Friday, February 23, 2018

Cathay Williams Only Woman Buffalo Soldier U.S. Army.jpg
African Americans in Times of War - Black Women in the Military: Cathay Williams (September 1844 – 1893) was an American soldier who enlisted in the United States Army under the pseudonym William Cathay. She was the first African-American woman to enlist, and the only documented to serve in the United States Army posing as a man. Williams was born in Independence, Missouri to a free man and a woman in slavery, making her legal status also that of a slave. During her adolescence, Williams worked as a house slave on the Johnson plantation on the outskirts of Jefferson City, Missouri.
In 1861 Union forces occupied Jefferson City in the early stages of the Civil War. Despite the prohibition against women serving in the military, Cathay Williams enlisted in the United States Regular Army under the false name of "William Cathay on November 15, 1866 at St. Louis, Missouri for a three-year engagement, passing herself off as a man. She was assigned to the 38th United States Infantry Regiment after she passed a cursory medical examination. Only two others are known to have been privy to the deception, her cousin and a friend, both of whom were fellow soldiers in her regiment. Shortly after her enlistment, Williams contracted smallpox, was hospitalized and rejoined her unit, which by then was posted in New Mexico. Possibly due to the effects of smallpox, the New Mexico heat, or the cumulative effects of years of marching, her body began to show signs of strain. She was frequently hospitalized. The post surgeon finally discovered she was a woman and informed the post commander. She was discharged from the Army by her commanding officer, Captain Charles E. Clarke on October 14, 1868.
#BlackHistoryMonthHHC #Sheshereforit

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