Posthumous Medal of Honor Recipient Brev. Lt. Col. Alonzo Cushing

via TJC

Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends”. – John 15:13

We men of TJC are taking this Memorial Day week to honor those who unselfishly gave the ultimate sacrifice. We chose to honor those who posthumously received the United States Miliary’s highest honor: The Congressional Medal of Honor for valor on the battlefield.

The words enshrined within the Medal of Honor citations best captures what it means to be human.

‘Gallantry in action. Intrepidity. Above and beyond the call of duty. Risk of life. Selflessness. Exemplary action. Unwavering devotion. Conspicuous gallantry. Extraordinary heroism.’

One such recipient during our American Civil War was Brev. Lt. Col. Alonzo Cushing.

Cushing was an artillery officer commanding Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was killed in action during the Battle of Gettysburg while defending the Union position on Cemetery Ridge against Pickett’s Charge.

Cushing was a graduate of the United States Military Academy, class of June 1861. With the Army of the Potomac, Cushing was at the battles of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. During the Chancellorsville Campaign, Cushing was promoted to command Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, in the Army of the Potomac’s II Corps. He was brevetted major following the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Cushing was commanding Battery A’s 126 men and 6 cannons on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863.  In the face of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s assault, at the apex of the assault, Cushing’s battery took a severe pounding by Confederate artillery.

Within just a few hours, all of Cushing’s officers had been killed, and all but two of his guns had been silenced. 

On that day’s battlefield, Cushing was wounded three times. A shell fragment went completely through his shoulder and a second shell fragment tore into his abdomen and groin. That wound exposed his intestines, which he held in place with his hand as he continued to command his battery. A superior officer said, “Cushing, go to the rear.” Due to the limited number of men left, he 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 was 22 years old. 

Though posthumously cited for gallantry with a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel for his service at the Battle of Gettysburg, no award was presented for Cushing’s efforts during that critical day of battle. He is interred in the West Point Cemetery. His headstone bears the inscription “Faithful unto Death. His grave is next to that of Major General John Buford, another hero of Gettysburg, who had chosen the battlefield that Cushing had died defending.

After 151 years, the White House announced that Brevet Lt. Col. Alonzo Cushing would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, with President Obama presiding over the official ceremony on November 6, 2014. Helen Bird Loring Ensign, a second cousin twice removed, accepted the medal on Cushing’s behalf. 

Daily Battle Order:

Medal of Honor recipients were all men fighting for what they believed in. Alonzo Cushing believed and did not love his own life more than the men he led. He was an excellent example of a man voluntarily laying down his life for his friends. As a Kingdom Man, what mission were you made for? What cause are you fighting for? Are you ready to go above and beyond the call of duty against the enemy; to give your last full measure of devotion?

“I am a Kingdom Man. Like Joshua, I will be strong and courageous. I will train my mind and body for the battles to come. I will discipline my heart, eyes, and tongue to be steadfast and faithful of the calling on my life.”  – Excerpt from the TJC Creed

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