A Wisconsin war veteran from long ago will be honored, over 150 years after his heroics helped shaped the outcome of the Civil War. Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing fought for the Union Army, and died in battle. The White House announced this week that he will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) says Cushing was a courageous leader wh0, at just 22 years of age, gave his life to protect the nation at the Battle of Gettysburg, and his exceptional bravery and determination on the battlefield should serve as an inspiration to us all. “By all of the eyewitness accounts of what he did there, right at the center of the Union lines to hold the center, ultimately won the battle, turned the course of the war, is finally being recognized. He’s one of our own, a Wisconsin native that we can all be proud about.”
Three days into the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, Cushing and the 110 men under his command received the full force of Confederate artillery and Pickett’s Charge of 13,000 infantry. Over the course of just a few hours, all of his officers had been killed and Cushing himself was badly injured. Continuing to fight, he sustained two more wounds before succumbing to his wounds on the field of battle.
The efforts to posthumously recognize Cushing for his battlefield efforts has been going on for over 25 years. Kind remembers the push began at a former Senator’s office. “There was an elderly woman by the name of Margaret who brought this to Senator (William) Proxmire’s attention back in the 1980s. I was interning for ‘Prox’ at the time, and that was my first encounter with all of this, and that’s where it started, and since then, I’ve been introducing legislation along with Jim Sensenbrenner, and Delafield being in his district, to finally award Alonzo Cushing the Congressional Medal of Honor.”
Until recently, there were time limits and other guidelines prohibiting the award from being awarded to Cushing. Kind says there were also delays for years from legislators representing southern states, which kept Wisconsin’s delegation from gaining enough votes to give the medal. Kind is glad it’s now happening, and that President Obama will support it. “It’s again, not too late to recognize the courage and sacrifice that our battlefield heroes have done, especially a Wisconsin native, and what he did for us during the Civil War.”
A ceremony will be held at a future date, but that date and place have not been determined. Kind says there are some options. “We have to decide who ultimately, or where the Congressional Medal (of Honor) will be housed. It could be in Delafield. Alonzo Cushing was very proud of his graduation at West Point. That might be another appropriate place, so all of the cadets at our U.S. military academy can see it and learn a little bit about Alonzo Cushing and what he was all about.”