Some of those who served did so by disguising themselves as men.6 A number of women had served as spies, as was the case of Rose O'Neal Greenhow, who was arrested and imprisoned for supplying the Confederate Army with information, and Pauline Cushman, who was sentenced to be executed as a Union spy during the War Between the States.7 The first woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, Dr. Mary Walker, provided her services as a doctor free of charge to Union forces in Virginia and Tennessee.8 She had asked the Union Army to hire her as a doctor, but it refused.9 Despite its refusal to hire her, Dr. Walker continued to provide medical services to Union soldiers.10 Eventually, she was captured by Confederate soldiers.11 After her release from Confederate prison as part of a prisoner exchange, she was given an official position of "Acting Assistant Surgeon," the first woman to be given such a title.12 Dr. Walker received the Congressional Medal of Honor after the war.13 In 1917, however, the U.S. Congress attempted to remove the honor from her, stating that only those who fought in combat were entitled to the award.14 When the Congress decided that the Medal had been awarded in error, Walker refused to return the medal.15 Even after her death, Dr Walker's family continued to battle to resolve her status as a Medal of Honor recipient. [...] women were not afforded the right to vote in any state in any election before achieving the right to vote in school board elections in Kentucky in 1838.18 Passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 gave women the right to vote in national elections across the country.19 Similarly, women were not entitled to administer estates, own property, or enter into contract in their personal capacity.\n Perhaps it is unsurprising that, more than forty years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, members of the legislative branch, as well as those in positions to engender policy for and within the U.S. military, continue to limit opportunities for women in fields in which they have a proven competence.
Linda Strite Murnane,
Legal Impediments to Service: Women in the Military and the Rule of Law,
14 Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy
Available at: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/djglp/vol14/iss2/8