is an unofficial private campaign medal which was instituted by the Mayor of Kimberley in 1900. The medal was awarded to all who took part in the defence of the diamond mining town during the four months in 1899 and 1900 while Kimberley was besieged by Boer Republican Forces during the Second Boer War.
In the Colonies and Boer Republics which became the Union of South Africa in 1910, several unofficial military decorations and medals were instituted and awarded during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The Johannesburg Vrijwilliger Corps Medal is an unofficial private campaign medal which was instituted in 1899 by Lieutenant Colonel S.H. van Diggelen, the founder and Commanding Officer of the Johannesburg Vrijwilliger Corps, for award to the officers and men of his unit.
In May 1895, Queen Victoria authorised Colonial governments to adopt various British military medals and to award them to their local permanent military forces. The Cape of Good Hope and Colony of Natal instituted their own territorial versions of the Meritorious Service Medal in terms of this authority. These two medals remained in use in the respective territories until after the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910.
The Eighth Xhosa War was a war between the British Empire and Xhosa as well as Khoikhoi forces, between 1850 and 1853. It was the eighth of nine Xhosa Wars.