Pioneering female physician Mary Edwards Walker, the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor, volunteered as a medic during the Civil War, crossing combat lines while donning men’s clothing for mobility.
Mary Edwards Walker was the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor. She was born in upstate New York in 1832 to two abolitionists who believed in equal education for all their children. Mary attended Syracuse Medical College and became the only female doctor to graduate in her class. She volunteered to serve as a surgeon during the Civil War, but was initially rejected because of her gender. Mary persisted and eventually became the first female U.S. Army surgeon in 1863. During the war, she wore men’s clothes for mobility and was even captured and arrested as a spy by the Confederate army.