Dr. Mary Walker One of the Famous Women of the Civil War

by admin on January 13, 2009

One of the most famous of all of the Women of the Civil War was Dr. Mary Walker of Oswego, New York. She worked as the first woman surgeon on the battlefields during the war and was later renowned as being ‘manish’ as she wore mens clothing the rest of her life.

Dr. Walker was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (CMOH) for her bravery under fire, only to have it rescinded later by Congress. Being the mighty little scrapper that she was, she refused to return the medal, and in retrospect it would be considered rightly so, as her medal was eventually returned to her posthumously.

People have long been in the habit of defaming the actions of our Presidents. Here Dr. Walker accused the recently assassinated President McKinley of being a murderer.

From the Moberly, Missouri Moberly Weekly Monitor, September 27, 1901:
From Syracuse, NY. – Dr. Mary Walker, of Oswego, narrowly escaped rough handling at the hands of a crowd of work men at the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg railway station there this morning. She was at the ticket window when she made the remark that the State of New York, if it executed Czolgosz is just as great a murderer as he is, and that McKinley was a murderer, because he was killing Filipinos. She was dressed in male attire, and one of the men was about to strike her when he saw who it was. She was instantly surrounded by a crowd of angry men and there were threats of lynching. Cooler judgment prevailed, and one said that she was crazy and she was allowed to go.

From a 1919 newspaper article in the Jefferson City, MO Democrat Tribune on September 3, 1919:
When Dr. Mary Walker, the woman who wore men’s clothing visited the rest room for women at the St. Louis Worlds Fair, she nearly caused a riot… “There appeared on the threshold a neat dapper little man in high silk hat, frock coat, irreproachable trousers, and a tie and a winning smile. Relaxed figures grew tense and an audible gasp smote the air. One woman clasped her just removed shirt waist on her ample bosom and exclaimed in hoarse tense tragedy, ‘My Gawd’. Dr. Mary’s card was read by an attendant and finally the women resigned themselves to negligee in the presence of an absolutely strange pair of occupied trousers.”

These are the types of unique stories that you will not likely find in any published history books, biographies or autobiographies. The only places that you will find such items of interest are in old newspaper articles. Look forward to other articles about the Women of the Civil War.

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