Army Scrubs Fort A.P. Hill, Renaming Base in Honor of Female Medal of Honor Recipient

Doctor Mary Walker, the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor
Doctor Mary Walker, the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor. (Library of Congress photo)

Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia was redesignated Friday as Fort Walker to honor Dr. Mary Walker, the only female Medal of Honor recipient, who earned the medal for heroics treating wounded troops in the Civil War while under fire.

Fort Walker, a small Virginia Army installation that serves as one of the main training grounds for National Guard units in the region, had been named in honor of a Confederate general who waged war against the U.S.

The move comes after seven other installations have been scrubbed of their namesakes honoring Confederate figures who seceded from the U.S., largely to grow and protect the slave trade, spurring the Civil War.

Read Next: After Years of Delays, Army Releases New Suicide Prevention Plan Short on Answers

Walker was the first female surgeon for the Union Army, often serving near the frontlines during major battles in Maryland and Virginia. She often went beyond the frontlines to treat wounded Confederates and civilians caught in the crossfire.

In 1864, Walker was captured by rebel troops after helping another doctor amputate a limb, and she was a prisoner of war for four months until she was released in a prisoner exchange.

The renaming of Army bases was ordered by Congress and followed by a commission study under the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin officially ordered the bases and other military property to be renamed in October following months of base visits and community input.

Some of the largest Army installations in the country were rechristened this year, including Fort Cavazos in Texas, previously known as Fort Hood, and Fort Liberty in North Carolina, previously Fort Bragg. Fort Gordon, Georgia, is the last base still slated to be redesignated and is set to be renamed after President Dwight Eisenhower on Oct. 27.

Other than Fort Liberty, the bases were renamed after decorated service members and important historical figures.

Walker was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Andrew Johnson after the Civil War for her service.

But that medal was the only award at the time in the military and it was taken away from her, along with 900 other veterans, in 1916 after a government review of eligibility. Her medal was reinstated by President Jimmy Carter.

"[She] devoted herself with much patriotic zeal to the sick and wounded soldiers, both in the field and hospitals, to the detriment of her own health, and has also endured hardships as a prisoner of war four months in a Southern prison while acting as contract surgeon," the citation reads.

Walker was a suffragette and advocated for so-called "dress reform." She famously always wore men's clothing, arguing it's more hygienic and practical. She was even arrested in New Orleans in 1870 for dressing like a man. Walker had a failed House and Senate bid in the late 19th century but testified before the Congress on women's rights.

She died in 1919 at 86 years old. She was buried in a suit instead of a dress.

Ambrose Powell Hill Jr., or A.P. Hill -- the base's former namesake -- was a relatively highly regarded general among the rebel forces. He was killed in combat during the Third Battle of Petersburg just a week before the Confederacy surrendered.

-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

Related: These Southern National Guard Units to Toss Confederate Battle Streamers

Story Continues