Valley Forge FAQs

The Badge of Military Merit

Q.Do you have any info on the badge of military merit, established in 1782?
jeremy m. tietjens, 24 yrs old. usaf member, raf. lakenheath, uk

A.The Badge of Military Merit was established by Washington on 7 August 1782. It was directed to be "the figure of a heart in purple cloth, or silk, edged with narrow lace or binding." It was meant to be bestowed whenever any singular meritorious action is performed. (It happens to be the forerunner of todays Purple Heart!)

Only three soldiers were given the medal:

On 22 February 1932, General Douglas MacArthur (War Department Chief of Staff at that time), announced the restoration of the Purple Heart by the use of the Army. (It was also the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington!) Today the standards of eligibility have changed from Washington's inception of the medal.

You can read more about it at:

For a picture, and information on other Military Badges of Merit, you can look at the following book: Collector's Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Revolution by George C. Neumann and Frank J. Kravic. [ISBN# 0-9605666-8-6]

SAS, Courtesy The Valley Forge Historical Society

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