Why A Wartime Cross-Dresser and Others Should Be Honored By The US Military

In Art Collecting

Many female soldiers from across the globe acted as “wartime cross-dressers,” hoping to engage in otherwise male-dominated warfare (Glasrud & Searles 1). The most notable African American soldier that exhibited such characteristics, based on studies, was Private Cathay Williams. This particular personality rose into fame in the year 1844 when she disguised herself as a man, thereby enabling her to act as one of the U.S Army at the time. She is, as compared to other warriors, regarded as a courageous individual who was ready to defend her country regardless of her gender identity in whichever the circumstance. From a historical perspective, it is evident that her courage, determination, and hard work could have emanated from her slavery background, where according to available information, her parents were slaves in a place called Missouri (Glasrud & Searles 7). In addition to Private Cathay Williams, studies have shown how other African Americans like Peter Salem contributed to the American Revolutionary confrontation between the 1750s and 1816. The main intention of this blog is, therefore, to ascertain the reasons why the United States, as a country, should honor Private Cathay Williams and other feminine personalities who tirelessly got involved in the war.


Laws Force Private Cathay Williams To Be A Cross-Dresser in the US Military

As already stated, Private Cathay Williams portrayed a unique and somewhat rare character, particularly when she decided to fake her gender identity to participate in the war. Just like other characters at the time, a series of research works have shown how she wanted to defend her country against the intruders (Willis 11). There are, in this regard, compelling reasons as to why Private Cathay Williams should get a federal base or statues after displaying such a bravery action. First of all, this particular warrior emerged from a poor family background and, after that, become a vibrant military cook at only seventeen years, a position or a job previously reserved for exclusively male characters. She, as depicted by studies, served in this capacity diligently while at the same time witnessing various occurrences in particular “Battle of Pea Ridge” and “Red River Campaign.” As a personality, I believe the mentioned character should receive state an honor through a statue based on the fact that he went against all the odds by providing various basic needs like food and clothing for the male fighters. Through her contribution, her masculine counterparts were, for example, able to sustain themselves during a situation that enabled them to confront the potential enemies with courage and fortitude. In addition, Private Cathay Williams should get honored by a federal base or statue because, as already stated, she served as the first feminine character in the US military. Regardless of barring women from engaging in warfare-related services, it is portrayed through various forms of researches that Cathay forced herself into the action, intending to provide relevant facilities to her country (Willis 23). To ensure she succeeds in her overall mission of becoming a militant or warrior, she opted to fake her personal identity on 15th November 1866 by the name “Cathay William.” She eventually became the leading female of the African American descendant to have involved or participated in such a war in the United States. Peter Salem was, on the other hand, an essential soldier in the United States that immensely contributed to what we call American Revolutionary War from the 1750s to the 1800s. His service in various states in the country earned recognition as the most outstanding African Americans in the military (Tucker 19). He, unlike his soldier counterparts, confronted the enemy with diligence and bravery.

Williams Cathay’s honor should also be based on her struggle with various forms of illnesses immediately after leaving the military. Unlike other individuals of her time, it is evident through studies that she effectively fought the war to the extent of contracting lifestyle diseases in particular diabetes. As depicted by Glasrud & Searles (2015), it is also during such a period where she acquired smallpox-related complications. This particular situation, from the look of things, requires someone who is courageous and determined – a character portrayed by Private Cathay Williams at the time. Irrespective of her disability status, she, on the other hand, continued with the task of realizing the formation of “an emerging all-black regiment,” a deal that helped to appreciate or comprehend the “legendary Buffalo Soldiers (Tucker 2).” In my opinion, Cathay qualifies for receiving the honor as the most outstanding female personality who, regardless of her physical condition, succeeded in displaying the powers associated with African American women, particularly in recognizing their general ambitions in life.

Vincent Keele

There exist many artists who have, since the ancient times, honored the works of various African Americans in particular Private Cathay Williams and Peter Salem (Glasrud & Searles 17). Vincent Keele is one of the artists who have honored Cathay for her outstanding performance, specifically in military services. In his painting entitled “Buffalo Soldier Private Cathay Williams,” I think the stated artist wanted to depict the role played by the militant during the U.S Civil War. The sculpture, according to visual representation, reveals the image of a feminine soldier standing in the middle with a sword.

William Jennings

Besides, William Jennings, who was also an artist at the time, painted a self-portrait of “Cathay Williams” from a fictional perspective. The mentioned artists, according to available information, illustrated Cathay when standing with a military-based suit and, at the same time, carrying a sword. This particular portrait reveals how, as a society, we discourage the involvement of females in warfare and related services because they are portrayed as weak and unreliable, particularly when dispensing revolutionary services. Both Vincent and Jennings, as artistic personalities, incorporated the use of figurative and cubist styles in their creation. The nature of such representation, based on my perspective, ascertain the powers of a woman in the course of the war. The artists, however, used the combination of varied artistic elements, including color, shape, and form – with the primary intention of attracting the members of the public.

Shane McCrae's Poem

Besides fine arts, many artists also honoured the contribution of both Private Cathay Williams and Peter Salem through the use of another form of art, including songs and poems. The reputation Cathay Williams in matters of the military was, for example, portrayed in a poem called "The Ballad of Cathay Williams William Cathay" by Shane McCrae.

A white man wouldn't less

He stripped me naked was

Whipping me know

I was a woman   got

A name just turn

It inside out

And I'm a man

How else I'm gonna know myself

When I am called

A white man wouldn't twice I had

Smallpox twice after     I enlisted

twice and had / To be

hospitalized both times

Ain't never once

no doctor nor no nurse

Discovered me

No for no white woman

I wouldn't have

nothing for her to see

She would want me to know she seen

And I was watching close

How else I'm gone to know myself

When I am called

And what she see is anyway

how is she gonna know for sure

Black man ain't got

a hole down there

How is she know he ain't

A white man born wrong inside out

and twice as big and mean

And got a hole go twice as deep to hell

How is that woman sure

of anything at all

How else I'm etc


In the piece, the poet tried to ascertain the determination of the stated warrior and how she managed to outnumber some of her masculine counterparts. Through this particular, the human generation can learn more about the uniqueness of the enlisted militant while at the same time understanding how cultural norms affected the whereabouts of female characters in society.

Honoring Soldiers Who Have Been Forgotten

I think honoring African American soldiers like Private Cathay Williams means a lot to me as well as the society at large as the overall process will help to appreciate and reflect on what they did to us as humanity. The honor, in this respect, helps to establish the reputation of feminine warriors and their importance in ensuring peaceful coexistence among people. Such recognition also acts as a future modification ground, especially for the upcoming champions where they will, unlike the previous regime, feel like part of the broader community (Tucker 3). The provision of honoring to female characters may also help to portray the equality of human generation regardless of one’s religion, family status, and more critical gender.

Works Cited

Glasrud B & Searles M, “Buffalo Soldiers in the West: A Black Soldiers Anthology.” 2015. Studies in American Political Development.

Willis D, “The Black Civil War Soldier: Conflict and Citizenship.” 2017. Journal of American Studies.

Tucker P, “Cathy Williams: From Slave to Female Buffalo Soldier.” 2018. The American Historical Review.