Sometimes bureaucratic wheels turn slowly, but in the case of First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing, the wheels were stuck in the mud for 151 years. Lieutenant Cushion's acts of courage, and subsequent death occurred on July 3, 1863 on the battlefield at Gettysburg in the American Civil War, and he is finally being awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions there. This comes after a long push by his descendants and others who worked to get the medal awarded to him.
(The following excerpt is Reprinted with Permission of the Associated Press.)
"The White House also announced that Obama will award the medal in a ceremony on Sept. 15 to two Vietnam War soldiers who also received the congressional exemption — Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins and Army Spc. Donald P. Sloat. The medal is given to members of the Armed Forces who risk their own life in an act of great personal bravery.
"During the battle, Cushing's small force stood their ground under a severe artillery bombardment as nearly 13,000 Confederate infantrymen waited to advance. Cushing was wounded, and his battery was left with two guns and no long-range ammunition. Historians say his stricken battery should have been withdrawn and replaced with reserve forces, but Cushing insisted on ordering his guns to the front lines on the last day of fighting.
'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,' the White House said in its announcement. '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.'
More than 1,500 soldiers from the Civil War have received the Medal of Honor, most recently Cpl. Andrew Jackson Smith of Clinton, Ill., who was awarded the medal in 2001 by President Bill Clinton. It's not clear why Cushing never got one, but his descendants and admirers took up his cause in the late 1980s.
The Cushing name is prominent in Delafield, his birthplace in southeastern Wisconsin. A monument to Cushing and two of his brothers — Naval Cmdr. William Cushing and Army 1st Lt. Howard Cushing — stands at Cushing Memorial Park, where the town holds most of its Memorial Day celebrations."
Even though Lt. Cushing is not alive to receive this medal, his descendants will be witnesses to this great honor.
Check out the video and slideshow for more information on Lt. Cushing. Also, if you enjoy Civil War articles, subscribe to these free articles written by Gerry Glenn Jones for the Examiner. Subscriptions are free, and are easy to set up. Click on the subscribe link near the top of this page, and remember, "Keep your spirits high and your powder dry!"