William Christy—First Casualty

Posted by Paul Rawlins on February 8, 2013 in Site, Content

In June 1867, William Christy, a farmer from Pennsylvania, enlisted in the 10th Cavalry. The 10th was a black regiment whose men would soon be referred to as “buffalo soldiers” after they were sent to take part in the Indian Wars of the latter 19th century.

Christy’s tenure with the unit was short. The 10th Cavalry’s regimental return for August 1867 notes that he was killed in action on August 2nd, the first buffalo soldier to die in combat.


From U.S., Buffalo Soldiers, Returns From Regular Army Cavalry Regiments, 1866-1916


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1 Peggy DerasFebruary 19, 2013 at 7:32 pm

I beg your pardon, but there are five soldiers on this list who died August 1st.

2 PaulFebruary 20, 2013 at 8:27 am


Ah, I should clarify. Christy is credited–if that’s the right word–with being the first buffalo soldier or first member of the 10th Cavalry to be killed in action. The record shown here is not enough on its own to establish that fact, and I was using this return in conjunction with historical accounts, including Captain Armes’s (who led the action) report.

The man who seems to get the short shrift by history, though, is the second man listed as killed in action that day, Thomas Smith. He is not mentioned along with Christy in most accounts, and I need to dig a bit deeper to find out whether he was killed in the long retreat that followed Christy’s death as the men made their way back to Fort Hays.

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