November 11, 1918
Mary Walker MD
c 1887
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 soliders, 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.
great-grand niece from the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee states "It's clear your
great-grandaunt was not only courageous during the term she served as a contract
doctor [and] as an outspoken proponent of feminine rights. She was much ahead of her
time and, as usual, she was not regarded kindly by many of her contemporaries. Today
she appears prophetic."

Today she serves as a reminder to Americans that women are as directly responsible
for the freedoms we enjoy as their male counterparts.

"Let the generations know that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom," she

A 20¢ stamp honoring Dr. Mary Walker was issued in Oswego, NY on June 10, 1982.
The stamp commemorates the first woman to have been awarded the Congressional
Medal of Honor and the second woman to graduate from a medical school in the United

In 2000, Mary Edwards Walker was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame at Seneca
Falls, New York.

The full text of her entry at the U.S. Army Center of Military History of Medal of Honor
Citations reads:


Rank and organization
: Contract Acting Assistant Surgeon (civilian), U. S. Army.
Places and dates: Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861, Patent Office Hospital, Washington
from Union forces.

It was during one of these trips on April
10, 1864, that Mary "walked into" a group
of Confederate soldiers just south of the
Georgia-Tennessee border. Dressed in her
uniform, which consisted trousers, an
officer's jacket and two pistols, she was
sent to prison as a spy.  The debate over
whether she was a spy, and for what side,
remains a topic discussed by historians even today.

Mary was confined in a Confederate prison in Richmond for the next four months.

Even then, Mary was rebelling against the establishment. She not only treated prisoners
with whatever provisions she could obtain, she complained about the lack of grain and
vegetables for prisoners. Through her persistence, the Confederates were forced to add
wheat bread and cabbage to the weekly rations.

On Aug. 12, 1864, she was released along with 24 other Union doctors as part of a
prisoner exchange for 17 Confederate surgeons. She proudly said she was exchanged
"man for man" after her exchange for a Confederate major.

Almost two months later, Mary finally received her commission as acting assistant
surgeon -- becoming the first female surgeon commissioned in the Army. She
continued her career with the military serving during the Battle of Atlanta before
practicing at a female prison in Kentucky and an orphanage in Tennessee. She was
discharged on June 15, 1865. She was paid $766.16 for her wartime service.
Afterward, she got a monthly pension of $8.50, later raised to $20, but still less than
some widows' pensions.

Following the Civil War, she was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Andrew
Jackson on Nov. 11, 1865, at the recommendation of U.S. Major Generals William
Sherman and George Thomas, in order to recognize her contributions to the war effort
-- specifically during the First Battle of Bull Run. Dr. Mary Edwards Walker became the
first and only female to receive the country's highest military award.

After the war, Mary Edwards Walker became a writer and lecturer, touring here and
abroad on women's rights, dress reform, health and temperance issues. Tobacco, she
one of many women who made the attempt over the years on the road to full suffrage.

In 1890, Mary declared herself a candidate for Congress in Oswego. The next year, she
campaigned for a U.S. Senate seat and, the following year, paid her way to the
Democratic National Convention.

In 1917 her Congressional Medal, along with the medals of 910 others was taken away
when Congress revised the Medal of Honor standards to include only “actual combat
with an enemy” Like she had many times in her life, Mary defied the request to
conform and continued wearing the "unearned" medal, thereby breaking the law. She
continued to wear it, along with a black suit, pants, top hat, bow tie and wing collar,
until the day she died in February 1919 at the age of 86 on the family farm in Oswego,
New York. During her funeral, an American Flag was draped over her casket and she
was buried in a black suit in the Rural Cemetery on the Cemetery Road. She died one
year before the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which guaranteed
women the right to vote. A relative told the New York Times: "Dr. Mary lost the medal
simply because she was a hundred years ahead of her time and no one could stomach

"Until women have a voice in making laws," she wrote in her first book, "Hit". "They
must of necessity be imperfect, as are all laws, where ... woman has had no voice in
their making."

In 1977, following intensive lobbying by her great-grand niece, the Army Board
authorized the reinstatement of the medal citing her "distinguished gallantry, self-
sacrifice, patriotism, dedication and unflinching loyalty to her country, despite the
apparent discrimination because of her sex."

In World War II, a ship was christened the SS Mary Walker, while in 1982 the postal
With the outbreak of the Civil War, Mary went to Washington, D.C. to join the Union
Army. The commanders at the time declined her assistance so she volunteered as a
nurse and joined the staff of the hospital set up in the U.S. Patent Office. During this
time, she also helped organize the Women's Relief Association which provided lodging
for wives, mothers and children of soldiers in Washington. In 1862, she journeyed to
New York where she earned a second medical degree from Hygeia Therapeutic College.

Around this time, Mary began trying to introduce new field medical practices to the
Union Army front lines, where she served as a field surgeon treating soldiers in a tent
hospital. She felt by advising stretcher bearers to carry wounded soldiers with their
heads elevated above their feet that this would help with the mortality rate. She also felt
amputations were done too readily and encouraged many soldiers to refuse them.

In September 1863, Walker was finally appointed assistant surgeon in the Army of the
Cumberland for which she made herself a slightly modified officer's uniform to wear,
in response to the demands of traveling with the soldiers and working in field hospitals.
She worked as a field surgeon near the Union front lines for almost two years
(including Fredericksburg and in Chattanooga after the Battle of Chickamauga).

The 52nd Ohio Infantry Regiment finally gave her the opportunity she had been wanting
since she graduated from Syracuse - she was appointed a replacement surgeon.
Though the feeling wasn't shared by his subordinates, Col. Dan McCook is said to have
been grateful to have her. By contrast, the director of the medical staff for the regiment
called Mary's placement "a medical monstrosity" and requested a review of her medical
qualifications "doubting she knew much more than most housewives." Some men also
questioned her alliances because she ventured into the swamps and low ground near the
water to care for sick or near death Southern women and children who were hiding out
Mary Edwards Walker, one of the nation's 1.8
million women veterans, was the only one to earn the
Congressional Medal of Honor, for her service
during the Civil War. She, along with thousands of
other women, were honored in the newly-dedicated
Women in Military Service for America Memorial in
October 1997.

Controversy surrounded Mary Edwards Walker
throughout her life. She was born on November 26,
1832 in the Town of Oswego, New York, into an
abolitionist family. Her birthplace on the Bunker Hill
Road is marked with a historical marker. Her father,
a country doctor, was a free thinking participant in
many of the reform movements that thrived in
Buffalo Bill Cody versus Wild Bill Hickock
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Quiz #331 Results
Bookmark and Share
1.  Mary Edwards Walker is only woman to be awarded
the Congressional Medal of Honor
2.  Woman to serve as a U.S. Army Surgeon
3.  She had her Medal of Honor taken away in 1917,
only to have it restored by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.
Answer to Quiz #331
November 20, 2011

1. She is the only woman ever to...?
2.  She became the first-ever ...?
3.  What distinction did she share with Buffalo Bill?
Tin Eye Alert!
You can find this photograph on TinEye,
but you will have more fun if you solve the puzzle on your own.
Mary Edwards Walker
November 26, 1832 – February 21, 1919
A search for 'Buffalo Bill distinction' led me to articles telling how he had been awarded
the Congressional Medal of Honor for his Civil War service. After looking at the quiz
questions it made sense to do a search for 'first woman Medal of Honor'. When initiated
with an Image Search, the exact photo of this week's quiz surfaced - that of Dr. Mary

As a result of serving in the Union army as a surgeon, she became the only woman ever
to receive the Medal of Honor, her country's highest military award. Good for Dr.
Walker for refusing to return her medal. My wife referred to her as a 'plucky' woman.

My first impression upon viewing the photo was how restrictive her clothing appeared.
Of course that was the formal dress of the day! It was interesting to read that she
resented the uncomfortable and unappealing clothing women wore in the mid to late
1800's and personally wore men's suits as she lectured about the need for change. She
once said she was 100 years ahead of her time. I have to believe that if she was a
surgeon today she would be much richer and would dress very fashionably. An army
board in 1977 awarded the Medal of Honor back to Dr. Walker. I am wondering if
there were strong and influential voices from her descendants who lobbied for this just
result? If so, good for them!                                                                
 Don Draper

Quite a lady, an interesting but easy quiz.                                   
Margaret Waterman

N.B.  Not so hard a quiz this week.  Sometimes even a very plain picture with very
little to go on can yield enough information to identify it.  And even if a quiz is easy,
it usually has an interesting story to go with it. - Q. Gen.

How I solved.  I googled 'civil war woman medal' and got several hits for Mary
Walker.  I googled her name on Google images to make sure it was the same
woman/same picture.

I liked her.  She was a troublemaker!!! Troublemakers RULE!           
Shirley Hamblin

This was another easy one -- I'm on a roll. :)  Although there was something strange
about it as well.  I searched for 'Wild Bill Cody' 'only woman' and came up with several
links, including the following: cody congressional medal of honor at

Results 1 - 50 "... very colorful hero of the Indian Wars, William F.'Wild Bill' Cody. ....
Cody and Dr. Mary Walker, the only woman to received the Medal of ...

Bill Cody |
145 results “ ... six civilians (including Dr. Mary Edwards Walker , the only woman
..... Wild Bill Cody said it was about the show, entertaining people in a ...
but, when I clicked on the links, I didn't find any reference to Dr. Walker. Fortunately,
though, this was enough information to get me going, and once I looked up an image
for her name, I was sure.  Then it was just a matter of filling in the details.
Cindy Tarsi
I want to give credit where credit is due; this quiz would have been more difficult had I
not worked through one of the quizzes on my new CD. As itwas,  I searched on Bill
Cody in relation to medals he received.                                                 
Barbara Mroz

It was probably a combination of the Buffalo Bill and Wild West Show that led to Wild
Bill. I knew what you meant. [You had originally referred to Wild Bill Hickock]. I
cannot remember if I had read about Mary before but being a vet, I recognized the
medal she was wearing.                                                                          
Jim Baker

I found her by finding the Medal of Honor first. Bill Cody was just the confirmation that
I had found the right medal...then I found her image. Pretty easy find...took about 10
minutes. Very enjoyable.                                                                 
Kyra Bradley

Googling "only woman ever to" brought Mary Walker as No. 2 on the list. I forgot the
picture is MEW.jpg, and wasted two minutes looking at the first name on the list. Dr.
Walker was certainly interested in helping the wounded and others in trouble. I hope my
answer to No. 3 is what you expected "Buffalo Bill" is the only Cody mentioned by
wikipedia. There is "Wild Bill" Hickock and "Buffalo Bill" Cody, but no Wild Bill Cody.
Who were you thinking of?                                                            
Arthur Hartwell

Good Quiz!, easy one because the MOH was showing in the photo, and the line of
questioning in the quiz was spot on. Happy Thanksgiving & have a great week!
Robert W. Steinmann Jr.

Dr. Walker must have made some powerful allies without being labeled too much of
a trouble maker.  That's unusual in any era.  She did a lot of good for a lot of
people - that cannot be denied.  Growing up as she did with four older sisters (and a
younger brother), you would think she would have more influence from the females
in her life.  But she apparently as able to think like a man and communicate with
men in a nonthreatening way.  Speaking as a woman who has survived much the
same environment (but I would guess in not so graceful a way at times), I can really
appreciate her accomplishments. - Q. Gen.

Enjoyable (if easy - assuming I have the correct answers) quiz which gives you the
chance to learn something new. Thank you.                                            
Rachel Joy

I recognized the Congressional Medal of Honor right away.                     
Mike Dalton

She is buried about an hour east of me in Oswego, NY.                            
Jillian Dart
Comments from Our Readers
Congratulations to Our Winners!

Patty Kiker                Donna Jolley
Don Draper                Margie O'Donnell
Joyce Veness                Margaret Paxton
Jim Baker                Shirley Hamblin
Gary Sterne                Barbara Mroz
Margaret Waterman                Carol Gene Farrant
Cindy Tarsi                Kyra Bradley
Arthur Hartwell                Robert W. Steinmann Jr.
Dennis Brann                Rachel Joy
Mike Dalton                Jillian Dart
Milene Rawlinson                Diane Burkett
Peter Norton
How Collier Solved the Puzzle
Not much to go on here: a woman, wearing some kind of medal, who
was first to do something... and the photo is labeled mew.jpg.

Nevertheless, the incredibly powerful Google Image (searching on
woman medal first) gives us in the first row of results the page which has a photo of the
same woman.

Wiki then tells the whole story of how Mary Edwards Walker
(MEW!) was the first (and only) woman to be awarded the
Congressional Medal of Honor (for her Civil War service).

A subsequent review board some 50-odd years later deleted her (and
910 others, including William F. 'Buffalo Bill' Cody from the MOH
Roll, but President Jimmy Carter restored her medal posthumously in

Not so hard after all!

Collier Smith
Dr. Mary Walker
c 1910
Googling "only woman ever to" brought Mary Walker as No. 2 on the
list. I forgot the picture is MEW.jpg, and wasted two minutes looking
at the first name on the list. Dr. Walker was certainly interested in
helping the wounded and others in trouble. I hope my answer to No.
3 is what you expected "Buffalo Bill" is the only Cody mentioned by
wikipedia. There is "Wild Bill" Hickock and "Buffalo Bill" Cody, but
no Wild Bill Cody. Who were you thinking of?

Arthur Hartwell

Oops.  I originally had Wild Bill Hickock, but I meant Buffalo Bill
Cody.  Several readers pointed out that Buffalo Bill was not so wild.  
Thanks for the heads up.

Colleen Fitzpatrick
Quizmaster General


Wikipedia isn't the best reference, but it's not the only reference to
Buffalo Bill getting the Medal of Honor and then being one of the 911
lost it.

Wild Bill Hickok may also fit into that category, but the common bond
between Mary and Buffalo Bill is good.

A quickie search of Will Bill doesn't seem to show any connection to

Carol Farrant

Actually, I read several years ago that a survey showed that
Wikipedia is just about, though not quite, as accurate as the
Encyclopedia Britannica.

Colleen Fitzpatrick
Quizmaster General
Buffalo Bill Cody
William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody (February 26,
1846 – January 10, 1917) was a United States
soldier, bison hunter and showman. He was born in
the Iowa Territory (now the U.S. state of Iowa), in
LeClaire but lived several years in Canada before his
family moved to the Kansas Territory. Buffalo One
of the most colorful figures of the American Old
West, Buffalo Bill became famous for the shows he
organized with cowboy themes, which he toured in
Great Britain and Europe as well as the United

In 1872 Cody was awarded a Medal of Honor for
"gallantry in action" while serving as a civilian scout
for the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. In 1917, the U.
upstate New York in the mid 1800s. He believed strongly in education and equality for
his five daughters Mary, Aurora, Luna, Vesta, and Cynthia (there was one son, Alvah).
He also believed they were hampered by the tight-fitting women's clothing of the day.

His daughter, Mary, became an early enthusiast for Women's Rights, and passionately
espoused the issue of dress reform. The most famous proponent of dress reform was
Amelia Bloomer, a native of Homer, New York, whose defended a colleague's right to
wear "Turkish pantaloons" in her Ladies' Temperance Newspaper, the Lily. "Bloomers,"
as they became known, did achieve some popular acceptance towards the end of the
19th century as women took up the new sport of bicycling. Mary Edwards Walker
discarded the unusual restrictive women's clothing of the day. Later in her life she
donned full men's evening dress to lecture on Women's Rights.

After graduating from Falley Seminary in Fulton, New York, in 1852 she taught school
in Minetto, New York, but her interest in medicine drove her to enroll in Syracuse
Medical College. At that time, Syracuse was the only medical school in the country
equally accepting men and women. In June 1855, at the age of 21, Mary was the only
female medical doctor in her graduating class. She gradtuated after three 13-week
semesters of medical training which she paid $55 each for.

In those days Americans weren't receptive to a woman physician. In fact the belief of
many males at that time could be summed up by G.W.F. Hegel, "Women are capable of
education, but they are not made for activities which
demand a universal faculty such as the more
advanced sciences, philosophy and certain forms of
artistic production."

In 1856 Mary married a fellow student at Syracuse.
In their marriage ceremony, she never uttered the
words "to obey," nor did she take his name. She also
wore trousers and a dress coat to the ceremony.
Together they set up a medical practice in Rome,
NY, but the public was not ready to accept a woman
physician, and their practice floundered. Their
marriage lasted for 13 years, however, this was
merely a technicality because no state would grant
her a divorce from Albert.
service issued a 20 cent stamp in her
honor. There is a U.S. Army Reserve
center named for her in Walker, Michigan,
and the Whitman-Walker Clinic in
Washington, D.C. is named in her honor.

Throughout her life, Dr. Mary Edwards
Walker distinguished herself as a patriot,
doctor, suffrage leader, writer, lecturer
and trendsetter.

In a 1999 American Forces Press Service
story, an excerpt from a 1974 letter to her
Mary Walker MD, c 1864
said, resulted in paralysis and insanity. Women's
clothing, she said, was immodest and inconvenient. She
was elected president of the National Dress Reform
Association in 1866. Walker prided herself by being
arrested numerous times for wearing full male dress,
including wing collar, bow tie, and hat.

She was aslo something of an inventor, coming up with
the idea of using a return postcard for registered mail.

She wrote extensively, including a combination
biography and commentary called Hit, a combination
autobiography and commentary on divorce in 1871, and
a second book, Unmasked, or the Science of
Immortality, about infidelity in 1878.

In 1872 in Oswego, Mary E. Walker attempted to vote,
Mary Walker MD, c 1887
Mary Walker, c 1863
Mary Walker, c 1911
Mary Walker MD, c 1890
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.
Entered service at: Louisville, Ky. Born:
26 Nov 1832, Oswego County, N.Y.

Citation:  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
llntirin~ in a variety of ways,"
and that
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.


Dr. Walker's Medals
S.Army—after Congress revised the standards for award of the medal—removed from
the rolls 911 medals previously awarded either to civilians, or for actions that would not
warrant a Medal of Honor under the new higher standards. Among those revoked was

In 1977 Dr. Mary Edwards Walker's medal was restored, and other reviews began.
Cody's medal—along with those given to four other civilian scouts—was re-instated on
June 12, 1989.
Elizabeth Blackwell
Elizabeth Blackwell (3 February 1821 – 31 May 1910)
was the first female doctor in the United States and
the first on the UK Medical Register. She was the first
openly identified woman to graduate from medical
school, a pioneer in educating women in medicine in
the United States, and was prominent in the emerging
women's rights movement.

Blackwell attended Geneva Medical College in New
York. She was accepted there — supposedly because
the faculty put it to a student vote, and the students
thought her application was a hoax — and braved the
prejudice of some of the professors and students to
complete her training. Blackwell is said to have stated
that if the instructor were upset by the fact that
Student No. 156 wore a bonnet, she would be pleased to remove her conspicuous
headgear and take a seat at the rear of the classroom, but that she would not voluntarily
absent herself from a lecture.

In 1857 Blackwell, along with her sister Emily and Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, founded
their own infirmary, the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, in a
single room dispensary near Tompkins Square in Manhattan. During the American Civil
War, Blackwell trained many women to be nurses and sent them to the Union Army.
Many women were interested and received training at this time. After the war,
Blackwell had time, in 1868, to establish a Women's Medical College at the infirmary to
train women physicians, and doctors.

Blackwell was commemorated on a U.S. postage stamp in 1974, designed by Joseph
Stanley Kozlowski. Syracuse University Medical School collection.

In 1853, Blackwell returned to England, where she attended Bedford College for
Women in London for one year. In 1858, under a clause in the Medical Act 1858 that
recognized doctors with foreign degrees practicing in Britain before 1858, she was able
to become the first woman to have her name entered on the General Medical Council's
medical register (1 January 1859).