27 August 2014

Civil War soldier to receive Medal of Honor

US Army First Lieutenant Alonzo Hersford Cushing will be awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry in action at the battle of Gettysburg on 3 July 1863, announced the White House yesterday. President Obama will present the award posthumously next month.  

First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions while serving as commanding officer of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac. Cushing distinguished himself during combat operations against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on 3 July 1863.

First Lieutenant Cushing was killed in action on 3 July 1863, at the age of 22.  On that day, the third day of the battle, in the face of Longstreet’s Assault, also known as Pickett’s Charge, First Lieutenant Cushing’s battery took a severe pounding by Confederate artillery.  As the rebel infantry advanced, he manned the only remaining, and serviceable, field piece in his battery.  During the advance, he was wounded in the stomach as well as in the right shoulder.  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.  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.

The son of Milton Buckingham Cushing and Mary Butler Smith, he was born in what is now Delafield, Wisconsin. He was raised in Fredonia, New York.  His two older brothers and his younger brother all fought as well.

He entered the US Military Academy at West Point on 1 July 1857 at the age of 16. First Lieutenant Cushing graduated, and was commissioned, from the United States Military Academy at West Point in the class of June 1861.  He was ranked 13th in a class of 35 at the time of graduation.

Cushing was the commander of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg. In addition to Gettysburg, he also saw action at the First Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, Peninsula Campaign, Seven Days, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville.

First Lieutenant Cushing is buried with full honors at his alma mater, West Point.

President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor on 15 September 2014.

Kent Masterson Brown wrote Cushing of Gettysburg: The Story of a Union Artillery Commander, published by The University Press of Kentucky.

Taken in large part from a press release from the White House and resources from Ancestry.com.
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.