Did Any Women Fight in the U.S. Civil War?

Researchers at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., have found evidence that at least 400 women -- and perhaps many more -- disguised themselves as men to fight in the American Civil War. The Confederate and Union armies both included women who cut their hair, put on trousers, and took up arms, some fighting for a cause and some for a paycheck. “If you had teeth to tear open a cartridge and a working thumb and forefinger, that was enough,” said historian Elizabeth Leonard.

Women in the ranks:

  • Among male recruits barely past puberty, the smooth face of a woman could easily have passed without comment. Ill-fitting clothing concealed body shape, while the inability to grow a beard was attributed to youth.
  • Most of the people who fought in the Civil War were “citizen soldiers” with no prior military training. Prevailing 19th-century social customs compelled most soldiers to sleep clothed, bathe separately, and avoid public latrines.
  • Albert Cashier served in the Union Army as a man and was buried at age 71 with full military honors in 1915. But Cashier, born Jennie Irene Hodgers, was biologically a woman, one of the many cross-dressers and gender defiers who have served in the U.S. military.
More Info: The Washington Post

Discussion Comments


I never suspected that many veterans -- have heard about one or two. It makes sense though. Gung Ho!


Very interesting article. I'm so fascinated with women in history. I wish I had pictures of them. Love your articles. Keep up the great work.


Women can now serve without having to hide their identity and this article is put up with dubious purposes to suggest that this has anything to do with people who want to pretend that there is any correlation between women who simply wanted a paycheck or to serve compares to people who can't look down and decide which gender they are.

Interesting read until I got to the very end of the bit on Albert Cashier. Jennie Hodgers was simply trying to serve her new country of choice and was not out to make a political statement. Once she had served and earned herself a place of honor, she decided she did not want to give it up, and therefore decided to remain as Albert Cashier, a proud veteran of the Civil War.

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