Alonzo Cushing

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Alonzo H. Cushing
Alonzo Cushing.jpg
Alonzo Cushing
Born (1841-01-19)January 19, 1841
Delafield, Wisconsin, U.S.
Died July 3, 1863(1863-07-03) (aged 22)
Cemetery Ridge, near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Buried at West Point Cemetery, West Point, New York
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1861–1863
Rank Union army lt col rank insignia.jpg Brevet Lieutenant colonel
Commands held Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery
Battles/wars

American Civil War

Awards Medal of Honor
Relations William B. Cushing (brother), Howard B. Cushing (brother)

Alonzo Hersford Cushing (January 19, 1841 – July 3, 1863) 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. Action was undertaken in 2013, 150 years after Cushing's death, to award him the Medal of Honor. The nomination was approved by the United States Congress, and was sent for review by the Defense Department and the President.[1][2][3]

On August 26, 2014, the White House announced he would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. President Obama awarded him the medal on November 6, 2014, in a White House ceremony attended by Cushing's distant cousins, Frederic Stevens Sater and Frederic Cushing Stevens III, and their families, although his closest relation was Helen Bird Loring Ensign, a first cousin twice removed. Cushing left no direct descendants.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

Cushing was born in what is now the city of Delafield, Wisconsin and 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 (Their brother Howard was also killed while fighting the Chiricahua in 1871).[6]

Civil War service[edit]

Cushing graduated from the United States Military Academy in the class of June 1861, and received commissions as second and first lieutenant on the same day. He was brevetted major following the Battle of Chancellorsville.[7] Cushing 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 second shell fragment, which tore into his abdomen and groin. This wound exposed his 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 number 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. He was 22 years old.[8][9]

Cushing's headstone at West Point

His 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, Mary, the inscription "Faithful unto Death."[10] His grave is next to that of Major General John Buford, another hero of Gettysburg, who had chosen the battlefield that Cushing had died defending.

Cushing was posthumously cited for gallantry with a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel.[11]

Medal of Honor[edit]

Cushing was nominated for a belated award of the Medal of Honor, beginning with a letter campaign in the late 1980s by constituents of Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin. The measure was also advocated by Congressman Ron Kind of Wisconsin's 3rd congressional district.[2] In 2002, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) nominated Cushing for the Medal of Honor and, following a lengthy investigation, the U.S. Army approved the nomination in February 2010. In order for the medal to be awarded, it had to be approved by the United States Congress.[12] It was announced on May 20, 2010 that Cushing would receive the Medal of Honor, 147 years after his death.[13]

However, the provision granting Cushing the Medal of Honor was removed from a defense spending bill by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) in December 2012.[14] In December 2013, the Senate passed a defense bill that included a provision granting Cushing the Medal of Honor. The nomination was sent to the Defense Department for review, before being approved by President Barack Obama.[2] On August 26, 2014, the White House announced Cushing would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. On November 6, 2014, 151 years after Alonzo Cushing's death, President Obama presented the award at a ceremony at the White House, attended by two dozen relatives of the Cushing family.[15]

Legacy[edit]

Alonzo H. Cushing Camp #5 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War serves the Ozaukee County region of Wisconsin.[6] A small state park in Delafield was dedicated to the memory of Cushing and two of his brothers, William and Howard.[12] While the park remains dedicated to the memory of the Cushing brothers, it is now the property of the City of Delafield. Cushing Elementary School in Delafield (part of the Kettle Moraine School District) is also named after the brothers. A stone monument in honor of Cushing marks the spot where he was killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. The marker is located on Cemetery Ridge, along Hancock Avenue, at The Angle.[16]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Jones, Meg (2013-12-24). "Decades-long quest to honor Civil War hero Alonzo Cushing nears success". Jsonline.com. Retrieved 2014-08-27. 
  2. ^ a b c Civil War hero on track to receive Medal of Honor, latimes.com; accessed November 6, 2014.
  3. ^ Medal of Honor for Civil War hero, Lt. Alonzo Cushing, washingtontimes.com; November 5, 2014; accessed November 7, 2014.
  4. ^ Phil Gast (August 26, 2014). "151 years later, Medal of Honor for hero at Gettysburg". CNN. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  5. ^ Medal of Honor ceremony, c-span.org; accessed November 6, 2014.
  6. ^ a b SUVCW Camp #5 website, suvcw-wi.org; accessed November 7, 2014.
  7. ^ Service Profile
  8. ^ Brown, Cushing of Gettysburg.
  9. ^ Gettysburg National Military Park – The Death of Lt. Cushing, nps.gov; accessed November 7, 2014.
  10. ^ West Point Cemetery tourbook
  11. ^ "Gettysburg hero may get Medal of Honor 150 years later", July 4, 2013, foxnews.com; accessed November 6, 2014.
  12. ^ a b Hesselberg, George (March 9, 2010). "Wisconsin soldier who died in the Civil War gets Medal of Honor recommendation". Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin). Archived from the original on March 12, 2010. 
  13. ^ Ramde, Dinesh (2010-05-19). "147 years later, Wis. Civil War soldier is approved for Medal of Honor". Yahoo! News (Associated Press). Archived from the original on 2010-05-23. Retrieved 2014-08-31. 
  14. ^ Cushing won't get his medal - at least this year, livinglakecountry.com; accessed November 6, 2014.
  15. ^ Simpson, Ian (2014-11-06). "Obama awards officer Medal of Honor for Civil War heroism". Reuters. Retrieved 2014-11-06. 
  16. ^ "Monument to Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing at Gettysburg National Military Park". Gettysburg.stonesentinels.com. Retrieved 2014-08-27. 

References[edit]

  • Brown, Kent Masterson. Cushing of Gettysburg. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1993; ISBN 0-8131-1837-9.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]