First Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing
The West Point graduate and his men of the Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery were defending the Union position on Cemetery Ridge against Pickett's Charge, a major Confederate thrust that could have turned the tide in the war.
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was planning an invasion of the North; both sides knew how important this engagement was.
Cushing commanded about 110 men and six cannons. His small force along with reinforcements stood their ground under artillery bombardment as nearly 13,000 Confederate infantrymen waited to advance.
The bombardment lasted two hours. Cushing was wounded in the shoulder and groin, and his battery was left with two guns and no long-range ammunition. His stricken battery should have been withdrawn and replaced with reserve forces, Hartwig said, but Cushing shouted that he would take his guns to the front lines.
Confederate soldiers advanced into the Union fire, but finally retreated with massive casualties. The South never recovered from the defeat.
The soldier's bravery so inspired one Civil War history buff that he took up Cushing's cause by launching a Facebook page titled "Give Alonzo Cushing the Medal of Honor." Phil Shapiro, a 27-year-old Air Force captain, said such heroism displayed in one of the nation's most pivotal battles deserved recognition, even at this late date.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh has approved the request, leaving a few formal steps before the award becomes official this summer. Cushing will become one of 3,447 recipients of the medal, and the second from the Civil War honored in the last 10 years.
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