Jennie Hodgers, born in Clogher Head Parish south of Belfast in Ireland, was a veteran of the American Civil War.
Take a moment and re-read that. Do you see the surprise?
Jennie Hodgers was (genetically at least) a woman.
Jennie Hodgers, an Irish immigrant to the United States, is a fantastic historical example of a transgendered individual, and of a general badass. In Larry G. Eggleston’s book Women in the Civil War: Extraordinary Stories of Soldiers, Spies, and Nurses, Doctors, Crusaders and Others dedicates a chapter of his book to detail the life of Jennie Hodgers and her involvement in the Civil War. Hodgers, at the age of 18, enlisted in the Illinois Volunteer Infantry as Albert D.J. Cashier. According to Eggleston, Cashier “holds the longest length of service for a woman soldier in the Civil War.” (p. 17) Cashier served for the entire war, avoiding detecting by her comrades, and continued life under the named “Albert Cashier” as a labourer and cattle herder. Cashier’s “secret” became in 1913, and was written about in newspapers.
Cashier’s gender was uncovered at least three times prior to the point, however each party agreed to respect Cashier’s decision and privacy. According to Eggleston, following the very public discussion of Cashier’s gender, Cashier became “erratic and hard to handle” (p. 19) and was admitted to the State of Illinois Asylum for insanity. Cashier passed away at the age of 72 and was buried in full military honours.
Serving your country and being true to yourself in my eyes makes Jennie Hodgers-Albert Cashier a person worth noting. And definite special mention goes out to all the people who knew Cashier and showed respect.
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Eggleston, Larry G. “Jennie Hodgers.” In Women in the Civil War: Extraordinary Stories of Soldiers, Spies, and Nurses, Doctors, Crusaders and Others. 16-22. Jefferson: McFarland and Company Inc., 2003.