Mary Walker Wears the Pants
Mary Walker received her medical degree in 1855 and was one of the very first women to be a doctor, but was only allowed to be a volunteer in the Civil War at first. In 1863 she was finally commissioned as an assistant surgeon for the Union Army. In 1864 she was captured by the Confederate Army and thought to be a spy, thus imprisoned in "Castle Thunder" for several months until exchanged for a Confederate surgeon. In 1866, Mary received a letter from President Andrew Johnson honoring her with the Medal of Honor for meritorious services. No woman had ever received such an honor. An extensive author's note tells more about Mary and details her fashion ideas about women wearing trousers. I was astonished to learn that in 1917 Congress ordered Mary and 910 other Medal of Honor recipients to return their Medals because they had not been in "actual combat with the enemy". Mary however, would not return her medal. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter restored the Medal to Dr. Mary Walker.
For extensive information about Mary, read Dr. Mary Edwards Walker: Civil War Surgeon & Medal of Honor Recipient.
Send a Question or Comment to Appleton Public Library.