The New International Encyclopædia/Iron Cross
IRON CROSS (Ger. Eisernes Kreuz). A Prussian military order or decoration, revived during the war with France in 1871. It was first instituted by Frederick William III. as a reward for distinguished services in war. It consists of a Maltese cross, made of iron, edged with silver, and worn suspended from the neck or at the buttonhole. The superior decoration of the grand cross, a cross of double the size, is reserved for officers of high rank, who have successfully carried out a campaign, won a decisive battle, or conducted a brave defense of a fortress or position.