I hope you've enjoyed this little journey into history.
You can see part one here and part two here.
For now, let me introduce you to our third heroine, Cathay Williams, who was a slave on a wealthy plantation in Independence, Missouri.
In 1868, Cathay grew ill. When the doctor examined her body, he discovered the shocking truth. Cathay was immediately discharged.
Afterwards, she moved to Colorado and became a laundress. She got married to a lowlife who stole her jewelry and her savings ($100, huge sum for that time period), and her team of horses and wagons. He was later arrested.
The rest of her life remains murky, as there was no proper documentation. Historians do know that some time in the 1890s, Cathay filed a disability claim, but was denied for unknown reasons. Medical records state that she suffered from diabetes, and had most of her toes amputated as a result.
She died of the condition around 1900.
Cathay was not the only woman to secretly serve in the Civil War. There are more than 400 cases where white women followed their husbands, fiances, and brothers into battle, disguised as men. But, Cathay is the only documented African American woman to have done so.
Without trying, Cathay became a legend, a symbol, of American history. Even though she may not have felt it, she was brave. Even though she may not have cared, she was a pioneer.
Her story is one of millions which have made the United States what it is today.
Here is an outfit inspired by the true Civil War hero:
What do you think of Cathay?