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George Hawkins
Do No Harm
Do No Harm. A Historical Novel By George J. Hawkins The story of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker began on an upstate New York farm, Oswego Co., November 26, 1832 and ended there, February 21, 1919. During the intervening 86 years, she graduated with honors from Syracuse Medical College (only woman in her class), got married and divorced, was a physician-surgeon in fierce Civil War battles of Fredericksburg, Chickamauga and others. In 1864 she was a Confederate prisoner of war at Richmond, VA. On November 11, 1865, she was awarded a Medal of Honor by President Andrew Johnson. To date, Mary E. Walker is the only female recipient of the MOH. Walker was a pioneering suffragist, advocating for women’s rights, especially the right to vote. Non-traditional parenting nurtured Mary's spirit of independence and sense of justice that she actively demonstrated throughout her life. Other causes that captured her interest and energy were female dress reform, temperance, and the abolition of slavery. After the Civil War, she travelled the world speaking about her wartime experiences and advocating for women’s rights. Over the years the effects of her battlefield trauma began taking its toll. Slowly, her hostile, antagonistic behavior alienated her from leading women’s rights activists of her day. Following the deaths of her parents, in her 80’s, she moved back to the Oswego farm. Adding insult to the injuries of aging, her MOH was revoked by an Army review board in 1917. She refused to give it up. Walker died, age 86, February 21, 1919. Her deathbed wish was that she be buried with the MOH over her heart. Walker and her medal were laid to rest at the Oswego, NY county cemetery. In 1977, her MOH was posthumously reinstated.