On June 3, 1917, an Army review board revoked
the Congressional Medal of Honor award claimed by Dr. Mary Edwards Walker
for her Civil War treatment of the wounded in hospitals and on the battlefield.
Walker's revocation was among more than 100 as Congress
sought to upgrade the requirements for the medal. (The Kearney medal was
actually the bravery medal during the Civil War.)
Many said Walker did not deserve the high honor and
further claimed that there was no existing proof that she had actually
been awarded it.
By 1917 Walker had aged into a cantankerous old woman
and she refused to give up the medal. She continued to wear it in sideshows
and the like until her death. Under pressure by women's groups, the Congress
restored the medal on June 10, 1977.
What is true about Mary Walker?
Her Confederate captives
thought her mad for her masculine mode of dress.
According to legend, President
Andrew Johnson presented Dr. Mary Edwards Walker the U.S. Congressional
Medal of Honor at the personal recommendation of General Sherman on 11-11-1865.
The medal in those days was often given en masse to entire regiments, and
many doctors received it for just being on duty at a certain place, which
may how Walker got her medal. The Kearney medal was the one given for bravery
during that period; the Congressional medal was for meritorious service.)
Walker volunteered as a doctor to the Union Army but was refused an Army
doctor's commission because of her sex.
She DID serve officially at times as a volunteer/nurse
in Sherman's army, but then she also acted as a doctor at times. Walker
angered many because she insisted on wearing an Army uniform - complete
Walker was taken prisoner while tending civilians
in the war zone and held four months by the Confederates.
Another chapter of how life was really like
in the "good old days."
an English sea captain advertised in London for free passage for single
women wanting to go to the Virginia colonies to find husbands.
He received 120 pounds of fine Virginia tobacco from
the men who "purchased" the women upon their arrival. In a census
taken six years later, only six of the 144 women were still alive.
After the war she continued wearing trousers and speaking
out about suffrage and dress reform. She found it difficult to make a living
as she became more eccentric and finally became a sideshow attraction.
She graduated from Syracuse Medical College in New York in 1855 so she
was an accredited physician at the time of the war but was forbidden to
act as one in the Army because of sex discrimination.
She was married for a short period and there are records
of her living with several women.
In 0001 AD: Roman historian Suetonius
states that Roman women had races at the Capitoline Games which leads many
of today's herstorians to disagree with the past assumptions regarding
women's physical activities in Greece and Rome. The conventional theory
advanced is that the women did nothing at all - of course, throughout history
men didn't think keeping house, the garden, taking care of children, cooking,
canning, preserving, weaving, spinning, etc., was work either... an opinion
held by many even today.