Who: Alonzo Hersford Cushing
What: Union artillery officer
Where: Born Delafield, Wisconsin; died Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Why: Medal of Honor recipient for his actions at Gettysburg
When: Born January 19, 1841; died July 3, 1863
“Sometimes even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the passage of time.’ – Barack Obama at Cushing’s belated Medal of Honor Presentation
Alonzo Cushing was born in Wisconsin, and raised in Fredonia, New York. He was one of four brothers who served in the Union forces – his brother William was a Lieutenant in the US Navy, known for an audacious night-time raid that resulting in the sinking of the CSS Albemarle in 1864; another brother, Howard, fought largely in his brothers’ shadows, eventually being killed by an Apache during the Indian Wars in 1871. Alonzo graduated West Point in 1861, a classmate of George Armstrong Custer, and was commissioned a Lieutenant in the 4th US Artillery. He fought at First Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg, and was brevetted major after he saw action at Chancellorsville. He was in command of Battery A, 4th US Artillery at the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. On the third day, he was grievously wounded by a Confederate artillery bombardment, shell fragments tearing through his shoulder and abdomen, spilling his intestines out, which he held in place with his hands. Refusing to fall back as the Confederates launched Pickett’s Charge, but unable to shout about the din of battle, he was held aloft by 1st Sgt. Frederick Füger (another Medal of Honor recipient), who passed along Cushing’s commands, firing anti-personnel rounds at the 12,500 oncoming soldiers. Cushing was finally killed ninety minutes after his first wound when a bullet entered his mouth and came out the back of his skull. He was buried at West Point Cemetery. After years of campaigning, Cushing was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in November 2014, 151 years after his death.