I recently bought this Wisconsin National Guard Long Service Medal on eBay (my favorite hunting ground for medals and badges.) What makes this medal noteworthy is that the normally blank backside is fully engraved as follows;
“Lieutenant // Harry R. Lee // Sec. Reg. Inf. // W.N.G. // Feb. 17th // 1890” in
six lines. The seller listed the medal as an 1890 Named Wisconsin National Guard Medal and it is easy to understand why. It is named, it is WNG and it is dated 1890. It also has an added bonus in that it lists the man’s unit and rank making this medal very researchable. So do you think this medal was or even could have been issued in 1890?
If you check my book on Wisconsin Military and Civil Medals you would find that this medal could not have been issued before 1903 and that this medal was awarded for 15 years service. Therefore if we take the 1890 date and add 15 years we come up with a 1905 date. It just so happens that I have the Wisconsin Adjutant General’s reports for that year and it confirms that 1st Leut. Lee did get this medal in 1905. In closing I should also mention that I have seen this use of the enlistment or starting dates on other dated long service medals both military and civil.
So there you have it, another little bit of inside knowledge that you won’t get in college.