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James Monroe Williams
*James M. Williams was born on this date in 1833. He was a white-American lawyer, soldier, and merchant.
James Monroe Williams was from Lowville (Lewis County), New York. Before the start of the American Civil War, he was employed as a lawyer in his hometown. On July 12, 1861, Williams entered the Union Army as a captain in the 5th Kansas Cavalry Regiment and was appointed commander of Company F.
The unit was organized at Leavenworth, Kansas, beginning that summer and into January of the following year. Williams and his regiment served in the Department of Kansas through June 1862 and then with the Department of Missouri that July.
Williams resigned in the fall of 1862 to help organize and train the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry Regiment. The unit was raised that August at Fort Scott, Kansas, and he appointed its commander as a state militia colonel. He led his regiment into battle on October 29 during the Skirmish at Island Mound in Bates County, Missouri, the first-ever instance of Union Army colored soldiers in action. He was commissioned a Union Army lieutenant colonel on January 13, 1863, when his regiment was federalized as the 79th Regiment Infantry U.S. Colored Troops. On May 2, Williams was promoted to the rank of colonel, and on July 1-2, he fought at the Battle of Cabin Creek in the Indian Territory. About two weeks later, he led his regiment during the Battle of Honey Springs, and Williams was wounded in this fight.
In December 1863, Williams was assigned command of Roseville, Arkansas, in the District of the Frontier, Department of Missouri, and he participated in the Camden Expedition in southern and central Arkansas from March 23 to May 2, 1864. He then exercised brigade command at various times in the District of the Frontier and in the VII Corps for the remainder of 1864 through the fall of 1865. Williams and the 79th Regiment Infantry also fought at the Battle of Fort Smith in western Arkansas on July 31, 1864. On October 1, 1865, Williams was mustered out of the volunteer service. He was also commissioned as a captain in the 8th U.S. Cavalry Regiment of the Regular Army on July 28, 1866, commanding Company I.
The 8th Cavalry was initially based out of Fort Whipple in the Arizona Territory but later stationed at Fort Selden and Fort Bayard, both in the New Mexico Territory. Williams was brevetted a major on July 9, 1867, for his service during the Indian Wars. He resigned his commission on March 29, 1873, and took up ranching work in the Colorado Territory. Williams re-entered the army nearly two decades later, joining the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment as a captain on January 7, 1891, and retired five days later to become a merchant. James Monroe Williams died in Washington, D.C., on February 15, 1907, and was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.