|Albert D.J. Cashier in November 1864 - from wikipedia.com|
Jennie Irene Hodgers was born in December 1843 in Clogherhead, Ireland. She emigrated to the United States when she was young but very little is known about her early life. When the Civil War broke out, she took on the identity of Albert D. J. Cashier and mustered into Company G of the 95th Illinois Infantry on September 7, 1862. Albert and his unit fought in approximately 40 battles. He was captured at Vicksburg but managed to escape. He mustered out on August 17, 1865.
There were over 400 documented cases of women who disguised themselves as men in order to help the Union cause. The reasons are varied - some felt a patriotic duty, some wanted the adventure, some wanted the $13/month pay (twice what a woman could make). Because the enlistment physical examination was often cursory or even non-existent, it was fairly easy for the recruit to simply cut her hair, put on a pair of slacks, and talk with a deeper voice. These women fought bravely alongside their male counterparts, then returned to their former lives as women after the war.
Jennie/Albert was different, though. He continued to live as a man for the rest of his life. Albert moved to Belvidere, IL, then to Saunemin, IL where he did odd jobs such as a farmhand, janitor, and lamplighter. He retired to the Soldier and Sailor home in 1911 but was moved to the Watertown State Hospital when his mind deteriorated in 1913. There, an attendant discovered his biologic gender while giving him a bath.
When word leaked out that a veteran was actually a woman, the US Government charged him with fraud in order to collect a pension. Fellow soldiers from the 95th rallied to his defense and testified that Albert was indeed their former comrade and he was allowed to continue receiving his pension.
Albert Cashier died on 11 October 1915. He was buried in his uniform with full military honors.
The wreath laying ceremony was held in the Sunny Slope Cemetery in Saunemin, IL.
|Taps are played by Master Chief Mary Arvidson USN(Ret)|