Robert E. Wyllie.

Orders, decorations and insignia, military and civil; with the history and romance of their origin and a full description of each online

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with the class, ribbon of the width of the lowest class is
always used. Some countries distinguish between the
classes by rosettes, etc., placed on the service ribbon,
others make no distinction.

It is obvious that a man who is in the first class of more
than one order cannot possibly wear two broad ribbons


Clafiffifification anb i^omenclature

at the same time, in this case most countries provide that
he wear the broad ribbon and badge of the senior order
only, unless for that particular ceremony the other would
be more appropriate. In any event he wears the stars
of both.

A nearly similar condition prevails when he has two or
more which are required to be worn at the neck. In
Russia the senior in this case is worn as usual, with the
others below in order of precedence, the ribbons coming
out between the buttons of the uniform all the way down
the front if necessary. In the British service only the
senior is worn at the neck, the others being placed on
the left breast if worn at all, but here again all stars are
worn. In most countries there is no definite rule in this
matter, in France for example while customary to follow
the Russian precedent it is not always done.

In the United States these troubles cannot arise with
American decorations, as we have only one which is worn
at the neck, the Medal of Honor, consequently our regu-
lations are silent on the subject, however now that so
many have received foreign orders it has become a live
issue. Inasmuch as there is no regulation we are placed
in the same condition as France, where each one judges
for himself, so either the Russian or the British rule
can be followed, as the individual prefers, but care
should be taken not to wear one foreign decoration
at the neck and another one of the same class from
a different country on the breast, as that would be
a discrimination between orders of different foreign coun-
tries which should be carefully avoided. Either follow


©rlrers;, JBecotationsf, anb 3ns;ignia

the Russian plan of wearing them all in order of date of
receipt, or if only one is worn at the neck omit the others
entirely. But of course all stars can be worn.

Another important point as to foreign decorations.
An American who has received one should always wear it
when attending any official meeting or function in the
country whose government awarded it to him, or when
meeting any important functionary of that country in an
official way, and on such occasions it should be given the
place of honour, being put ahead of all American decora-
tions and medals. This is an act of courtesy to the foreign
country which we cannot afford to neglect.



The Medal of Honor

IN nearly all the countries which are included under
the expression "great powers" decorations for dis-
tinguished service rendered to the State take
precedence over those awarded for acts of valour, on
the theory that the services of statesmen, generals, and
other public ijien high in the councils of the nation are
of more importance, and therefore deserve higher rewards,
than do individual acts of gallantry on the battle field.
The exceptions to this rule are England and the United
States, in both of which countries the primary valour
decoration takes precedence over all others, and it is
worthy of note that the standards set for these two re-
wards are not only higher than in other countries, but
they are also more rigorously applied. Awards of the
Victoria Cross and of the Medal of Honor are so rare and
so jealously guarded that they are undoubtedly the two
highest honours which can be bestowed for valour, and this
may serve to explain why they are placed first in their re-
spective countries, contrary to the custom of all others.
As stated in Chapter I, the Medal of Honor was insti-


tuted by Act of Congress in 1861, and is the earliest
American decoration now in existence; however, it ap-
plied at that time only to enlisted men of the Navy. In
the following year enlisted men of the Army were included
and by an Act approved March 3, 1863, its provisions
were extended to include officers of the Army.

The conditions under which the Medal of Honor may
be awarded have been changed from time to time by va-
rious laws. The first that of 1861 , authorized the bestowal
upon such enlisted men of the Navy "as shall most dis-
tinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other
seamanlike qualities during the present war." The Act
of the following year, which applied to the Army, read
the same except that "seamanlike" was replaced by "sol-
dierlike," and the war was termed an "insurrection." In
its original conception, therefore, the Medal of Honor was
not limited to heroism, much less to heroism in action,
as seamanlike or soldierlike qualities could also be re-
warded with this medal. Furthermore this law applied
only to the Civil War, and at the conclusion of that
struggle would have lapsed had not subsequent legislation
extended its life.

By the Act of March 3, 1863, the Army conditions were
changed so as to bestow the medal on "such officers, non-
commissioned officers, and privates as have most dis-
tinguished or who may hereafter most distinguish them-
selves in action." This law included officers; it did away
with the limitation of time to the Civil War, and also
with the expression "soldierlike qualities," and it required
that the services be performed "in action."




Stars of Orders

1. Order of the Bath (Gt. Britain)
3. Order of the Legion of Honor (France)
5. Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus

2. Order of St. Michael and St. George

(Gt. Britain)
4. Order of Leopold (Belgium)
6. Order of the Rising Sun (Japan)

American Becorationja^

The phrase "most distinguish themselves" was open
to a variety of interpretations; of course the first thing
that comes to mind is heroic conduct at the risk of Hfe,
but a Httle consideration will show that the services of
the general in command of a victorious army must cer-
tainly have been "distinguished," in fact probably the
"most distinguished" of all in that army; and between
these two extremes come many different kinds of
services which might also be characterized as "dis-
tinguished," without involving any particular acts of
heroism. It is therefore not surprising that in the early
days of this decoration it was awarded for many different
kinds of deeds, although it should be noted that successful
generalship was never considered in connection with the
Medal of Honor, it was confined to personal acts of hero-
ism, but there was sometimes great Hberality in deciding
what constituted "an heroic act." For example the Medal
of Honor was accepted during the Civil War as the ap-
propriate reward for -one who captured an enemy flag,
without consideration of the circumstances connected
with the capture ; now the result of the deed is considered
immaterial, and the award of a Medal of Honor is based
entirely on the accompanying circumstances. Cases of
this kind however were comparatively infrequent and
they became less as more definite policies were established.

To give in detail all the gradual steps in this evolution
would be too voluminous, but one important case should
not be omitted. In 1878 a board appointed to consider
recommendations for Medals of Honor for men in the
7th Cavalry for services rendered at the battle of Little


i^thtv9i, 5ietoration)E(, anb Snsfignia

Big Horn (the Custer massacre) two years before, adopted
as a guiding policy "that the conduct which deserves
such recognition should not be the simple discharge of
duty, but such acts beyond this that if omitted or refused
to be done should not justly subject the person to censure
for shortcoming or failure."

Finally in June, 1897, the War Department pubUshed
an Executive Order which gave written expression to the
policy which had been gradually built up, and under
which the Department had been acting for some years.
This Order said:

1. In order that the Congressional Medal of Honor may be
deserved, service must have been performed in action of such
a conspicuous character as to clearly distinguish the man for
gallantry and intrepidity above his comrades — service that
involves extreme jeopardy of life or the performance of extra-
ordinarily hazardous duty. Recommendations for the deco-
ration will be judged by this standard of extraordinary merit,
and incontestable proof of performance of the service will
be exacted.

2. Soldiers of the Union have ever displayed bravery in
battle, else victories could not have been gained; but, as
courage and self-sacrifice are the characteristics of every true
soldier, such a badge of distinction as the Congressional medal
is not to be expected as the reward of conduct that does not
clearly distingmsh the soldier above other men whose bravery
and gallantry have been proved in battle.

'ihis established a specific standard of the highest char-
acter, but the very fact that it was so high prevented the
reward of many acts which, while deserving of recogni-
tion, did not measure up to the standard for the Medal of
Honor, and this induced another board, consisting of five


^mtvitm ©ecorations;

retired general officers, to recommend "that other insig-
nia, in addition to the Medal of Honor, be established by-
Congress to be awarded for distinguished or highly meri-
torious services, not only in action but also in other
spheres of duty. Such rewards are recognized in all
armies and are a great incentive to extraordinary effort
and the display of soldierly qualities." As narrated in
Chapter I, such additional decorations were established
in 1918.

In July, 19 1 8, the rules for the Medal were again
amended by the following wording:

The President is authorized to present in the name of Con-
gress, a Medal of Honor only to each person who, while an
officer or enlisted man of the Army, shall hereafter, in action
involving actual conflict with an enemy, distinguish himself
conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his
life, above and beyond the call of duty.

This is the only medal presented "in the name of Con-
gress," hence the frequent allusion to it as "the Congres-
sional Medal." It should be noted that the present law
requires, i. That the recipient be "an officer or enlisted
man," this phrase prevents the award of this decoration
to civilians serving with the army, which is permitted
with our other decorations; 2. The deed must be "in
action involving actual conffict with an enemy," this
prevents the rewarding by this medal of many heroic
deeds which are performed in action, but not in "actual
conflict with an enemy " ; 3. In determining what is "above
and beyond the call of duty," the policy adopted by the
board of 1878, already quoted, is followed, "acts that if


omitted or refused to be done should not justly subject
the person to censure for shortcoming or failure."

In the Navy the original Act of 1861 was changed the
following year to bestow it on ''seamen distinguishing
themselves in battle or for extraordinary heroism in the
line of their profession." This eliminated the "seamanlike
qualities" of the original law, but did not limit it to hero-
ism "in action," as did the Army law, and a number of
Navy Medals of Honor have been given for heroism at
other times, even in time of peace, for example two were
given for heroic action on the part of two men in the
crew of the U.S.S. Puritan when one of the boilers
exploded in July 1897; and eleven were awarded for simi-
lar conduct when the boilers of the U.S.S. Pennington
exploded in 1905.

It will also be observed that only "seamen" were eli-
gible for the decoration, this excluded officers, warrant
officers, and petty officers. This was partly remedied in
March, 1901, by an act authorizing the decoration for
"any enlisted man of the Navy or Marine Corps," and
in February, 191 5, it was further extended to include the
officers, but so far as the requirements for the services
rendered were concerned the law of 1862 held until Feb-
ruary, 191 9, when the wording of the last Army Act,
already quoted, was adopted for the Navy also, so now
the two medals are on exactly the same footing.

The present law for both Army and Navy prohibits
the award of more than one Medal of Honor to the same
person, with a provision that in the event of a second act
justifying such an award, a suitable device to be placed


lamer jcan decorations;

on the ribbon shall be given instead of a second medal.
The previous laws had not been so explicit, nevertheless
the War Department, having in view the almost universal
practice of all countries, adopted the policy of not giving
more than one medal to any one individual, although a
few such awards were actually made, probably through
oversight and in ignorance of the fact that a previous
award had been made to that person. There are three
such cases in the Army; Gen. F. D. Baldwin, and Col.
T. W. Custer, both of whom received two Congressional
Medals while junior officers, and Sergeant Henry Hogan,
5th U. S. Infantry, who was given two for different
deeds performed in Indian campaigns. Two Navy Med-
als of Honor have been awarded to Gen. Smedley D.
Butler and to Sergeant Dan Daly, both of the Marine

Inasmuch as the Army Medal of Honor and the Navy
Medal of Honor are different decorations, and are gov-
erned by different acts of Congress, even though the con-
ditions of award are identical, it is probable that one per-
son could be given each of those medals under the present
law, and in that way he could obtain two Medals of Honor,
but this is merely supposition as the question has not
received any authoritative ruling; although if the prece-
dent of the Distinguished Service Medal (q.v.) is any cri-
terion, it will be decided in that manner.

The following citations from War Department orders
awarding the Medal of Honor will serve to illustrate the
character of deeds for which this medal is appropriate,
and also the nature of an official citation.


John L. Barkley, private, first class, Company K, 4th In-
fantry. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and
beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Cunel,
France, October 7, 191 8. Pvt. Barkley, who was stationed in
an observation post half a kilometer from the German line,
on his own initiative repaired a captured enemy machine gun
and mounted it in a disabled French tank near his post.
Shortly afterwards, when the enemy launched a counterattack
against our forces, Pvt. Barkley got into the tank, waited
under the hostile barrage until the enemy line was abreast of
him, and then opened fire, completely breaking up the counter-
attack and killing and wounding a large number of the enemy.
Five minutes later an enemy 77-millimeter gun opened fire
on the tank point-blank. One shell struck the driver wheel of
the tank, but this soldier nevertheless remained in the tank
and after the barrage ceased broke up a second enemy counter-
attack, thereby enabling our forces to gain and hold Hill 253.

This was undoubtedly a remarkable achievement, and
is an excellent illustration of the wonderful resourcefulness
and initiative of the American soldier. Certainly no one
could have been justly subjected to censure had he failed
to undertake such a task as Private Barkley conceived
and executed.

Samuel WoodfiU, first lieutenant, 60th Infantry. For con-
spicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call
of duty in action with the enemy at Cunel, France, October 12,
1918. While he was leading his company against the enemy,
his line came under heavy machine-gun fire, which threatened
to hold up the advance. Followed by two soldiers at 25 yards,
this officer went out ahead of his first line toward a machine-
gun nest and worked his way around its flank, leaving the two
soldiers in front. When he got within 10 yards of the gun it
ceased firing, and four of the enemy appeared, three of whom
were shot by Lieut. Woodfill. The fourth, an officer, rushed


American ©ecorations;

at Lieut. Woodfill, who attempted to club the officer with
his rifle. After a hand-to-hand struggle, Lieut. Woodfill
killed the officer with his pistol. His company thereupon
continued to advance until shortly afterwards another ma-
chine-gun nest was encountered. Calling on his men to
follow, Lieut. Woodfill rushed ahead of his line in the face of
heavy fire from the nest, and when several of the enemy
appeared above the nest he shot them, capturing three other
members of the crew and silencing the gun. A few minutes
later this officer for the third time demonstrated conspicuous
daring by charging another machine-gun position, killing five
men in one machine-gun pit with his rifle. He then drew his
revolver and started to jump into the pit when two other
gunners only a few yards away turned their gun on him.
Failing to kill them with his revolver, he grabbed a pick
lying near by and killed both of them. Inspired by the ex-
ceptional courage displayed by this officer, his men pressed
on to their objective under severe shell and machine-gun fire.

This is reminiscent of the old days of bloodthirsty hand
to hand encounters, with the battle axe and claymore.

Michael J. Perkins, private, first class, Company D, lOist
Infantry. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above
and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy at Belleu
Bois, France, October 27, 1918. He, voluntarily and alone,
crawled to a German "pill-box" machine-gun emplacement,
from which grenades were being thrown at his platoon.
Awaiting his opportunity, when the door was again opened
and another grenade thrown, he threw a bomb inside,
bursting the door open; and then, drawing his trench knife,
rushed into the emplacement. In a hand-to-hand struggle he
killed or wounded several of the occupants and captured about
25 prisoners, at the same time silencing seven machine guns.

This is shorter than the other two, but equally eloquent ;
"voluntarily and alone" he carried out his plan, in the


©tbers;, ©ecorationsf, anb Snj^ignia

course of which he was severely wounded, but he refused
to leave and continued the action, when a second wound
completely disabled him, and while he was being evacu-
ated to the rear, a shell destroyed the ambulance, killing
our hero. A short tale, but a very moving one which
deserves to live in the memory of his country.

In the Navy the first Medal of Honor awarded during
the World War was to Ship Fitter Patrick McGunigal,
U. S. Navy, and was under the old law, not for services
in action, but for ''extraordinary heroism in the line of
his profession," so the citation will illustrate, not only a
naval citation, but also the character of a deed, which,
under the present law, cannot be rewarded with a Medal
of Honor but is appropriate for the Navy Cross, as will
be hereafter explained.

The citation reads :

On the morning of September 17, 1917, while the U. S. S.
Huntington was passing through the war zone, a kite balloon
was sent up with Lieutenant (Jr. grade) Henry W. Hoyt,
U. S. N. as observer. When the balloon was about 400 feet
in the air the temperature suddenly dropped, causing the
balloon to descend about 200 feet, when it was struck by a
squall. The nose of the balloon dipped downward into a
long nose dive and it started to roll over. The pilot was inside
the basket and could not get out, due to the tangle of ropes
overhead. Finally the balloon was hauled to the ship's side,
but the basket trailed in the water and the pilot was sub-
merged. McGunigal, with great daring, climbed down the
side of the ship, jumped to the ropes leading to the basket
and cleared the tangle enough to get the pilot out of them,
helped the pilot to get clear, put a bowline around him and
he was hauled to the deck. A bowline was lowered to McGuni-




« •












American 3Secoration£{

gal and he was taken safely aboard. McGunigal's action in
going to the rescue of this officer was an extraordinary exhi-
bition of self-sacrifice as McGunigal well knew that if he
failed there was no chance of himself being rescued.

Both Army and Navy have now had two designs for
their medal. The originals which were designed by A. C.
Paquet consisted of a five-pointed star with a large me-
dallion in the centre, on which Minerva was represented
as warding off Discord (Plates 6 and 9). This will be
understood when we remember that they were designed
during the Civil War. The Navy medal was suspended
from a bar by means of an anchor attached between the
upper rays of the star, these were replaced in the Army
medal by a trophy of arms surmounted by an eagle. The
Army changed to the present design in 1904, this bears
the head of Minerva, the goddess of Wisdom, and the
star is surmounted by an eagle standing on a bar on which
is the word "Valor" (Plate 6). On the reverse of the bar
is the inscription "The Congress to," and on the reverse
of the medal is engraved the rank, name, and organization
of the recipient and the place and date of the act for which
the medal is awarded.

The present Navy medal was designed in 191 9 by
Tiffany & Company, of New York; it is gold, and on the
reverse is "Awarded to," followed by data similar to
that engraved on the Army medal (Plate 9).

The original ribbon was the same for both services,

thirteen vertical stripes of red and white with a narrow

band of blue across the top suggested by the American

coat of arms. This was changed by the Army in the early

4 49

©rber^, JBecorationsf, anb M^igx^m

seventies, and again in 1904, to the present design of
light blue with white stars, perhaps the most distinctive
ribbon now in use in any country. The Navy adopted
the same ribbon in 191 3.

The Medal of Honor is worn at the neck. Originally it
was placed on the breast but when we began to authorize
other medals it was decided to give it a place of greater
honour. This accounts for the fact that it is provided
with a short piece of ribbon and a bar, just as any ordi-
nary medal; the bar is provided with an eye at the back
which is hooked into an attachment placed on a piece of
light blue ribbon passed around the neck. Usually when a
medal is worn at the neck it is provided with a ring for
suspension, through which the neckband of ribbon is

For a second act warranting an award of a Medal of
Honor, a bronze oakleaf cluster is bestowed by the Army.
This cluster is worn on the ribbon of the medal, and a
miniature thereof on the service ribbon (Plate 7). It was
adopted for this purpose in 191 8 and was designed by
the sculptor, Mr. Herbert Adams, of the Commission of
Fine Arts. However no Medal of Honor ribbon has yet
been decorated by the addition of a cluster. No device
has been selected by the Navy in lieu of a second award.

The total number now borne on the Medal of Honor
roll of the Army is 1795, of these 78 were awarded for
services rendered in the World War. An analysis of these
78 is interesting. In the first place 19, just one quarter,
were posthumous awards; this speaks volumes for the
risk of life run by a medallist. Considering the question


lamerican Becorationflf

of rank, 58 went to men, 16 to junior officers, and four
to field officers. A valour decoration is essentially for
the junior officer and man, the higher in rank the less
chance an officer has for the display of personal heroism,
and each succeeding war tends to accentuate this. Not
only does the duty of a higher officer usually keep him
from advancing with the first waves of the attack, but it
rarely permits him to engage in acts of personal daring
even when he is in the thick of the fighting, he is in com-
mand of a large body of men who have been assigned a
definite objective, and his first duty is to see that his
command presses on to that objective, that his men take
advantage of every favourable opportunity that presents
itself to advance, conserving lives so far as possible by
utilizing the configurations of terrain, and seizing the
critical moment for the final attack. Obviously this
demands his whole attention and precludes the possibility

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Online LibraryRobert E. WyllieOrders, decorations and insignia, military and civil; with the history and romance of their origin and a full description of each → online text (page 4 of 19)