Jump to content
Gentleman's Military Interest Club
Jeff Mc William

Military Order of the Dragon

Recommended Posts

Hi. Can somebody "out there" help a confused old man ?

I have often seen this medal listed as a USA decoration, but it looks decidedly Chinese to me and is not listed in either Belden or Kerrigan (the only two books I have on USA OD&Ms). Can anyone tell me when it was issued,how many were issued, and where I can find any other details concerning this medal. I have seen it with at least three UK groups in the past,but have never seen any citations etc concerning it. At a guess I would say it was something to do with the Boxer uprising. Thanks in advance to anyone who can help. Jeff

Edited by Jeff Mc William

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Military Order of the Dragon was founded in the Forbidden City by American officers who had taken part in the fighting in China. Membership was open to US and allied officers and diplomats who had served in Peking and Tientsin during that period.

The medals were struck by Bailey, Banks & Biddle, of Philadelphia, and are arguably the most dramtic design of any of the veterans' organizations of the era.

Medal to British recipients are the most commonly found; those to Americans are much less common. While allied members are listed on the order's rolls, nobody has ever seen a piece to any other nationality.

This looks like the medal to Major Prendergast, Royal Engineers, which is one of the illustrated examples in "American Society Medals: An Identification Guide", by Lee Bishop and J. Robert Elliott.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Military Order of the Dragon was founded in the Forbidden City by American officers who had taken part in the fighting in China. Membership was open to US and allied officers and diplomats who had served in Peking and Tientsin during that period.

The medals were struck by Bailey, Banks & Biddle, of Philadelphia, and are arguably the most dramtic design of any of the veterans' organizations of the era.

Medal to British recipients are the most commonly found; those to Americans are much less common. While allied members are listed on the order's rolls, nobody has ever seen a piece to any other nationality.

This looks like the medal to Major Prendergast, Royal Engineers, which is one of the illustrated examples in "American Society Medals: An Identification Guide", by Lee Bishop and J. Robert Elliott.

Hi Jeff. Many thanks indeed for this interesting information both here and on the "China" thread : You are quite correct this is indeed the medal to Major TJW Prendergast Royal Engineers,...incredible,!! how did you know that from the Obverse?? It is being offered for sale as Lot 338 in the next Spink Sale 23 July 2009 (est ?1,000 to ?2,000) if you want to make a bid ! Thanks again for your time and trouble, I shall now be searching for the book ! regards Jeff

Edited by Jeff Mc William

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeff,

I've seen the piece several times and it's one of the few with intact ribbon and top bar. The way the ribbon folds is distinct to the Prendergast medal.

At one time, Spink carried the book and I think Ray Holdich had a copy or two.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeff,

I've seen the piece several times and it's one of the few with intact ribbon and top bar. The way the ribbon folds is distinct to the Prendergast medal.

At one time, Spink carried the book and I think Ray Holdich had a copy or two.

Hi Jeff. Once again,many thanks for your invaluable help re the medal for the Military Order of the Dragon. But,before I finally let you go on this,I wonder if I might ask for your help once again :

While surfing the Webb for more information on this,the following medal also "popped-up" under the same heading in a USA group to Lt.Gen Adna R. Chaffee,having been sold by Cowan's Auctioneers(Cincinnati) on Nov 7-8 2007 for $28,750.00 :

May I ask if this medal is a variation of the same Order...or something entirely different ?? I must say,it does seem to have some connection,and in fact Gen.Chaffee's group had two such medals each with a different broach setting,in addition to the previous medal which you have already identified. Could you tell me a little more re this one please ? Many thanks in advance. Jeff Mac

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the "Imperial Order of the Dragon", founded for the enlisted men of the China Campaign. Gen Chafee, as commander of US Army forces in China, was invited to join as a mark of esteem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gen Chafee's Imperial Order of the Dragon shows the Type 1 top bar. This piece shows the Type 2 top bar. This one was issued to an Arthur G. Vaughan and is numbered "439" on the reverse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You may also be interested in some background on the Military Order of the Carabao, a similar society founded by US military stationed in the Philippines shortly after the Boxer Rebellion. I'll paraphrase from the History, Organization and Activities handbook of the Carabao.

The story begins in 1900, when the US Army was deployed in the Philippines. Shortly after US troops defeated the Spanish, it became clear that they would not grant imediate independence to the Islands, and the Filipinos under Emiliano Aguinaldo launched the Insurrection, and US troops began a hot, dirty war which lasted until just before World War I.

At roughly the same time, the Chinese government under the Dowager Empress was unable to resist demands for trade and territorial concessions by Western powers, and the secret societies popularly known as Boxers began resistance to the Western encroachments. An international military expedition of 8 nations (Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Russia, Great Britain, Japan and the United States) led by a German Field Marshal defeated the Boxers and lifted the siege of the legations in Peking. (Some of you doubtless know his name, but I don't.)

After the fighting was over, the officers of the international force met at the Temple of the Dragon in Peking and formed the Order of the Dragon. By the winter of 1900-01, most of the US military troops from the China expedition had returned to assignments in the Philippines, where their counterparts, who had remained to fight the Insurrectos under adverse circumstances "...did not take kindly to the tales of glory with which they were regaled by the officers of the now disbanded China Relief Expedition...(especially)... the airs displayed by the members of the Order of the Dragon, with their ornate insignia so proudly worn."

As a result, the 'stay-behind' officers, at a dinner one fall night in 1900 at the Army and Navy Club in Manila, decided to form their own organization, taking as their badge, the "...most lowly, despised, cursed-at and best-loved animal the forces knew - the patient...water buffalo or carabao." This choice was particularly appropriate since the carabao, living in a stifling hot climate has continuous need of cooling liquid, wallowing continuously in the heat of the day. This recognition of the importance of cooling liquids immediately became an essential part of the ethos of the Military Order of the Carabao, and is in clear evidence at the Annual Wallow, held annually in Washington in February.

The Wallow is typically attended by about 1200 members and guests, including the Secretary of Defense, most of the Chiefs of Staff and many other senior government officials. It's a fun, raucous event, with music by the Marine Band and the Carabao Players, who engage in very pointed satire of Defense policy and events of the past year. The new Grand Paramount Carabao is inducted and takes the pledge that he "will not water the whiskey." By then, the Herd is usually "well wetted down." Members have included Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford.

Unlike the Dragons, who disappeared as the China veterans died off, the Carabao remains a strong, highly sought-after organization, including combat veterans of all services from Asian theatres.

Here's my badge. It is worn (usually with miniature medals) on uniform by active duty officers at the Wallow, and also by members in dinner clothes with other medals. The Wallow is also a wonderful place to see exotic foreign (non-US) ODM which have been won by members over the years.

Hugh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And the reverse. This piece was made by Dondero's, an old (now defunct, I think) military tailor in Washington.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×