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Albert Cashier

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Albert D. J. Cashier
Albert-Cashier.jpg
(November, 1864)[1]
Birth name Jennie Irene Hodgers
Born (1843-12-25)December 25, 1843[2]
Clogherhead, County Louth, Ireland
Died October 10, 1915(1915-10-10) (aged 71)
Saunemin, Illinois, U.S.
Buried at Saunemin, Illinois, U.S.
Allegiance

United States of America

Service/branch

Seal of the United States Board of War and Ordnance.png United States Army

Years of service 1862–1865
Rank Private
Unit 95th Illinois Infantry, Company G
Battles/wars Vicksburg, Red River, Guntown
Other work Farmhand, janitor

Albert D. J. Cashier (December 25, 1843 – October 10, 1915), born Jennie Irene Hodgers, was an Irish-born immigrant who served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Cashier adopted the identity of a man before enlisting, and maintained it for most of the remainder of her life. She became famous as one of a number of women soldiers who served as men during the Civil War; her consistent and long-term commitment to the male identity has also prompted some scholars to suggest that Cashier was a trans man.[3][4][5][6]

Early life

Hodgers was born in Clogherhead, County Louth, Ireland on December 25, around the year 1843.[7][2] According to later investigation by the administrator of her estate, she was the child of Sallie and Patrick Hodgers. Hodgers's later accounts of how she moved to the United States and why she enlisted were taken when she was elderly and disoriented, and she was also typically evasive about her earlier life; therefore, these narratives are contradictory.[2] Typically, she was said to have been dressed in boy's clothing by her stepfather in order to find work. Even before the advent of the war, Hodgers adopted the identity of Albert Cashier to work.[7] Her mother died sometime in her youth, and by 1862, Hodgers had traveled as a stowaway to Illinois and was living in Belvidere.[8]

Enlistment

Hodgers first enlisted in July 1862 after President Lincoln's call for soldiers.[7] As time passed, the need for soldiers only increased. On August 6, 1862, she enlisted in the 95th Illinois Infantry for a three-year term using the name "Albert Cashier" and was assigned to Company G.[9][10][7] A company catalog lists Cashier as nineteen years old upon enlistment, a farmer from New York City, 5 feet 3 inches tall, blue-eyed, and of a fair complexion.[11]

During the war

The regiment was part of the Army of the Tennessee under Ulysses S. Grant and fought in approximately forty battles,[10] including the siege at Vicksburg. This campaign proved to be a challenge for Cashier, as she was captured while performing reconnaissance.[12] Cashier managed to escape, however, and make her way back to the regiment. After the Battle of Vicksburg, in June 1863, Cashier contracted chronic diarrhea and entered a military hospital. Somehow, she evaded detection.[13]

The regiment was also present at the Red River Campaign and the combat at Guntown, Mississippi, where they suffered heavy casualties.[14] Throughout the war, the regiment traveled a total of about 9,000 miles during its term.[7] Other soldiers thought that Cashier was small and preferred to be alone, which were not uncommon characteristics for soldiers. Cashier fought with the regiment through the war until August 17, 1865, when all the soldiers were mustered out. Cashier was honorably discharged on August 17, 1865.[15]

Postwar

Cashier's postwar residence, since moved to Saunemin

After the war, Cashier returned to Belvidere, Illinois for a time, where she worked for Samuel Pepper and maintained her wartime identity.[15][16] She settled in Saunemin, Illinois, in 1869, where she worked as a farmhand as well as performing odd jobs around the town.[15] Albert Cashier can be found on records of the town payroll.[15] Her employer there, Joshua Chesebro, built a one-room house for her. For over forty years, she lived in Saunemin and was a church janitor, cemetery worker, and street lamplighter. Because she lived as a man, she was able to vote in elections and later claimed a veteran's pension under the name Albert Cashier.[17] In later years, she ate with the neighboring Lannon family. Later on, when Hodgers fell ill, the Lannons discovered that she was female when they asked a nurse to examine her, but they did not make their discovery public.[18]

In 1911, Cashier was hit by a car that broke her leg.[18] A physician discovered her secret in the hospital, but did not disclose the information. On May 5, 1911, because she was no longer able to work, Cashier was moved to the Soldiers and Sailors home in Quincy, Illinois. During this stay, Hodgers was visited by many of her fellow soldiers from Ninety-fifth Regiment.[18] She lived there until her mental state deteriorated and she was moved to the Watertown State Hospital for the Insane in March 1914.[19] Attendants at the Watertown State Hospital discovered that she was female when giving her a bath, at which point she was made to wear women's clothes again after fifty years.[19]

Death and legacy

Albert Cashier died on October 10, 1915. She was buried in the uniform she had kept intact all those years and her tombstone was inscribed "Albert D. J. Cashier, Co. G, 95 Ill. Inf."[9] Cashier was given an official Grand Army of the Republic funerary service, and was buried with full military honors.[19] It took W.J. Singleton (executor of Cashier's estate) nine years to track Cashier's identity back to her birth name of Jennie Hodgers. None of the would-be heirs proved convincing, and the estate of $418.461[20] was deposited in the Adams County, Illinois, treasury. In the 1970s, a second tombstone, inscribed with both of her names, was placed beside the first.[9]

Also Known As Albert D. J. Cashier: The Jennie Hodgers Story is a biography written by veteran Lon P. Dawson, who lived at the Illinois Veterans Home where Cashier once lived. The novel My Last Skirt, by Lynda Durrant, is based on her life. Cashier's house has been restored in Saunemin.[21]

Authors including Michael Bronski, James Cromwell, Kirstin Cronn-Mills, and Nicholas Teich have suggested or argued that Cashier was a trans man.[3][4][5][6]

References

  1. ^ "What part am I to act in this great drama?" (PDF). Salt. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  2. ^ a b c Blanton, DeAnne & Cook, Lauren M. (2002). They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War. Louisiana State University Press. 
  3. ^ a b Cromwell, Jason (1999). "Transvestite Opportunists, Passing Women, and Female-Bodied Men". Transmen and FTMs: Identities, Bodies, Genders, and Sexualities. University of Illinois Press. pp. 77–78. ISBN 9780252068256. 
  4. ^ a b Bronski, Michael (2011). "A Democracy of Death and Art". A Queer History of the United States. Beacon Press. pp. 69–70. ISBN 9780807044391. 
  5. ^ a b Teich, Nicholas (2012). "The History of Transgenderism and its Evolution Over Time". Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue. Columbia University Press. pp. 76–77. ISBN 9780231157124. 
  6. ^ a b Cronn-Mills, Kirstin (2014). Transgender Lives: Complex Stories, Complex Voices. Lemer Publishing. p. 41. ISBN 9780761390220. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Tsui, Bonnie (2006). She Went to the Field: Women Soldiers of the Civil War. Guilford: Two Dot. p. 52. ISBN 9780762743841. 
  8. ^ Benck, Amy. "Albert D. J. Cashier: Woman Warrior, Insane Civil War Veteran, or Transman?". OutHistory. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c Hicks-Bartlett, Alani (February 1994). "When Jennie Comes Marchin' Home". Illinois History. Archived from the original on 2006-09-05. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  10. ^ a b Blanton, DeAnne (Spring 1993). "Women Soldiers of the Civil War". Prologue. College Park, MD: National Archives. 25 (1). Archived from the original on 5 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  11. ^ Tsui, Bonnie (2006). She Went to the Field: Women Soldiers of the Civil War. Guilford: Two Dot. p. 54. ISBN 9780762743841. 
  12. ^ Tsui, Bonnie (2006). She Went to the Field: Women Soldiers of the Civil War. Guilford: Two Dot. p. 55. ISBN 9780762743841. 
  13. ^ Tsui, Bonnie (2006). She Went to the Field: Women Soldiers of the Civil War. Guilford: Two Dot. pp. 555–56. ISBN 9780762743841. 
  14. ^ Tsui, Bonnie (2006). She Went to the Field: Women Soldiers of the Civil War. Guilford: Two Dot. pp. 56–57. ISBN 9780762743841. 
  15. ^ a b c d Tsui, Bonnie (2006). She Went to the Field: Women Soldiers of the Civil War. Guilford: Two Dot. p. 57. ISBN 9780762743841. 
  16. ^ "Deposition of J. H. Himes" (January 24, 1915) from Blanton (Spring 1993)
  17. ^ Tsui, Bonnie (2006). She Went to the Field: Women Soldiers of the Civil War. Guilford: Two Dot. p. 58. ISBN 9780762743841. 
  18. ^ a b c Tsui, Bonnie (2006). She Went to the Field: Women Soldiers of the Civil War. Guilford: Two Dot. p. 59. ISBN 9780762743841. 
  19. ^ a b c Tsui, Bonnie (2006). She Went to the Field: Women Soldiers of the Civil War. Guilford: Two Dot. p. 60. ISBN 9780762743841. 
  20. ^ Spalding; "$418.461" [sic] which could refer to denominations as small as the mill, but could also be a typo.
  21. ^ "For Love Of Freedom". Saunemin Historical Society. July 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-14. 

Further reading

  • Bradford, Martin J. (2015). A Velvet Fist in an Iron Glove: The Curious Case of Albert Cashier. Kindle Ebooks @ Amazon. Historical/fiction novel account of the life of Jennie Hodgers/Albert Cashier.
  • Durant, Lynda. (2006). My Last Skirt: the Story of Jennie Hodgers, Union Soldier. New York: Clarion Books. ISBN 0618574905 Historical fiction account of Jennie Hodgers' life.
  • Eggleston, Larry G. (2003). Women in the Civil War: Extraordinary Stories of Soldiers, Spies, Nurses, Doctors, Crusaders, and Others. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 0786414936

External links