US MOH Η Walker, Mary Edwards, M.D.

Mary Edwards Walker, M.D.
From A to Z - Women

Mary Walker was a physician and women's rights activist who received the Medal of Honor for her service during the Civil War.

Born: November 26, 1832

Birthplace: Oswego, New York, U.S.

Father: Dr. Alvah Walker (1798–1880)
(Buried: Rural Cemetery, Oswego, New York)​

Mother: Vesta Whitcomb Walker (1801–1886)
(Buried: Rural Cemetery, Oswego, New York)​

Husband: Dr. Albert Eber Miller (1831–1913)
(Buried: Needham Cemetery, Needham, Massachusetts)​

Married: November 16, 1855
The couple separated before the war, and were Divorced in 1869.​

1850–1852: Attended Falley Seminary​
1853-1855: Attended Syracuse Medical College -
1853: On April 24th, Walker became the second documented female doctor in the United States.​
1855: Graduated from Syracuse with honors as a medical doctor, and the only woman in her class​
1857: In January, Walker joined Lydia Sayer Hasbrouck and others in a dress reform convention​
1861: Traveled to Washington, D.C. and applied for a commission as a U.S. Army surgeon, but was rejected based on her gender​
1861: Volunteered as a nurse at Washington’s Patent Office Hospital​
1861: In July, Walker journeyed to the battlefield of First Bull Run to treat wounded soldiers​
1862: In July, took time off from the war to earn a degree from the New York Hygeio-Therapeutic College in New York City​
1862: In December, Allowed by Maj. Gen. Burnside to work as a vol. surgeon in the field, treated wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg​
1863: In September employed as a "Contract Acting Assistant Surgeon (civilian)" by the Army of the Cumberland​
Became the first female surgeon employed by the U.S. Army Surgeon
Later appointed assistant surgeon of the 52nd Ohio Infantry​
1864: On April 10, after helping a Confederate doctor with an amputation, she was captured by Confederate troops, and arrested as a spy​
1864: On August 12, she was released as part of a prisoner exchange for a Confederate surgeon from Tennessee​

1865: On June 15, Walker was discharged from service​
1865: On June 24, Walker retired from government service​

1865: On November 11th, President Johnson signed a bill which presented her with the Congressional Medal of Honor for Meritorious Service​
1866: Receives the actual medal in January, Walker begins wearing it every day​
1866: Elected the president of the National Dress Reform Association​
1866: Toured Scotland and England to speak about dress reform

1866: On June 14, Walker was arrested for impersonating a man while shopping in New York City​
1869: Attended the Cincinnati suffrage convention, also attended by Lucy Stone and Susan B Anthony​
1871: She attempted to register to vote, but was turned away​
1871: Walker published her book: Hit
1878: Walker published her book: Unmasked; or the Science of Immorality
1887-1893: Toured with Kohl and Middleton and did a serious of dime museums. Walker earned $150 a week for her appearances in the show.​
1890: Declared herself a candidate for Congress in her hometown Oswego​
Made it all the way to the Democratic National Convention for a US Senate seat​
1917: An Army MOH Review Board struck Dr. Walker's name from the list of recipients, citing her lack of "actual combat with an enemy..."​
Walker refused to return her Medal of Honor
1977: On June 10, acting on a recommendation from the Board for Correction of Military Records, and signed orders by President Jimmy Carter, Dr. Walker's Medal of Honor was reinstated by the Army, 58 years after her death​
Died: February 21, 1919

Place of Death: Home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Dwyer in Oswego, New York

Cause: Natural Causes

Age at time of Death: Age of 86

Burial Place: Rural Cemetery, Oswego, New York
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Lt. Colonel
Dec 7, 2008
Nashville TN
I put her in with Chamberlain, in that she was a legend in her own mind. The MOH ought to be for combat, but she did do time for alleged espionage. When captured, I don't think her story was particularly believable. Maybe she should get a medal for participation in the event.

Ole Miss

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Silver Patron
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Dec 9, 2017
North Mississippi
Geez being a woman in the army in the middle of a civil war serving as a doctor who was captured while treating an enemy soldier then incarcerated as a spy released honorably discharged ran for Congress while unable to vote! She deserved the MOH many times over for what she accomplished in an era when she was supposed to be at home taking care of family.
PS She deserved the MOH far more than Theodore Goldin!


Jul 11, 2016
Her bravery in a male dominated world was outstanding she deserves all the plaudits and more.

Fighting is the easy bit its the mopping up after the battles that's really hard , All the medical staff in the civil war deserved a medal for the conditions they had to endure.