Jennie Hodgers, 1844-1915
For this soldier, camp life was more than exotic. It was a constant tension as "he" attempted to conceal a secret. This soldier, Pvt. Albert Cashier, was in fact, a woman.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, her real name was Jennie Hodgers, and she arrived in the United States as a shipboard stowaway and at the time of the Civil War was living in Belvedere, Illinois. Dressed as a man, she enlisted as a private in Company G / 95 th Illinois Volunteer Infantry on Aug. 6, 1862. Her regiment was mustered into federal service at Camp Fuller Sep. 4, and a month later departed for Grand Junction, Tennessee, where the 95th was assigned to the Army of Tennessee.
Her regiment participated in the Vicksburg campaign during 1863 and in the Red River campaign the following spring. Through the remainder of 1864, they operated against Major General Nathan Bedford Forest's calvary in northern Mississippi, were heavily engaged at Brice's Crossroads on June 10, pursued Major General Sterling Price during his Missouri raid and fought at Nashville, Tennessee. Sent to the Gulf of Mexico in February, 1865, the regiment ended it's military carreer by taking part in the investment of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely in front of Mobile.
In Aug., she returned with the regiment to Camp Butler, where it was discharged after nearly 3 years of hard service. With her comrades, she recieved a hero's welcome in Belvedere. She lived in several towns in Illinois through 1869, finally settling down in Sunemin to support herself by working as a farmhand and handyman. She kept her sex a secret until 1911, when her leg was fractured in a minor automobile accident and the doctor called in to treat her discovered she was a woman. Realizing that the 66-year-old Cashier was too crippled by the infirmities of age to live alone any longer, her employer arranged to have her admitted to the Soldiers and Sailors home in Quincy. For several years authorities there kept her secret until her failing memory and increasingly erratic behavior induced them to transfer her to the insane asylum at Watertown in Mar. 1913.
During her later years, she collected an invalid soldier's pension of $70 each month. Through the Grand Army of the Republic, she kept in touch with her old army comrades, who never suspected her disguise until authorities at the asylum forced her to discard it. They recalled the slight, 5'3" veteran as an amiable loner and a good soldier who, despite her diminutiveness had kept up on the hardest marches, handled a rifle with skill equal to any infantryman, and never shirked a duty.
That she was the same person who had served with the 95th was challenged when her secret identity became public but a special examining board at the Bureau of Pensions upheld her veteran's claim. When she died at Watertown, members of the local GAR chapter saw that she was buried in uniform with military honors. Hers is the only case of a woman fulfilling an army enlistment.