In Civil War, Woman Fought Like A Man For Freedom

From National Public Radio:

Albert D.J. Cashier was the shortest soldier in the 95th Illinois Infantry. In one of the few existing photographs of Cashier during the Civil War, you can faintly detect the outline of breasts under his uniform.

But that’s if you’re looking for it. And the military apparently was not. “They didn’t conduct physical exams in those days, the way the military does now,” says Rodney Davis, a retired professor of history at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. “What they were looking for was warm bodies.”

Jennie Hodgers, masquerading as Cashier, marched thousands of miles during the war. She was at the Siege of Vicksburg and the surrender of Mobile. Her regiment took part in more than 40 skirmishes and battles.

“Albert Cashier seems to have been in [the war] from the beginning to the end,” Davis says. “She stuck it out.”

Davis’ own great-grandfather was Cashier’s commanding officer and one of several former comrades who rallied to Hodgers’ defense when officials considered taking away her veteran’s pension for identity fraud. To her fellow soldiers, Davis says, her status as a Union Army veteran trumped her identity as a woman.