Episode 5 – Cathay Williams


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Private William Cathay joined the famed Buffalo Soldiers in 1866.  This would be a typical enlistment of the period, except William was really Cathay, a woman!  She joined the U.S. Army 62 years before women were allowed to serve.  Listen to the amazing story of William Cathay, the first female Buffalo Soldier.


Cathay Williams Female Buffalo Soldier

This picture, painted by William Jennings, is the most famous image of Cathay Williams.  Contemporary images of Cathay do not exist, so Jennings painted a picture that captured the essence of the female Buffalo Soldier.

Newspaper text and poem

Cathay claim and rejection letter

Cathay disability discharge paper

Cathay Williams enlistment papers

Army reorganization act 1866

Episode note:  Jefferson Barracks, in St. Louis Missouri, mentioned in this episode,  still exists.  Fittingly, it is now one of the regional Veterans Administration centers.

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