President Andrew Johnson Pardons a Medical Officer and Surgeon Who Ran a Convalescent Hospital and Spa for Confederate Soldiers

A condition of the pardon was that the recipient swear off having slaves or using their labor

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This is the first Johnson pardon for Confederate service or activities issued to a physician that we have ever seen

Dr. William T. Walker was born in Goochland County, Va. and graduated in medicine from the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia in 1847. He practiced for years in his native county. During...

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President Andrew Johnson Pardons a Medical Officer and Surgeon Who Ran a Convalescent Hospital and Spa for Confederate Soldiers

A condition of the pardon was that the recipient swear off having slaves or using their labor

This is the first Johnson pardon for Confederate service or activities issued to a physician that we have ever seen

Dr. William T. Walker was born in Goochland County, Va. and graduated in medicine from the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia in 1847. He practiced for years in his native county. During the Civil War, he was surgeon and chief medical officer in the Huguenot Springs Hospital, a convalescent facility and spa for Confederate soldiers. Trains brought patients there from Richmond hospitals via the Richmond and Danville Railroad, where they were transferred to wagons for transportation to the hospital. Local women served as nurses. Buried in its cemetery are the remains of more than 250 soldiers, who died of both disease and battle wounds. Dr. Walker moved to Lynchburg in the 1880s. He was a member of the Medical Society of Virginia and delivered the Annual Address to the Public and Profession during the session in Roanoke in 1889. Near the end of his life, he was President of the Lynchburg Academy of Medicine.

With the war just concluded, Dr. Walker sought a presidential pardon, as many did. Such a pardon was required for anyone who took part in the war, and although Walker had not fought, he was nonetheless considered to have served the cause.

Document signed, Washington, July 3, 1865, signed by President Andrew Johnson and William Seward as Secretary of State, pardoning Walker. “Whereas W.T. Walker of Goochland County, Virginia, by taking part in the late rebellion against the Government of the United States, has made himself liable to heavy pains and penalties; And whereas the circumstances of his case render him a proper object of Executive clemency; Now therefore let it be known that I, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States of America, in consideration of the premises, diverse other good and sufficient reasons me thereunto moving, do hereby grant to the said W.T. Walker a full pardon and amnesty for all offenses by him committed and arising from participation, direct or implied, in the said rebellion, conditioned as follows: this pardon to begin and take effect from the day on which the said W.T. Walker shall take the oath prescribed in the Proclamation of the President dated May 29th, 1865, and to be void and of no effect if the said W.T. Walker shall hereafter, at any time, acquire any property whatever in slaves, or make use of slave labor; and that he first pay all costs which may have accrued in any proceedings hither instituted against his person or property….” It is interesting to note that the condition of the pardon was that the recipient swear off having slaves or using their labor.

This is the first Johnson pardon for Confederate service or activities issued to a physician that we have ever seen. A fascinating rarity, parting the curtain on the behind-the-lines hospitals that treated Confederate soldiers.

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