Honorary award for impeccable long service with the Hamburg standing military contingent was introduced by the city authorities on June 06, 1839. Its Statute was instituted on September 25 of the same year at the meeting of the City Senate and gazetted the next day in the 288 issue of the local “Independent Hamburg Reporter” newspaper (Hamburgische unpartheyische Correspondent).
To begin with, the brief concept of Hamburg long service awards should be described here. Soldiers, sappers and drummers (Spielleute) of the so-called elite class who have served 10 years with the Hamburg contingent were issued with chevrons made of wool cloth to be worn in the upper part of the left sleeve. Infantry and Jäger units personnel wore red chevrons, while cavalrymen white ones. The second similar chevron was awarded after 15 years of military service. NCOs up to Feldwebel inclusive as well as military musicians in similar ranks (Musici) were issued with chevrons made of golden and silver braid for 10 and 15 years of military service (exactly in that order as stipulated in the Statute, although logic dictates vice versa).
All the servicemen who were issued with two chevrons after 15 years of military service had their monthly money allowances increased by 1 Mark, while those who have served 20 years enjoyed increase worth 1 Mark and 8 Shillings.
Military Long Service Award for Standing Army of Hamburg representing silver cross described below was presented to lower ranks, NCOs and officers with 20 years of military service. Officers (but not lower ranks and NCOs) were eligible for decoration with the gold cross instead of the silver one after 25 years of military service.
When promoted to officer rank NCO had to remove his chevrons and continue wearing silver cross that had to be replaced with the gold one upon completion of 25 years of military service.
System of army service counting as stipulated by the City Senate of Hamburg worth to be mentioned here.
Calendar time was applied for active military service in the Hamburg garrison in peacetime, i.e. within 1810-1813 and after 1815. Participation in military campaigns of 1813, 1814 and 1815 in the ranks of the Hanseatic Corps was calculated on preferential basis, i.e. one month of service was counted as two. Same rule would be applied to Hamburg contingent personnel in combat operations to be.
Uninterrupted military service with the Hamburg contingent was a compulsory condition for decoration with the Militär-Dienst-Auszeichnung für das hamburgische reguläre Militär. However some Napoleonic Wars veterans discharged from the army trying to return to civilian life. Those who failed had no choice but to enlist again, and their military service during the war was counted as double.
Retired lower ranks, NCOs and officers were granted permission to wear silver and gold crosses presented to them during their active military service. After the death of the holder or in case he was deprived of the right to wear it, decoration had to be returned to the commandant’s office. It was subsequently awarded to another serviceman who qualified for decoration. Discharge from the Corps for disciplinary case resulted in cancellation of decoration with the Militär-Dienst-Auszeichnung für das hamburgische reguläre Militär.
Decoration had a shape of an equilateral eight-pointed Maltese cross (referred to as “Hanseatic” in the Statute) with wide serrated brims close to edges. Circular medallion superimposed on both sides of the cross bore Roman numerals on its obverse, “XX” for the silver cross and “XXV” for the gold cross. Apart from those numerals and metal decorations were minted of, both classes of the award were in fact identical. Lesser coat of arms of Hamburg, i.e. city wall with closed gate and three towers was placed on reverse of the medallion.
Militär-Dienst-Auszeichnung für das hamburgische reguläre Militär was worn on the left side of the breast suspended from amaranth ribbon with wide white stripes at edges. Article V of its Statute stipulated that “neither silver nor gold cross is allowed to be worn as a buttonhole ribbon without decoration itself”.
The very first awards were presented on October 27, 1839 by the head of the Military department during the big parade that was chaired by Johann Heinrich Bartels (20.05.1761-01.02.1850), the Hamburg burgomaster.
“Geschichte und Verfassung aller geistlichen und weltlichen, erloschenen und blühenden Ritterorden. Nebst einer Übersicht sämmtlicher Militär- und Civil-Ehrenzeichen, Medaillen &.&. und einem Atlas mit beinahe 500 illuminirten Abbildungen der Ordensinsignien, Bänder und Ketten. Von Ferdinand Freiherrn von Biedenfeld. Zugleich als Fortsetzung von dessen Geschichte der Mönchs- und Klosterfrauen-Orden im Orient und Occident. Zweiter Band. Blühende Orden”. Weimar, 1841. Verlag, Druck und Lithographie von Bernhard Friedrich Voigt.