This medal, issued to commemorate the Mexican campaign of 1862, was established following a decree made on 29 August 1863. The decoration was awarded to all participants in the Mexican operation launched by Napoleon III, who was seeking to create a European-inspired monarchy - ruled by the Austrian prince, Maximilian - as a counter-balance to the growing might of the United States of America.
The medal - which came with a certificate - was issued to 38,000 men who served in the expeditionary corps and the navy.
Made of silver, it is identical to those issued following the campaigns in Italy and China. The draft model for the medal is signed by the sculptor, Désiré-Albert Barre, engraver general at the Paris Mint. There are also other draft models in existence, two of which are signed by E. F. (Farochon) and E. Falot. One unsigned draft also exists. The differences are found in the representation of the emperor and the characters used for the inscriptions.
The phalera features the names of the battles of Cumbre, Cerro, Borrego, San-Lorenzo, Puebla, and Mexico, with an outer inscription marked "Expédition du Mexique 1862-1863".
Bibliography: André Souyris-Rolland, Guide des ordres, décorations et médailles militaires (1814-1963), Paris, 1982.
This image forms part of our close-up on: the Mexican campaign, 1862-1867.