Cathay Williams - Became the first and the only known female Buffalo Soldier. Enlisting in the US Regular Army 1866 at St. Louis, Missouri for a three year engagement, passing herself off as a man.
She is the first African American female to enlist, and the only documented to serve in the United States Army posing as a man under the pseudonym, William Cathay.
Williams travelled with the 8th Indiana, accompanying the soldiers on their marches through Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia. She was present at the Battle of Pea Ridge and the Red River Campaign. At one time she was transferred to Little Rock, where she would have seen uniformed African-American men serving as soldiers, which may have inspired her own interest in military service. Later, Williams was transferred to Washington, D.C., where she served with General Philip Sheridan’s command. When the war ended, Williams was working at Jefferson Barracks.
The exact date of Williams’ death is unknown, but it is assumed she died shortly after being denied a pension, probably sometime in 1892. Her simple grave marker would have been made of wood and deteriorated long ago. Thus her final resting place is now unknown.