…People who lived over a hundred years ago when we do not know their thoughts,
PHOTOS: Civil War LGBT — and Feminist — HeroesThe author tells the story of Albert D. Cashier who was found to be female bodied,
A photo exhibit celebrates those who crossed gender lines to serve in the Civil War.
By Trudy Ring
November 26, 2014
When you think of the Civil War, you might think of Gone With the Wind or a Ken Burns documentary, but most likely not of LGBT history — and art teacher Scott Angus is out to change that.
Angus has collected images of women who dressed as men to fight in the war and modified them slightly with colors representing the modern transgender rights movement for an exhibit called “Forgotten Heroes,” being displayed throughout November at the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis for Transgender Awareness Month.
Angus, who is gay, became interested in cross-dressing Civil War soldiers after happening upon a few images of women who presented as male in order to fight in the conflict. Additional research showed him the phenomenon was widespread — U.S. government records document that at least 800 female-bodied soldiers served on the Union side alone. There were also some who fought for the Confederacy; various sources estimate the number at 250.
It’s difficult to say how many of these soldiers identified as lesbian or bisexual, or as transgender men, he notes. Such concepts weren’t even recognized at the time. He has found evidence, though, that at least a couple of the female-bodied soldiers featured in his exhibition identified as male and lived as men long after the war was over.
However, in old age he moved to a veterans’ home in Quincy, Ill., where his female anatomy was discovered, and he was therefore diagnosed as mentally ill. He was sent to a mental institution in Rock Island, Ill.; there he was put in a straitjacket and forced to wear dresses.The article tells the story of the lives of four soldiers who were female bodied.