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Alonzo H. Cushing
Alonzo Cushing
Born (1841-01-19)January 19, 1841
Died July 3, 1863(1863-07-03) (aged 22)
Place of birth Delafield, Wisconsin
Place of death Cemetery Ridge, near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Place of burial West Point Cemetery, West Point, New York
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch U.S. 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

Brother William B. Cushing

Brother Howard B. Cushing

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 to award him the Medal of Honor; more than 150 years after his death, the nomination was approved by the United States Congress, and was sent for review by the Defense Department and the President.[1][2] On August 26, 2014, the White House announced he would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, and it was awarded on November 6, 2014.[3]

Early life[edit | edit source]

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 (Their brother Howard was also killed while fighting the Chiricahua in 1871).[4]

Civil War service[edit | edit source]

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.[5] 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 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 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.[6]

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, the inscription "Faithful unto Death."[7]

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

Medal of Honor[edit | edit source]

Cushing has been 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 has been also been advocated by Congressman Ron Kind of Wisconsin's 3rd congressional district.[2] In 2002, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin 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.[8] It was announced on May 20, 2010 that Cushing would receive the Medal of Honor, 147 years after his death.[9] However, the provision granting Cushing the Medal of Honor was removed from a defense spending bill by Senator Jim Webb (D) of Virginia in December 2012.[10] Finally, in December 2013, the Senate passed a defense bill that included a provision which granted Cushing the Medal of Honor. The nomination was sent for review by the Defense Department, 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, President Obama bestowed the honor on Cushing.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

Alonzo H. Cushing Camp #5 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War serves the Ozaukee County region of Wisconsin.[4] A small state park in Delafield was dedicated to the memory of Cushing and two of his brothers, William and Howard.[8] 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.[11]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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

Further reading[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]


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