The first ''unofficial/official'' Award issued by The American Colonial Army to those Soldiers – during The American Revolutionary War (1776-1783) who ''exhibited unusual Gallantry in the Face of an Enemy'', The Badge of Military Merit is also the second oldest Military Award issued from a Government to it's Soldiers (The first being The Russian Cross of St. George, 1769). The Badge was designed by Colonial General (and later first US President, George Washington) – in 1782. Some American Soldiers were awarded (by their French Allies) a similar Device for ''heroic Actions in Combat'' (but these were discouraged from wear).
Washington was deeply against Awards and such – feeling that they were ''trappings'' of the same Empire that He was fighting against. Many in The American Continental Congress agreed with this. However, extreme Acts of courage needed to be recognized. The original Badge was a Cloth creation, a stylized Heart-shaped image. The cloth was a Purple color, with Silver embroidering placed on it's front (Scrolls). The simple word (also in Silver) ''MERIT'' was placed in the center Field. The Award had a Cuff cloth, which allowed it to be placed on a Shirt or Coat.
The Badge was only given by Washington to (3) Soldiers by the end of The War. While it was never issued or decommissioned by The US Government, the Design would evolve into two other well known Devices – The ''Purple Heart'' Medal (currently issued) and The Wound Chevron (WWI, discontinued). Only (1) known Badge has survived (and is displayed in a New York Historical society Museum).