Why It Matters
Mary Edwards Walker was (and still is) the only woman to receive a Medal of Honor. Mary Walker was the only woman physician to serve as a government-commissioned surgeon in the American Civil War. She was appointed contract surgeon for the 52nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry in March 1864. In April 1864, Walker was captured by Confederate soldiers and held prisoner for four months in Richmond, Virginia. In recognition of her services to the Union Army, President Andrew Johnson awarded her a Medal of Honor in November 1865. However, in 1916, an Act of Congress of revoked Walker's Medal. The official reason for the cancellation of the Medal is explained briefly in this letter from the War Department, providing few details.