Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, the only female recipient of the Medal of Honor for outstanding service as a surgeon during the U. S. Civil War, recently visited with the members and guests of USS Carbonero Base, Chattanooga.
Dr. Walker, portrayed by Chattanooga and Hamilton County Historian Linda Moss Mines, shared the story of her efforts to join the U. S. Army as a surgeon prior to the war and her subsequent acceptance to the military corps, serving with exceptional courage and distinction during the Battle of Chickamauga and the Chattanooga Campaign.
Nominated for the Medal of Honor by Major General William Tecumseh Sherman and the “Rock of Chickamauga”, Major General George Henry Thomas, Dr. Walker appeared as a somewhat ‘non-traditional’ figure on the battlefield with her adoption of trousers and a top hat as a part of her uniform and her willingness to treat the wounded from both sides of the conflict. Her outspoken arguments for more humane treatment of the wounded and her unwillingness to resort to amputation until all other methods had been considered often put her at odds with her male colleagues, but Dr. Walker advocated for treatments which would allow the veterans to return to their prewar lives whole and able to resume farming or industrial labor. A graduate of Syracuse University Medical School, Dr. Walker was the second woman in U. S. history to be licensed as a physician and the first as a surgeon.
The USS Carbonero Base, led by Commander Allen Syler, is named for the World War II submarine, the USS Carbonero SS-337. All members are U. S. Navy veterans who served aboard diesel and/or nuclear-powered submarines and earned, through qualification, the Submarine Warfare Badge, primarily during the Cold War. Al Smith, a World War II plankowner and veteran, is the oldest member of the base. The base is part of the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc., with 154 bases worldwide and exists “To perpetuate the memory of our shipmates who gave their lives in the pursuit of their duties while serving their country - - That their dedication, deeds, and supreme sacrifice be a constant source of motivation toward greater accomplishments.”
Ms. Mines serves as the vice-president for Education and Programming for the Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center, secretary of the Chattanooga Area Veterans Council and as a vice-regent of the Chief John Ross Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.
Groups interested in programs related to Chattanooga and Hamilton County History or the Medal of Honor can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.