Talk:Mary Edwards Walker

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Biography assessment rating comment[edit]

WikiProject Biography Assessment Drives

Want to help write or improve biographies? Check out WikiProject Biography Tips for writing better articles. -- Yamara 21:41, 13 December 2007 (UTC)


It appears this entry has been vandalized. The first paragraph words and characters added in one of the sentences and then the first pragraph is reapated 3 or 4 times.

Yeah, it's been fixed now. jwillburtalk 05:34, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

WikiProject Military history/Assessment/Tag & Assess 2008[edit]

Article reassessed and graded as start class. --dashiellx (talk) 19:43, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Place and cause of death[edit]

I'm a newbe here, and so I dont know how to edit the information in the box on the right. I grew up in the Town of Oswego and was always under the impression that Dr, Walker died there. This is supported by the referenced web sites (including two I've added) found in the references section. And what's this about falling downstairs in San Deigo? Nonsense! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Oswegotownie (talkcontribs) 23:55, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

Medal of Honor-awarded-rescinded-awarded[edit]

Some more details should be included about her receiving the Medal of Honor. My understanding is that she was asking for more money and a commissioned rank for her services in the Civil War but there were complications in doing so. As an alternative measure, she was awarded the Medal of Honor since the MoH could be given out for various acts at that time (Lincoln's Honor Guard at his funeral received it; several hundred union soldiers received it just for re-upping; I seem to recall soldiers got it for capturing flags; persons could actually nominate themselves for the MoH, etc.) A review board later rescinded hundreds of Medals of Honor, hers among them. Then for some reason (I think a political female-vote-getting strategem) President Carter re-awarded her MoH in 1977. It seems ironic that the only woman to ever receive the MoH got it for nagging for money. I would think that Carter would simply have upgraded to the MoH a Silver Star one of the Army nurses received in WWI (Linnie Leckrone, Jane Rignel, Irene Robar) or WWII (Mary Wilson, Elaine Roe, Rita Rourke, Ellen Ainsworth) if he needed a female awardee. I think this matter needs more clarification, especially since most Medals of Honor are awarded posthumously for heroism in combat. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:35, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

I am planning on expandin this article in the future and will discuss more of the details of the history of here award in the next couple months. Still gethering all the refs and doing th eresearch. --Kumioko (talk) 15:13, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

Return of her medal[edit]

There was no suggestion in the Report of the Medal of Honor Board that the medals of recipients whose names were deleted should return their medals. On the question of whether the recipients could continue to wear their medals the Judge Advocate General advised the Medal of Honor Board that there was no obligation on the Army to police the matter. (I am out of town at the moment but when I return home I will add the reference from the 1919 Congressional Report that discussed the issue and included the advice from the Judge Advocate General.) Anthony Staunton (talk) 23:28, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

Reason for Award[edit]

Does anyone know why she received the award? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:03, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

The award of the Medal of Honor to Mary Walker is a story unto itself, especially since modern day political correctness and feminism have slanted the issue to where it is now clouded. Basically, the Medal of Honor was started for the North during the Civil War. The South had no medals at all except for the Battle of the Sabine Pass Medal (a onetime medal for a handful of Confederates that held off 5,000 Union troops). The first issuance of the Medal of Honor was to the men who took part in the Great Locomotive Chase (later made into a movie by Disney). Since this was the first time the Medal of Honor was being issued there were no hard and fast rules for its issuance. Capturing Confederate battle flags was initially deemed a good reason for giving it out. The Medal of Honor could also be given out as a political favor. Men got it for re-upping. Lincoln's Honor guard received the Medal of Honor. In Mary Walker's case, she had not requested it, rather she wanted more money for her services during the Civil War and she wished to be given a military rank. The military does not work that way though. She kept on harassing Congress for the money so eventually to get her off their backs, she was awarded the Medal of Honor instead. That seemed to satisfy her. It's also ironic and humorous that the only woman to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor got it for nagging for money. The medal was later taken back but she never turned hers in, and wore it all the time. In those days it was not against the law to wear medals you weren't awarded, it was before the Stolen Valor Act. Nowadays of course she'd be arrested. Carter later re-instated the award of the medal to Walker as a vote getting device. It should be pointed out that most Medals of Honor are awarded posthumously for valorous deeds in combat; it's a battle medal awarded to members of the military for extreme bravery in actual fighting, guys get them for diving on hand grenades, etc. If Walker were to be awarded a medal today, it would probably be the Legion of Merit or an equivalent. There's no way she deserves the Medal of Honor, if the rules were that loose today everybody would be getting a Medal of Honor. (talk) 19:30, 4 April 2012 (UTC)
The writer repeats the common misconception that the medal should have been returned and should not have been worn. See ‘Return of her medal’ above which states that while her name was not added to the MofH Roll she could keep and wear her medals. (She had two by 1917) (See Senate Report, 66th Congress, 1st Session, Document 58, pages 139-140 which was ordered to be printed 23 July 1919.) --Anthony Staunton (talk) 10:14, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
Why would Walker be re-issued the medal years after it had been rescinded? Seems to me it was political--perhaps President Carter did it as a vote-getting device for the female vote. This matter should be investigated. 2602:306:CEDF:1580:191A:6DEB:C6E8:6B89 (talk) 05:54, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

Some factual questions[edit]

Mary Walker’s American Civil War service is included in the section ‘Early life and education’ so perhaps a section ‘American Civil War’ would be appropriate. Does ‘she volunteered for the Union Army as a civilian’ mean she attempted to join the Union Army or did she offer her services as a surgeon to the Union Army. The statement that she worked as an unpaid field surgeon in Chattanooga after the Battle of Chickamauga is contradicted by the statement that she was employed by the Army of the Cumberland in September 1863. Can someone explain why an Union Army employee crossed ‘battle’ lines, treating enemy wounded and getting herself interned and more incredibly getting herself released and then crossing half the county to get back to the western theatre for the Battle of Atlanta. Atlanta fell three weeks after she was released from Richmond. Since Mary Walker never actually sought the MofH any letters of support from Generals Sherman and Thomas were unlikely to have been recommendations for the MofH. I think it more likely that on 11 November 1865, President Andrew Johnson approved a recommendation for the award of a Medal of Honor to Mary Walker rather than signed a bill into law. If it was a bill please give details. Anthony Staunton (talk) 10:50, 21 May 2012 (UTC)

Castle Thunder[edit]

Walker was kept prisoner in "Castle Thunder" in Richmond, Virginia, a converted tobacco warehouse used to house spies, traitors, etc. It had a reputation for extreme brutality and many of the prisoners were executed. 2602:306:CEDF:1580:D860:A04C:C85A:37FD (talk) 10:55, 16 July 2012 (UTC)

I thought that she would have been held at Whitlock's Warehouse rather than the converted tobacco warehouse. Anthony Staunton (talk) 12:05, 16 July 2012 (UTC)
Good catch. Castle Thunder consisted of three adjoining buildings on Cary Street (Tobacco Row). Whitlock's Warehouse could hold about 350 prisoners, and these were women and blacks. Gleanor's Tobacco Factory held about 650 and these were Confederate deserters and political prisoners. Palmer's Factory held about 400 and these were Union deserters and POW's. The prison held about 100 women over its history, for an average of 6 months. Mary Walker was exchanged after 4 months. The prison burned down in 1879 after being returned to its heirs. It was built to house 1400 prisoners but housed 3,000. Prevalent diseases were smallpox and dysentery, so perhaps Walker helped out with her medical experience. The women's prison was for "depraved and abandoned women", as stated at the time. The April 22, 1864 Richmond Sentinel described Mary Walker thus: "We must not admit to add that she is skinny and ugly...". Walker was captured on April 10, 1864 dressed as a man, claiming she was "on neutral ground". (I was not aware there was "neutral ground" in the Civil War, so maybe this was an excuse she made up.) She was released on a prisoner exchange Aug. 12, 1864. Another prisoner held there that was awarded the Medal of Honor was William Jackson Palmer, a Union General. Adding data about Walker in Castle Thunder would improve the article and add to her descriptive nature. I'm sure there's a lot of info that could be dug up to unveil her personality. Apparently there were numerous women who dressed and fought as men in the Civil War. --Was this a social convention at the time? I seem to recall Walker being arrested for dressing as a man. 2602:306:CEDF:1580:2571:FF33:C65D:8550 (talk) 04:37, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
I came across some more info--the prison officials would not allow Walker to treat prisoners. She herself became ill at the prison (don't know what it was yet) which gave her vision problems which prevented her from practicing medicine later in life. 2602:306:CEDF:1580:191A:6DEB:C6E8:6B89 (talk) 05:37, 17 July 2012 (UTC)


The USA made a 20 cent stamp of Mary Walker in 1982. Perhaps a picture of the stamp could be added to the article. 2602:306:CEDF:1580:2571:FF33:C65D:8550 (talk) 04:48, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

1500 Medals of Honor in Civil War[edit]

I did a quick check and most Medals of Honor were awarded for the Civil War, about 1500 of them. Compare this to the number awarded in WWII--about 500. So apparently the rules for getting the Medal of Honor in the Civil War were slack, nowhere near the restrictive parameters of today. In fact in those days you could recommend yourself for the Medal of Honor. 2602:306:CEDF:1580:2571:FF33:C65D:8550 (talk) 04:58, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

In the Civil War the Medal of Honor was the only award establsihed. Today there are many awards in addition to the Medal of Honor. Two things have not changed. It takes a very long time to process an award and you can still recommend yourself for the Medal of Honor. Anthony Staunton (talk) 01:09, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
That's very interesting. I was in the military. You mean I could nominate myself for the Medal of Honor? How would I go about that? Is there a site on the Internet I could visit for info? I have a suspicion that you could be wrong, otherwise there'd be thousands of self-nominations. 2602:306:CEDF:1580:295A:1B77:961B:BC89 (talk) 02:56, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
I checked, there's only been 13 Medals of Honor given out since the Vietnam War, so the self-nomination process seems counter-intuitive. (talk) 03:31, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
Okay, here's what I found out: On June 26, 1897, President William McKinley instructed that a submission for the Medal of Honor be made by someone other than the nominee and that there be one or more witnesses to the heroic act in question. (It seems some 700 Civil War veterans had applied for the Medal of Honor since 1890, more than had been awarded the Medal all during the Civil War.) In the 1917 purge of the Medal of Honor Rolls, 911 recipients were struck from the rolls, all of their records being reviewed in an anonymous fashion to prevent discrimination. Thus Buffalo Bill Cody lost his Medal of Honor as well as Mary Walker. (Also, prior to March 3, 1915, only enlisted persons could receive the Medal, no officers allowed.) The rules for the Medal of Honor were originally extremely loose. 2602:306:CEDF:1580:CC11:91D9:FE6D:B049 (talk) 04:02, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
More confusion: I was reading the list of Medal of Honor recipients during the Indian Wars and a lot of them were officers; I thought awardees had to be enlisted men until 1915. 2602:306:CEDF:1580:34C9:BE7B:FCEA:4CF7 (talk) 06:45, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
Only enlisted persons could receive the MoH initially; then on March 3, 1863 Army officers could be awarded the MoH; then on March 3, 1915 Navy, Marine and Coast Guard officers could receive it. (talk) 09:03, 12 June 2013 (UTC)


There's a book about Walker called "Dr. Mary Walker--The Little Lady In Pants", Charles M. Snyder, 1974, New York, Arno Press. I haven't read it, perhaps someone with a copy could add to the article, seems to me it would have a lot of good information. 2602:306:CEDF:1580:191A:6DEB:C6E8:6B89 (talk) 05:50, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

Mary Walker[edit]

 I must know...Did Mary Walker give any contribution to scientific discovery? You see, I was assigned to write a report on Mary Walker, and I have to include at least one thing that she contributed to science. She was a great women and most certainly did plenty for women's rights! But this report is for my science class, so...  — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:29, 21 September 2013 (UTC) 

why were the awards revoked?[edit]

the article doesn't say the reason why the medals that were revoked. leaving that question uncovered makes it seem arbitrary.

i saw something that said that it was because she and the other didn't serve in combat roles.

that's a reason, if it's true.

if the reasons are lost to history, the article should say so.

2601:6:5600:BE9C:DD35:CE77:66DB:11A8 (talk) 04:48, 20 February 2015 (UTC) Michael Christian

Mary Walker was one of six civilians whose name were deleted from the Medal of Honor Roll designed to ascertain which veterans were eligible for a Medal of Honor pension. Civilians then and now are ineligible for the MofH. The Navy awarded the pension to all recipients including many who were awarded the medal for peacetime bravery. The aim of the Army was to delete the 864 names of the 27th Maine of whom more than 500 received medals as a result of administrative incompetence. Another group of awards deleted were those awarded to the Lincoln escort who accompanied his body to Springfield. All six civilians were eventually added to the list of Army recipients but it was decided not to recover the 911 medals from the 910 recipients whose names were not added to the pension list. Anthony Staunton (talk) 11:04, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Did Generals William Tecumseh Sherman and George Henry Thomas recommend Walker for the Medal of Honor[edit]

Is there any evidence to support the statement 'After the war, Walker was recommended for the Medal of Honor by Generals William Tecumseh Sherman and George Henry Thomas'. Walker was not campaigning for the Medal of Honor but for a commission in the US Army. She had testimonials from Generals William Tecumseh Sherman and George Henry Thomas but is there material on what the testimonials recommended.Anthony Staunton (talk) 10:56, 6 January 2016 (UTC)

Earlier tonight I made a minor change to the article. Pity I got the century wrong in the edit summary! But I notice the first sentence of the section 'American Civil War' reads 'At the beginning of the American Civil War, she volunteered for the Union Army as a civilian'. She did not need to volunteer to be a civilian since she already was a civilian. I suggest that 'In 1861, she volunteered to be a surgeon in the Union Army and was rejected because she was a woman'. Anthony Staunton (talk) 13:18, 6 January 2016 (UTC)

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