October 11th 1915: Albert Cashier dies
On this day in 1915, Civil War veteran Albert Cashier - born Jennie Hodgers - died in Illinois aged 71. On August 6th 1862, aged nineteen, Hodgers enlisted in the 95th Illinois Infantry under the name of Albert Cashier. Cashier was considered a good soldier by army superiors, who thought nothing of his short stature and desire for privacy, and fought with his regiment in over forty battles. During the Siege of Vicksburg, he was captured by Confederate forces and escaped by overpowering the prison guard. Cashier left the army in August 1865, and returned to his native Illinois, finding employment in a variety of manual jobs. Cashier voted in elections and collected a veteran’s pension, which women were prevented from doing at that time. In 1910, Cashier was hit by a car, suffering a broken leg, and was sent to a veteran’s hospital in Quincy, Illinois. Three years later, the onset of dementia led to his relocation to a state hospital for the insane. While the previous hospitals had agreed not to disclose Cashier’s birth sex, the state institution forced him to dress in female clothing and allowed the press to report on the sensational story of the identity of Private Albert Cashier. While his wartime colleagues were surprised by the revelation, they were impressed by Cashier’s heroism during the Civil War and defended him against an investigation charging him with defrauding the government to receive a pension. They were successful, and upon his death in 1915 - less than two years before women were allowed to serve in the military - Cashier was buried in full uniform in a grave marked with his military service. Cashier died after becoming bedridden upon breaking his hip, an injury sustained because he was unused to wearing long dresses, which caused him to trip and fall. Over 400 women fought in the Civil War in the guise of men, but Cashier’s case has attracted particular attention as Hodgers allegedly dressed as a man prior to enlistment, and decided to continue to live as a man after the war. This has led some historians to identity Cashier as a transgender man, hence the use of male pronouns in this post, though it is unclear how Cashier himself identified.
100 years ago today