Your network editor has reposted this from H-Announce. The byline reflects the original authorship.
Thanks for these links and your comments. I agree with you that Dr. Walker had mental issues later in life though that doesn't change her bravery and tireless commitment to her country during the Civil War. The letter you cite in which she indicated she held the rank of first lieutenant was written in 1916, when she was 83. When Dr. Walker was assigned to the 52nd Ohio Volunteers, her pay was the "equivalent of a lieutenant's salary," according to the biography "Dr. Mary Walker, An American Radical, 1832-1919" by Sharon M. Harris (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009), p. 52.
For those who may find it of some interest, TV's History Channel presented an early story of the American pioneer experience in settling Kentucky and the Continent last evening. Called the Frontiersmen, it attempted to tell the story of Boone's founding of Boonesboro within larger context of the American Revolution and his encounters with Shawnee Indians.
The three women in my family whom I have chosen to profile as part of this project series are my maternal grandmother, my mother, and myself. All three have a different story to tell , but each stands on the shoulders of the one who came before them. I am focusing upon the educational opportunities and career choices that each made and the goals they pursued. The two most distinguishing things in my family are education and faith. Several generations of women in my family have pursued education and given back to their communities.
Ok, here's my attempt to link a few pertinent files. Walker claimed to hold the rank of first lieutenant on both the 1916 MoH roll/pension reply I mentioned earlier, as well as least one other official pension application in 1912 (which was rejected). That is problematic, since she knew very well that she did not hold that rank-- she asked for a retroactive brevet/commission at the war's conclusion, and the reply from the War Dept. was an unequivocal rejection.
Ok, I found the source. It's her own response to the MoH roll determination in early 1916, which I pulled from the National Archives. She signs it "Mary E. Walker, M.D., A. A. Surgeon in War of 1861-5 with rank of 1st Lieutenant." PM me and I'll send you the photograph, as I'm uncertain how to post it here. NARA (DC), RG 94, E496, W-2068-vs-1863, letter of May 24, 1916.
I'll dig through my files to see if I can find it, but a quick search reveals that several books (the one the thread is referencing as well as at least one modern book) reference her as a first lieutenant. She obviously was not a first lieutenant, and to the best of my recollection she was the source of the claim. She wrote the War Dept.
Emily P. Beeler was born in 1860, probably in Lebanon, Marion County, Kentucky, the daughter of Christopher and Mary E. Beeler. Emily Beeler became a kindergarten teacher, perhaps because she aspired not only to teach children, but also to lead an independent, autonomous, and useful life as a single woman.
Just saw this notice come by about the fabulous new book from University Press of Kentucky— using his own translations from French of the letters among the fascinating Mentelle family...
The Mentelles: Mary Todd Lincoln, Henry Clay, and the Immigrant Family Who Educated Antebellum Kentucky
“She was a tiny woman, as little and quick as a sparrow, with warm blue eyes
behind spectacles and a little sparrow colored bun of hair at her neck.
She was changeless and ageless.”
- Martha Gellhorn