I decided to do this writeup after reading the Bacon Number node, a rather hilarious comment on the peculiar tradition of relating all know actors to Kevin Bacon. I mean, unless you're an American history geek, this guy is a complete unknown (and the way he is connected to the Bacon node is no longer relevant), but this is everything, right?
William Rufus Shafter (1835-1906) is sometimes called the real 'Pecos Bill,' probably because of his prolific involvement in much of American and Old West history. Growing up on his father's farm in Michigan, Shafter was quick to join a local regiment when the Civil War broke out. After participating in a couple campaigns he was captured in Tennesse and spent several months in a confederate prison. After his release he served first as a an officer in the Seventeenth United States Colored Infantry and then as the lieutenant colonel of the all black Twenty-fourth United States Infantry. When the war was over he spent many years in various positions leading infantry against hostile Indians, eventually culminating his military career by leading the largest military force to ever leave American soil into Cuba during the Spanish-American war.
In his time he was known for his extreme bulk, being a strict disciplinarian and was commended with a medal of honor for being wounded in battle during the Civil War. He was promoted to the rank of major general shortly before he retired in 1901.