History of the Medal of Honor
The first formal system for rewarding acts of individual gallantry by the nation's fighting warriors was established by General
George Washington on August 7, 1782. Designed to recognize "any singularly meritorious action," the award consisted of a purple
cloth heart. Records show that only three warriors received the ward: Sergeant Elijah Churchill, Sergeant William Brown, and
Sergeant Daniel Bissel Jr. The Badge of Military Merit, as it was called, fell into oblivion until 1932, when General Douglas
MacArthur, then Army Chief of Staff, pressed for its revival. Officially reinstituted on February 22, 1932, the now familiar
Purple Heart was at first an Army award, given to warriors who had been wounded in World War I or who possessed a Meritorious
Service Citation Certificate. In 1943, the order was amended to include warriors of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.
Coverage was eventually extended to include all services and "any civilian national" wounded while serving with the Armed
Forces. Although the Badge of Military Merit fell into disuse after the Revolutionary War, the idea of a decoration for individual
gallantry remained through the early 1800s. In 1847, after the outbreak of the Mexican-American War, a "certificate of merit"
was established for any warrior who distinguished himself in action. No medal went with the honor. After the Mexican-American
War, the award was discontinued, which meant there was no military award with which to recognize the nation's fighting warriors.
Early in the Civil War, a medal for individual valor was proposed to General-in-Chief of the Army Winfield Scott. But Scott
felt medals smacked of European affectation and killed the idea.
The medal found support in the Navy, however, where it was felt recognition of courage in strife was needed. Public Resolution
SR-82, containing a provision for a Navy Medal of Valor, was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on December 21,
1861. The medal was "to be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen, and Marines as shall most distinguish themselves
by their gallantry and other seamanlike qualities during the present war."
Shortly after this, a resolution similar in wording was introduced on behalf of the Army. Signed into law July 12, 1862, the
measure provided for awarding a medal of honor "to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves
by their gallantry in action, and other warrior like qualities, during the present insurrection."
Although it was created for the Civil War, Congress made the a permanent decoration in 1863.
Over 3,400 warriors have received the award for heroic actions in the nation's battles since that time. From: historical accounts
LINK TO BRAVEHORSE WARRIORS VOLUME TWO