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Cross-dressers of the American Civil War
I guess men were not very observant during the American Civil War and afterwards. Even with a bare minimum physical examination, many women were able to crossdress into men's clothing and fight. If the brave, patriotic women did not do this, they were in the back cooking, laundry to support their army of men. Today, one might think these women were queer or transgender psychologically, from what evidence there is, most did this for a variety of other reasons. Some were patriotic, others wanted to be close to the husband, or for the money. A soldiers pay was $13 a month and to incite enlistment, many were offered $150! The most amazing thing is that their gender was seldom discovered for years and usually it was discovered if an injury or sickness. Even the discovery did not mean a discharge, sometimes the discovery remained quiet.
The most famous was Albert Cashier, born Jennie Hodgers. From the time she entered the US Army as a man in 1862, she would live out her whole life as one.When the Army discovered it, she was discharged, Yet, she continued being Albert. Jennie was a well-liked "man" and fought with the best of them, though she was only 5 ft. 2in. with a slight build. She was part of the Illinois 95th Regiment and fought under Ulysses S. Grant in 40 battles including Vicksburg. She was captured yet escaped. He was a hero until her gender was discovered. She was discharged and worked as a man in a variety of jobs. Then, in 1910, a car hit her leg and this is when her gender was discovered again. It remained a secret. By 1913, her mind was going bad, alzhiemers, she was committed to a hospital where the discovery happened for a last time. This he was forced to dress as a woman. She died in 1915 with $418.
Then, there was the first black woman, William Cathay, her real name was Cathay Williams. She was about 5 ft. 9in and 130 lb. She was with the Northern army and entered the army purely for the money at age 17 and became part of the 8th Indiana Regiment in 1861. Her first service was as a woman, but in 1866, after the war, needing a job, she reenlisted as a man and for two years the impersonation worked until she fell sick. Once the gender was discovered, she was discharged in 1868. She got married but the man was no good, and it ended. She died in 1892.
Loreta Velazquez, a cuban born woman, married, enlisted as Harry Buford in the Conferate Army without her husband's knowledge in 1861. She fought at Bull Run and when her gender was discovered, discharged. She quickly enlistaed again, as the same man and fought at Shiloh, until once again, was discovered. After her second discharge, she became a spy. She would marry three times in her life and gave birth to a boy in the late 1800's.
And then are two teen girls, Mary and Mollie Bell, who enlisted in the Confederate Army as Bob Martin and Tom Parker. For two years they were undiscovered. The girls learned how to ride horses, hunt, and scavenge for food prior to the war being on a farm. Because of their superior riding skills they were part of the cavalry. At Gettysburg, both women were commended for their fighting skill and dedication, known to their fellow soldiers as "gallant, first-class fighting men". The girls were so equal to men, one became a Sergeant and the other a Corporal. One managed to kill three enemy soldiers with a muzzle loader rifle. Once their gender was discovered, the girls were imprisoned and called prostitutes, even though those men in the rank and file new different.
Lastly, there was Jack Williams aka Frances Clalin. Some today might call her a "dike", as she had masculine features in some ways, tall, erect, smoked and drank. She was a tough woman having been raised on a farm. She handled weapons as good as any man. Battle did not seem to bother her. She joined to follow her husband into war in 1861. She was in cavalry and artillery and fought in 17 battles where she was wounded three times and taken prisoner once. It was in 1862 that her husband died only a feet from her. Her gender was discovered in 1863 from wound. After the war, she gave birth to three children.