Albert Cashier

Immigrant, Civil War Soldier, Comrade-in-Arms

"Lots of boys enlisted under the wrong name. So did I. The country needed men, and I wanted excitement. I worked on an Illinois farm as a man the year before the war. I wasn't discovered and thought I'd try my luck in the service."~Albert Cashier, statement to a fellow soldier, ca 1913

Born with the name Jennie Hodgers in Clogherhead, Co. Louth, in Ireland in 1843, the person who spent most of their life as Albert D.J. Cashier emigrated to the United States sometime before the start of the Civil War.

There are a number of possible reasons why Albert dressed and lived as a man prior to enlisting in the Union Army, but they are difficult to corroborate. One story is that Jennie's uncle secured a job for them at an all-male shoe factory shortly after they arrived in the United States. Another is that they could more easily obtain work as a farmhand dressed in male attire.

On August 6, 1862, they decided to enlist in the Union Army in Belvidere, Illinois, as Albert D.J. Cashier.  Cashier served as a private in Company G of the 95th Illinois Infantry for the next three years, mustering out on August 17, 1865. During those years of their service, Cashier was accepted as a man, the only documented case of a woman serving in the Civil War without having her gender discovered among some 400 women who enlisted. 

Cashier trained at Camp Fuller in Rockford, Illinois and then embarked for the Western Theater of the Civil War by way of Cairo and Camp Jackson in St. Louis. Their regiment took part in the siege of Vicksburg, the Red River Expedition, and the Nashville and Mobile campaings that led to Union control of the Mississippi River. Cashier served at the battles of Kennesaw Mountain and Jonesborough in the Georgia. Cashier's comrades remember him as a war hero due to his actions at Vicksburg goading rebble soldiers and avoiding capture by the enemy. During their three years of service, Cashier particpated in 40 battled and skirmishes and traveled more than 9960 miles. 

After the war, Cashier continued to live and work as a man. He worked at farms and hardware stories around Illinois and voted in elections, something he would not have been able to do with female gender identitiy. Cashier was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union veterans' organization and received a military pension starting in 1890.

Near the end of their life, Cashier's original female identity was discovered following a 1911 automobile accident, but the doctor and nurse kept Cashier's secret. That year, Cashier moved to the Soldier's and Sailor's Home in Quincy, Illinois where the superintendant was informed of Cashier's unique circumstances but continued to keep them a secret. However, in 1913, the story of Cashier's birth as Jennie Hodgers came out in the press. At this point in time, Cashier's mental health was beginning to fail, and they were transferred in 1914 to Watertown State Hospital where they were forced to wear female attire and addressed as Jennie Hodgers instead of Albert Cashier. However, when Cashier died in Watertown on October 10, 1915, fellow veterans from the Grand Army of the Republic insisted they be buried as s soldier in uniform with full military honors. Albert Cashier was buried in Saunemin, Illinois with a soldier's headstone marking his grave, and soldiers from the 95th Illinois endeavored to preserve his memory and celebrate his contributions to the Civil War.