Thursday, March 25, 2010

Alonzo Cushing Awarded Medal of Honor 147 years after his death - Civil War Hero had local Tri-State Area Ties

On July 3, 1863, Alonzo Hereford (Lon) Cushing, commander of the famed Cushing's Battery, Battery A, 4th Artillery, died during Pickett's Charge at Cemetery Ridge next to the artillery guns he refused to leave. It was the third and final day of the Gettysburg battle. Cushing was just 22 years old. After his death he was postumeously promoted to the rank of Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel.

Now, 147 years after his death, Cushing will be honored with a medal of Honor in recognition of his heroism. The secretary of the Army has approved the request, which must pass a few more hurdles before it will be signed by the president. The military will then present the Medal of Honor to Cushing's family during a ceremony.

Cushing spent most of his life in Delafield, Wisconsin, but surprisingly, his family is closely connected to the local tri-state area.

His father Dr. Milton Buckingham Cushing and his two uncles Alonzo and Dr. Zattu Cushing were born in the state of New York.

Milton graduated from Hamilton College, Utica, New York and entered the medical profession. Finding his practice too arduous, he embarked on a mercantile career and was a merchant in Zanesville, Ohio, for many years. He then removed to Chicago, Illinois, where he resumed his medical practice. He died in Gallipolis, Gallia, Ohio in 1847. Aside from taking a prominent part in educational matters, he was one of the pioneers in the anti-slavery and temperance movements. At his funeral an eulogist said "...He was a conscientious and active antislavery man and gave liberally of this money, and his time and thought, to assist in bringing freedom to the colored

Dr. Zattu Cushing settled in Eastern Kentucky and was married on July 2, 1840 to Ann White Smith at Louisa, Lawrence County, Kentucky. Unlike his brother Milton, Zattu was not opposed to the idea of slavery. In 1850, he was listed as a slave holder in Lawrence County, Kentucky Census, with one slave. By 1852, Zattu and his family had moved to Catlettsburg, KY but were living in Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky in 1860, where Zattu operated a sawmill. He died in Covington in 1869.

Milton's youngest brother Alonzo Cushing settled in Gallipolis, Ohio, where he was a practicing attorney for more than forty years. He also served as State Senator, Prosecuting Attorney and Postmaster. Shortly before the eruption of the Civil War, he was elected chairman and presided over a large Union meeting that took place at Catlettsburg, Boyd County, Kentucky, on February 22, 1861.
Speakers from North-eastern Kentucky, North-western Virginia, and Middle Southern Ohio as well as Indiana presented their views about the threatened break-down of the Government of the fathers of 1776. On this occasion, Alonzo Cushing gave an able and patriotic speech.
Cushing later moved to WV where he served as member of the Constitutional convention. He died on his farm in Mercer's Bottom, Mason Co. WV, in 1877.

It may be noted that Brvt. Lt. Col. Alonzo H. Cushing's bother William Barker Cushing also gained fame, as one of the most daring Naval commanders of the Civil War. His two most famous acts are the nighttime raid and destruction of the formidable Confederate ram CSS Albemarle and his leading of the naval brigade in the assault upon Fort Fisher, North Carolina.

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