Iron Medal, sometimes referred to as Iron Medal for Volunteers of the V German Army Corps for Campaign of 1814 (Eiserne Medaille für die Freywilligen des Feldzugs 1814 bey dem (beym) fünften deutschen Armeecorps, or Eiserne Medaille für die Freywilligen des fünften deutschen Armeecorps im Feldzug 1814) was instituted on June 21, 1814 by the Duke Ernst Anton Karl Ludwig von Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld (02.01.1784-29.01.1844), commander of the V Army corps of the Silesian Army. What’s interesting is that on December 15, 1806 Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, along with the other Ernestine duchies, joined the Confederation of the Rhine formed by Napoleon, and the Duke fought on the side of the French. After an armistice between Napoleon and his enemies was concluded at Plesswitz, in Silesia, on June 4, 1813, Ernst left the Confederation and changed sides having entered Austrian military service.
Iron Medal was conferred on volunteers who participated in the siege of Mainz under his command in February-May 1814. Personnel of the following units were eligible for decoration with the Iron Medal: Volunteer battalion of chasseurs and volunteer cavalry squadron of chasseurs of the Grand Duchy of Berg; Volunteer corps of chasseurs of the Duchy of Nassau; Composite volunteer company of chasseurs of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld; company of chasseurs raised from subjects of three principalities – Lippe-Detmold, Schaumburg-Lippe and Waldeck. Decoration was also awarded to Saxons who served with six infantry companies, two hussars squadrons, two dragoons squadrons, two volunteer squadrons of mounted chasseurs, engineer company and six-pounder field gun crew. Totally 1,617 servicemen served with the units mentioned above.
An obverse of the medal showed Gothic inscription in nine lines: “To Volunteers Defenders of the Fatherland of the Fifth Army Corps from your Commander General Duke Ernst von Saalfeld 1814” (“Den Freiwilligen Vaterlands Vertheidigern des Fünften deutschen Armeekorps Von ihrem Kommandierenden General E[rnst]: H[erzog]: zu S[aalfeld]: 1814.”). Thin raised line bar was situated just below the date.
A reverse of the medal had allegorical composition consisting of mirrored seven spears tied with an oak leaf wreath in the middle and four flying ribbon pointy tips. The whole composition was circumscribed “Unity Makes Patriotism Unconquerable” (“Einigkeit macht stark Vaterlandsliebe unüberwindlich”) in Gothic letters. Raised dot was situated at the bottom of a reverse.
Totally 1,708 Iron Medals were struck at the Saalfeld Mint in summer 1815. 130 pieces were presented to officers, and those decorations differed from medals issued to lower ranks and NCOs. Thus, though statute of the Iron Medal stipulated common design of the decoration and no variations were provided, silver rim of awards for officers was made considerably wider than that for their subordinates.
Eiserne Medaille was presented in 1815.
- Ludwig Friedrich Emil von Coburg (26.11.1779-04.12.1827) – Oberstallmeister, Obristlieutenant, Kammerherr, President of the Herzoglichen Landescommission in Sankt Wendel.
- Alexander Graf zu Solms – Obristlieutenant, Kammerherr, Landesregierungsrath.
- Adolf Friedrich Freiherr von Röpert – Kammerherr, Geheimer Conferenzrath.
- Johann Maximilian von Szymborski – Oberster, Kammerherr, Adjutant of reigning duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, head of the Privatbureau.
- August Ernst von Lichtenberg – Kammerjunker, Landwehr Hauptmann.
- Anton Franz Friedrich von Könitz – Kammerjunker, Major à la suite.
- Bernhard Pawel von Rammingen – Kammerherr, Major à la suite.
- Julius Wilhelm Moritz von Wangenheim – Kammerjunker, Forstmeister in Coburg.
- Johann Wilhelm Julius Schüer – Unterstallmeister.
- Ludwig Wilhelm Adolph von Hardenbrock – Oberst, Landjägermeister of the Herzogliche Generalforstadministration in Coburg.
- David Wilhelm Göbel – Secretary of the Herzogliche Generalforstadministration in Coburg.
- Friedrich August Schön – Forstassistent of the Herzogliche Generalforstadministration in Coburg.
- Wilhelm Greiner – Forstingenieur in Sankt Wendel.
- Georg Friedrich Freund – Förster in Neustadt.
- Ernst Friedrich Clauder – Förster in Spechtsbrunn.
- Anton Friedrich – Chancellery inspector in Sankt Wendel.
- Anton Meufel – Court lawyer, office secretary of the Justizamt in Rodach.
- Gotthard Strebel – Assistant of the Berg- und Münzamt in Saalfeld.
- Emmerich Fodor – Keeper of the Hunting castle (Jagdschloss) in Rodach.
- Ludwig Leye – Court chamber musician of the Court choir (Hofcapelle).
- Karl Siegmund Friedrich Koch – Court chamber musician of the Court choir (Hofcapelle).
- Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Müller – Court musician of the Court choir (Hofcapelle).
- Heinrich Friedrich Schneider – Court musician of the Court choir (Hofcapelle).
Staats-Calender mentioned above also included names of 79 volunteer chasseurs who were decorated with the Iron Medal: Barnickel (Neustadt), Bäuker (Saalfeld), Berger (Neustadt), Bohn (Großostheim), Braunschmidt (Neustadt), Buchner (Coburg), Damnitz (Coburg), Dötschel (Gestungshausen), Dohnal (Mähren), Dürrbeck (Coburg), Engel (Mupperg), Entemeyer (Schärding in Baiern), Friedebach (Rossach), Geuter (Coburg), Gruber (Coburg), Halter (Coburg), von Hanstein (Einberg), Hauk (Rossach), Heusinger (Coburg), Hofmann (Neustadt), Hofmann (Reichmannsdorf), Kellermann (Coburg), Kleinlein (Mönchröden), Köhler (Neustadt), Kraus (Nesselfeid in Baiern), Krauseneck (Coburg), Kühnleng aus Gundlachshütte im Sachsen-Meiningischen), Külbel (Gräfenthal), Lairitz (Saalfeld), Müller (Coburg), Müller (Neustadt), Müller (Pösneck), Nietzel (Coburg), Niller aus (Grub am Forst), Pflaum (Wüstenahorn), Popp (Coburg), Reiß (Hassenberg), Rosenthal (Leheften), Schmall (Darmstädtischen), Schmidt (Hessen), Schön (Spechtsbrunn), Schubert (Scherneck), Schultes (Altenburg), Schulz (Rodach), Schwämmlein (Coburg), Sisfarth (Coburg), Stammberger (Hildburgh), Steinlein (Coburg), Strebel (Pösneck), Unger (Schmiedefeld), Voltmann (Coburg), Werner (Hildburgh), Wittig (Coburg), Wöhner (Meeder), Wölfel (Gräfenthal) and Zerr (Coburg).
Circular medal measuring 38,5 mm in diameter and weighing 8,7 g was manufactured of black cast iron and was framed in a silver rim. The later was either 1mm wide for lower ranks and NCOs or 4 mm wide for officers. Non-regulation pieces with gilt surface of both obverse and reverse are known to exist as well.
Eiserne Medaille was worn on the left side of the tunic suspended from a silk ribbon which colours corresponded to those of the Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld coat of arms: wide central vertical black stripe flanked with symmetrically placed yellow, green and black stripes. The ribbon had subtle yellow stripes at edges.