About Lt. Col. Alonzo H. Cushing (USA)
Alonzo Hersford Cushing (January 19, 1841 – July 3, 1863) 'descendant of Pilgrims John Alden, Francis Cooke, Edward Fuller, Stephen Hopkins, William Mullins and Richard Warren' -
was an artillery officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He died at the Battle of Gettysburg while defending the Union position on Cemetery Ridge against Pickett's Charge, for which he is to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Civil War service
Cushing was born in what is now the city of Delafield, Wisconsin, but was raised in Fredonia, New York. His younger brother was future Union Navy officer Lt. William B. Cushing. They were the youngest of four brothers who eventually served in the Union forces.
He graduated from the United States Military Academy in the class of June 1861. He commanded Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery at Gettysburg, and was hailed by contemporaries as heroic in his actions on the third day of the battle. He was wounded three times. First, a shell fragment went straight through his shoulder. He was then grievously wounded by a shell fragment which tore into his abdomen and groin. This wound exposed Cushing's intestines, which he held in place with his hand as he continued to command his battery. After these injuries a higher ranking officer said, "Cushing, go to the rear." Cushing, due to the limited amount of men left, refused to fall back. The severity of his wounds left him unable to yell his orders above the sounds of battle. Thus, he was held aloft by his 1st Sergeant Frederick Füger, who faithfully passed on Cushing's commands. Cushing was killed when a bullet entered his mouth and exited through the back of his skull. He died on the field at the height of the assault.
Cushing's headstone at West PointHis body was returned to his family and then interred in the West Point Cemetery in Section 26, Row A, Grave 7. His headstone bears, at the behest of his mother, the inscription "Faithful unto Death."
Cushing was posthumously cited for gallantry with a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel. Füger received the Medal of Honor.
Cushing will receive a belated award of the Medal of Honor. Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin nominated him for the medal in 2002 and, following a lengthy investigation, the U.S. Army approved the nomination in February 2010. In order for the medal to be awarded, it must next be approved by the U.S. Congress. It was announced on May 20, 2010 that Cushing will receive the Medal of Honor, 147 years after his death. http://news.yahoo.com/obama-award-medal-honor-civil-war-soldier-204538098--politics.html http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/08/26/medal-of-honor-alonzo-cushing-civil-war-obama/14644917/
Alonzo H. Cushing Camp #5 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War serves the Ozaukee County region of Wisconsin. A small state park in Delafield is dedicated to the memory of Cushing and two of his brothers, William and Howard.
"Faithful unto death."
Those words on the West Point headstone of 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing succinctly enshrine the determination of the man who helped turn the tide at Gettysburg during the Civil War.
Despite two severe wounds, Cushing, 22, stayed at his post and directed artillery fire upon hordes of Confederates charging the center of the Union line at Cemetery Ridge -- a doomed assault known as Pickett's Charge. A bullet to the head finally felled the young officer.
More than 151 years after his stand, Cushing will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously in a White House ceremony on Thursday.
Medal of Honor recipients 2014
2013: The Gettysburg Address, 150 years later
Spotted: Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg? The Medal of Honor is the country's highest military award, given to American soldiers who display conspicuous "gallantry above and beyond the call of duty."
The recognition for the West Point graduate marks the longest span of time between the event and the bestowal of the award, said the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
"He does deserve it without a doubt," said John Heiser, historian at Gettysburg National Military Park. "The tragedy is ... that it should have been awarded long, long ago."
The Civil War hero, born in Delafield, Wisconsin, commanded the six-gun Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery, at the momentous Pennsylvania battle.
Cushing's battery took a pounding from Confederate artillery preceding the attack and he had only two serviceable guns when the charge began on the hot afternoon of July 3, 1863. The estimated 13,000 attackers had what is known as "The Angle" as their objective and some were able to briefly breach the stone wall.
Artillery shell fragments left Cushing with injuries to his left shoulder and groin.
"Refusing to evacuate to the rear despite his severe wounds, he directed the operation of his lone field piece continuing to fire in the face of the enemy," the White House said in a statement. "With the rebels within 100 yards of his position, Cushing was shot and killed during this heroic stand. His actions made it possible for the Union Army to successfully repulse the Confederate assault."
Heiser said that the battery -- which included 126 officers and enlisted men -- had the misfortune of being in the center of the maelstrom on the third day of the pivotal battle.
"His battery was under fire for an hour and a half," Heiser said. "It was left in shambles and destroyed." Six men were killed and 32 were wounded.
Given the status of his wounds and his battery, Cushing had every reason to withdraw, said Heiser.
"He is going to show those Rebels one way or the other that his battery will be in action to the end," said Heiser. "It is upholding the highest level of what the Army says is honorable service."
Katie Lawhon, management assistant at Gettysburg, said visitors today can see where Cushing's battery served.
"The story of his valor and sacrifice at the center of the Union battle line ... is a very inspiring story to a lot of people who study Gettysburg," said Lawhon.
Honor for Cushing is a long time coming
Thursday's presentation culminates years of lobbying for the honor. Cushing was recommended in 2010, but Congress did not give formal approval until late last year.
Cushing received a waiver of a requirement that the Medal of Honor must be recommended within two years of the event and presented within three years, Laura Jowdy, archivist with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, said.