Dr. Mary Walker

Dr. Mary Walker

Dr. Mary Walker was a woman of firsts.  Born in 1832, she taught school to earn the money necessary to attend Syracuse Medical College.  Graduating in 1855 she opened up a joint medical practice with her husband and fellow medical student Albert Miller.   At the outset of the War she served as a nurse with the Army of the Potomac as there was no allowance made for female Army surgeons.  Nothing daunted, she served as an unpaid and unofficial surgeon at Fredericksburg and Chattanooga.  Having an adventurous spirit she unsuccessfully applied to be a spy for the Union in 1862.  Finally she obtained employment as contracting acting surgeon with the Army of the Cumberland in September 1863, the first woman in US military history to serve in that post.

She served as assistant surgeon with the 52nd Ohio.  She would frequently cross battle lines to aid civilians.  On April 10, 1864 she was arrested by Confederate troops as a spy.  She was transported to Richmond and held there until August 12, 1864 when she was exchanged.  She served as a surgeon during the battle of Atlanta.  The quality of her service may be judged by the efforts of General Sherman and General Thomas, commander of the Army of the Cumberland, to have her awarded the Medal of Honor.  Their efforts were crowned with success in 1865 when she became the first and, so far, only woman to earn this honor. (more…)

Published in: on April 13, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
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