Civl War Hero Awarded Medal of Honor
First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing was killed in action on July 3, 1863, at 22 years of age. He was posthumously awarded a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel for his service, but no award was bestowed upon him for his heroism during that important day of battle. West Point, his alma mater, buried him with full honors beneath a headstone inscribed “Faithful unto death.”
During the historically brutal battle’s third day, Cushing commanded 126 soldiers and six cannons positioned on Cemetery Ridge. Cushing’s battery was bombarded by Confederate artillery as Confederate Maj. Gen. George Pickett attempted to breach the Union line.
In the course of the bloody, terrible day, most of Cushing’s soldiers fell, including all of his officers, and he himself wound up severely wounded in the abdomen and shoulder. Refusing to flee, though, he directed his remaining guns into fire with the enemy; winding up shot in the head and killed.
The stand the Union took that day, thanks to brave men such as Cushing, famously turned the tide of the war and found the Confederates never again with the advantage.
During Thursday’s ceremony honoring Cushing, President Barack Obama said he was distinctly aware that he may not be president today had it not been for the bravery of Cushing and his fellow troops.
“This medal is a reminder that, no matter how long it takes, it’s never too late to do the right thing,” Obama said before 60 descendants and supporters of Cushing, a Wisconsin native, during the brief White House ceremony.
Helen Loring Ensign, of Palm Desert, California, Cushing’s cousin twice-removed, accepted the medal.