Doctor or Doctress?

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Photograph of Dr. Mary Walker wearing her military uniform, 1864.

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

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 4 months in Richmond, Virginia. She was released 4 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.

Dr. Walker’s military uniform differed from those of the soldiers (all of whom were men) and those of female nurses, because Dr. Walker favored wearing bloomers [loose-fitting pants, gathered at the ankle] underneath her dress.

Language: english

Item Number: p2103

Pages: 1

Size: 6.1 x 9.8cm

Physical Collection: ACC-AHC1

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

Military uniforms

Women's clothing