Doctor or Doctress?

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Photograph of Dr. Mary Walker’s Congressional Medals of Honor.

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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, Dr. 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.  However, her Medal of Honor was revoked in June of 1916 along with others by an Act of Congress. The Medals were not awarded according to the requirements specified by law, which requires those who receive Medal of Honors for distinguished conduct to be involved in actual conflict with the enemy. Walker’s Medal was re-instated posthumously in 1977.

Dr. Walker remains the only woman to have received a Congressional Medal of Honor.

Creator: Louis R. Bostwick

Language: english

Item Number: p2142

Pages: 1

Size: 19.8 x 25.3cm

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--Medals


Omaha (Neb.)