Alonzo Hersford Cushing (January 19, 1841 – July 3, 1863) was an artillery officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He died at the Battle of Gettysburg while defending the Union position on Cemetery Ridge against Pickett’s Charge.
Cushing was born in what is now the city of Delafield, Wisconsin and raised in Fredonia, New York.
Cushing graduated from the United States Military Academy in the class of June 1861, and received commissions as second and first lieutenant on the same day. He was brevetted major following the Battle of Chancellorsville. Cushing commanded Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery at Gettysburg, and was hailed by contemporaries as heroic in his actions on the third day of the battle. He was wounded three times. First, a shell fragment went straight through his shoulder. He was then grievously wounded by a second shell fragment, which tore into his abdomen and groin. This wound exposed his intestines, which he held in place with his hand as he continued to command his battery. After these injuries, a higher-ranking officer said, “Cushing, go to the rear.” Cushing, due to the limited number of men left, 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 died on the field at the height of the assault. He was 22 years old.
Cushing was posthumously cited for gallantry with a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel.
Action was undertaken in 2013, 150 years after Cushing’s death, to award him the Medal of Honor. The nomination was approved by the United States Congress, and was sent for review by the Defense Department and the President.
On August 26, 2014, the White House announced Cushing would be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. On November 6, 2014, 151 years after Alonzo Cushing’s death, President Obama presented the award at a ceremony at the White House, attended by two dozen relatives of the Cushing family.