Categories: Medal of Honor | Women's History | United States of America, United States Civil War | Abolitionists | Roll of Honor Military Showcase Profile Nominee | Prisoners of War, United States of America, United States Civil War | Notables.
Dr. Mary Edwards Walker is the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor.   When the Civil War began, Mary sought a commission with the Union Army as a surgeon.  This was denied because she was a woman.  Not wishing to serve as a nurse because of her qualifications, she opted to volunteer for the Union Army as an unpaid surgeon.  She served at the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), July 21, 1861, and at the Patent Office Hospital in Washington, D.C.  She worked as an unpaid field surgeon near the Union front lines, including at the Battle of Fredericksburg and in Chattanooga after the Battle of Chickamauga.  Mary was captured and held as a civilian prisoner of war at Castle Thunder in Richmond, Virginia. She was later released in a prisoner exchange.  
|Civil War Army MOH|
Citation: Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861; Patent Office Hospital, Washington, D.C., October 1861; Chattanooga, Tenn., following Battle of Chickomauga, September 1863; Prisoner of War, April 10, 1864-August 12, 1864, Richmond, Va.; Battle of Atlanta, September 1864 Whereas it appears from official reports that Dr. Mary E. Walker, a graduate of medicine, "has rendered valuable service to the Government, and her efforts have been earnest and untiring in a variety of ways," and that she was assigned to duty and served as an assistant surgeon in charge of female prisoners at Louisville, Ky., upon the recommendation of Major-Generals Sherman and Thomas, and faithfully served as contract surgeon in the service of the United States, and has devoted herself with much patriotic zeal to the sick and wounded soldiers, both in the field and hospitals, to the detriment of her own health, and has also endured hardships as a prisoner of war four months in a Southern prison while acting as contract surgeon; and Whereas by reason of her not being a commissioned officer in the military service, a brevet or honorary rank cannot, under existing laws, be conferred upon her; and Whereas in the opinion of the President an honorable recognition of her services and sufferings should be made: It is ordered, That a testimonial thereof shall be hereby made and given to the said Dr. Mary E. Walker, and that the usual medal of honor for meritorious services be given her. Given under my hand in the city of Washington, D.C., this 11th day of November, A.D. 1865. Andrew Johnson, President (Medal rescinded 1917 along with 910 others, restored by President Carter 10 June 1977.)'
Mary graduated medical school in June 1855, at 21 years old, she was the only woman in her class, and the second female doctor in the nation.   Mary married Albert Miller, a physician and they began a joint practice. 
At the beginning of the American Civil War, she volunteered for the Union Army as a civilian.  The U.S. Army had no female surgeons, and at first she was only allowed to practice as a nurse. During this period, she served at the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), July 21, 1861, and at the Patent Office Hospital in Washington, D.C. She worked as an unpaid field surgeon near the Union front lines, including at the Battle of Fredericksburg and in Chattanooga after the Battle of Chickamauga.   As a suffragette, she was happy to see women serving as soldiers and alerted the press to the case of Frances Hook in Ward 2 of the Chattanooga hospital, a woman who served in the Union forces disguised as a man.
|Castle Thunder Prison|
On 29 Oct 2009 Shanice Aparicio wrote:
"I am the original new woman...Why, before Lucy Stone, Mrs. Bloomer, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were—before they were, I am. In the early '40's, when they began their work in dress reform, I was already wearing pants...I have made it possible for the bicycle girl to wear the abbreviated skirt, and I have prepared the way for the girl in knickerbockers.." National Library of Medicine
"No young lady, when she is being courted … for a moment supposes that her lover can … ever wish her to be his slave.” -Mary Edwards Walker
“Until women have a voice in making laws, they must of necessity be imperfect, as are all laws, where … woman has had no voice in their making.” -Mary Edwards Walker
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BY ANIKA BURGESS, SEPTEMBER 27, 2017
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Lawrence O'Donnell tells her story:
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