Private Cathay’s Secret depicts the determination and perseverance of a young slave girl, Cathay Williams. Thrust from her home on a Missouri plantation, she becomes a cook for the Union Army. Little does she realize this servitude throughout much of the Civil War will prepare her for her greatest challenge: impersonating a male soldier in the U. S. Army at the end of the war. Alongside her male companions, Williams endures hardships and performs her duties with them equally, during a time when women are not allowed to serve in the military. No one discovers her gender until she reveals it at the time of her discharge. Much has been written about the Buffalo Soldier 10th Cavalry, but infantry escapades are largely clouded in obscurity.
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