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Food & History

The missing medal of honor

In April 1864, Capt. Benedict Semmes, CSA, captured an — unusual prisoner. "She was dressed in the full uniform of a Federal surgeon. — She was not very good looking and she had tongue enough for a regiment — of men." Semmes' shock in understandable. His prisoner was Mary Edwards — Walker, M.D., the first women ever assigned as a surgeon by the U.S. military — and later the first woman to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Born on a New York farm on Nov. 26, 1832, Mary spent her — whole life breaking the rules. She refused to wear a dress. She wore trousers. — They were more comfortable. She also invaded the male dominated medical — profession by earning an M.D. from Syracuse Medical College in June 1855, — becoming the seventh female physician in the United States.

When she married Dr. Albert Miller, a fellow student she — had met in college, Mary made a minor concession to femininity. She wore — a wedding gown over her trousers. But she kept her own name.

They established a joint practice, but separated in 1860. — Miller left for California, putting a whole continent between them.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Walker rushed to — Washington and applied for a commission as an Army surgeon. The request — was denied. Women did not serve in the armed forces! Mary worked as a — voluntary nurse while still badgering Secretary of War Stanton for that — commission. Finally, Stanton gave her a job. He wanted to get her out — of town. He hired her for $80 a month as assistant surgeon for the 52nd — Ohio Regiment fighting around Chattanooga, Tenn. Walker disobeyed more — rules when she went out into the countryside to treat ill rebel families, — using government-issued medical supplies. On one of these unauthorized — mercy missions, she was captured.

Walker was a POW for about four months, then exchanged — for a Confederate surgeon with the rank of major. Mary now demanded a — major's commission. She was as valuable as that rebel! She offered to — raise a regiment, "Walker's U.S. Patriots," from inmates in U.S. prisons. — Newspapers applauded her unconventional offer. Stanton did not need a — regiment of hardened criminals. He shipped her off to work in a military — hospital in Missouri.

But Stanton did nominate her for a medal for "rendering — valuable service to the government." It has long been rumored that her — mercy missions also gathered intelligence for General Sherman. President — Andrew Johnson signed it on Nov. 11, 1865, and the medal was presented — in 1866.

Within a few months, Dr. Walker was making $150 a week — on stage, wearing a man's suit with her Congressional Medal of Honor pinned — in the lapel. Her speeches blasted the male-dominated society, demanding — more opportunities for women.

In 1917, Congress completed a lengthly review of all recipients — of the Medal of Honor. Nine hundred eleven names were removed from the — Roll of Honor. Mary E. Walker's name was one of those expunged. When a — messanger came to tell her she had to turn it in, the 85-year-old spitfire — told him: "You can have it, over my dead body!" and continued to wear — it proudly until her death on Fenruary 21, 1919.

On June 10, 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed a decree — restoring the Congressional Medal of Honor to Mary Edwards Walker, M.D., — civilian surgeon, 52nd Ohio Regiment, U.S. Army, 1863.

Sweet Potato Pie is a southern treat everyone enjoys.


1 unbaked pie shell

2 cups canned sweet potatoes

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon nutmeg

3 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons brandy


Using hand mixer, combine all ingredients. Pour into pie — shell, bake at 350 degrees for about 55 minuts or until a knife inserted — in center comes out clean.