Ohio History Journal

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In 1925, the Exeter Society of the Cincinnati in the State of

New Hampshire published a small book entitled The Order of

Military Merit, the Honor Badge of the Continental Army.

In this book is given all that is known about the oldest

decoration for valor in existence except the Cross of St. George

of Russia. This brief sketch was compiled with great difficulty

as the Book of Merit provided for in General Washington's

Order has unfortunately been lost.

When this book came into the writer's possession, realizing

that this most important event in Colonial history had been over-

looked and being a great-granddaughter of Sergeant William

Brown, one of the recipients of this badge, she decided to give it

more publicity. As the book was copyrighted it was necessary

to get permission from the Order of the Cincinnati to make use

of the material contained. Mr. Horace Morrison, Secretary of

the Society of the Cincinnati in Exeter, granted the permission and

the ensuing article was written.

Since ex-President Herbert Hoover, in 1932, had revived

interest in the Purple Heart Decoration, she felt that the public

might be interested to read the early history. The old decoration

appeared in modern garb. In 1783, when the original was be-

stowed upon the soldiers there was no money for ornate jewelry.

A heart shaped of purple silk bound by a narrow silver galoon was

fastened upon the uniform over the heart by Washington's own

hand. The recipient felt repaid for all he had risked.

With grateful acknowledgments to the National Society of

the D. A. R. and to John C. Fitzpatrick, A. M., Chief of Manu-

*Editor's Note: In the light of recent awards of the Purple Heart for valor

in service, this story of its original use as a decoration in George Washington's day

should be of interest to the readers of this Quarterly. At the time of the George

Washington Bicentennial Celebration. "The Story of the Order of the Purple Heart,"

by John C. Fitzpatrick, was published by the Bicentennial Commission in its History

of the George Washington Bicentennial Celebration (Washington, 1932), III, 705-15.