Doctor or Doctress?

Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians

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Account of a lecture by Dr. Mary Walker in Durham, England, covering her capture by the Confederate Army and imprisonment during the Civil War.

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“How Dr. Mary is Remarkable”: A Female Civil War Surgeon

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. She was released four months later, in August. In recognition of her services to the Union Army, President Andrew Johnson gave her a Medal of Honor in November 1865. In 1866, Walker became president of the National Dress Reform Association and was active in the Central Women's Suffrage Bureau. During the late 1860s and early 1870s, Walker toured the United Kingdom, giving lectures about her time spent as a war prisoner and supporting women’s dress reform. Walker quickly became well-known to the British public, not only for her services in the American Civil War, but also for her unusual style of dress and strong opinions.

Mary Edwards Walker was unique not only for her Civil War experience, but also for her style of dress and her outspoken personality. This newspaper article gives an account of Walker's capture by Confederate soldiers and her imprisonment. It also reveals how an English journalist viewed Walker and what he thought about her speech and her appearance. Walker's public persona sparked strong reactions in all who met her.

Creator: The Durham Chronicle

Language: english

Item Number: a026_008

Pages: 1

Size: 11.43 x 36.19cm

Physical Collection: Papers of Lida Poynter ca.1850-1946 (ACC-026), ACC-026

Finding Aid:

Link to OPAC Record:

Cite this source: Title of document, date. A Female Civil War Surgeon: How Dr. Mary is Remarkable. Doctor or Doctress?: Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians. The Legacy Center, Drexel University College of Medicine Archives & Special Collections. Philadelphia, PA. Date of access.

Walker, Mary Edwards, 1832-1919

Medicine, Military

United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865

Women surgeons

Clothing and dress

Durham, England

Richmond, VA