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People Profile: Albert Cashier

Today we are profiling Albert Cashier, who was a transgender soldier who served in the American Civil War.

“… we have just discovered one of our solders belonging to this regiment is a woman and he is found out and sent home. He is one of those loose characters that used to run around camp in Rockford. He put on mens’ clothes and enlisted just before we started …”

Albert D. J. Cashier was born on December 25, 1843 as Jennie Irene Hodgers. He was an Irish-born immigrant who served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Cashier was a transgender male.

Little is known about Cashier’s early life, only that he was born in Ireland and came to the United States when he was very young. No one knows for sure at what age he started to present as male. We do know he traveled to Illinois as a stowaway. In 1862 at the age of 19, Cashier enlisted into the 95th Illinois Infantry. His regiment was part of the Army of the Tennessee under Ulysses S. Grant and they fought in approximately forty battles. Most notable were the siege at Vicksburg, the Red River Campaign and Guntown, Mississippi, where they suffered heavy casualties.

Other soldiers found Cashier to be small and introverted, which was not uncommon at the time. Though the shortest soldier in his company he was known as one of the bravest. He was captured at Vicksburg while on a reconnaissance mission. He escaped by attacking a guard, seizing his gun and outrunning his captors. Cashier fought with the regiment through the war until 1865.

There was one letter found that was written by Thomas Hannah, Jr., a private in Company G, 95th Illinois Regiment, that may have referred to Cashier. “… we have just discovered one of our solders belonging to this regiment is a woman and he is found out and sent home. He is one of those loose characters that used to run around camp in Rockford. He put on mens’ clothes and enlisted just before we started …” stated Hannah in the letter. Hannah also indicated that the soldier was sent back to Belvidere, Illinois where Cashier had enlisted.

After the war, Cashier returned to Belvidere, Illinois for a time where he worked as a farmhand. He then went on to work as a church janitor, cemetery worker and street lamplighter for over 40 years. In 1910, Cashier was hit by a car and broke his leg. A physician discovered his secret in the hospital, but did not disclose the information. In 1911, Cashier was moved to the Soldier and Sailors home in Quincy, Illinois. He lived there until his mind deteriorated and was moved to a hospital for the insane in 1913. Attendants at that hospital discovered that he was female-bodied when giving him a bath. They forced him to wear a dress for the remainder of his life.

Albert Cashier died on October 11, 1915. He was buried in his Civil War uniform. Cashier is one of many transgender men who served in the american civil war but his story is one of the most known. His birthday is on Christmas day.

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