Women soldiers

From a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that’s no longer online:

Jennie Irene Hodgers was born in County Louth, Ireland, on Christmas Day in 1843 and later sailed to New York with her family.

But she already was calling herself Albert D.J. Cashier when she turned up in Belvidere, Ill., and enlisted in the 95th Illinois Regiment in 1862. She served as an infantryman through three years and some 40 Civil War battles.

Later, it was as Cashier that she lived and worked in Saunemin, voted in elections, collected her Army pension and moved in 1911 to the Illinois Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home (now the Illinois Veterans Home) in Quincy.

She became Jennie Hodgers again only when she was transferred in 1913 to the former Watertown State Hospital near East Moline and psychiatrists forced her to wear female attire.

But while she was confined at Watertown, men from her old unit rallied to her defense, convincing the federal Pension Board to rule in 1914 that she could continue to collect her pension as Pvt. Albert D.J. Cashier.

And at the insistence of Saunemin residents, that was the name she was buried under — clad in her Civil War uniform — after her death in 1915.

Interesting story about women who disguised themselves as men in order to fight in wars. About Jennie Hodgers, historians say she may have taken a male persona for economic rather than transsexual reasons:

As an illiterate immigrant girl, Hodgers could have found lawful employment only as a domestic servant. But in male disguise, she could work in factories or as a farmhand. At enlistment, Hodgers gave her occupation as “laborer, farmhand and shepherd.” A private in the Union army earned more than an agricultural worker.

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