Heroic Civil War Soldier from Wisconsin Deserves Medal of Honor

Alonzo Cushing was a true American hero who died in the Battle of Gettysburg.

At only 22 years old, Wisconsin native Alonzo Cushing valiantly led his men into combat during one of the most important battles in American history: the Civil War battle at Gettysburg. He did not survive the battle, but his heroism remains.

In order to honor Alonzo Cushing’s sacrifice and courage, I introduced legislation that would allow the president to award him the Medal of Honor.

Alonzo Cushing was born in Delafield. After graduating from West Point, he was put in command of an artillery battery for the Union Army. Lieutenant Cushing fought bravely in several battles, but his greatest act of heroism would come on July 3, 1863. Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army had marched as far north as Pennsylvania, and Cushing's unit was part of the Union army that confronted Lee near the small town of Gettysburg.

The Battle of Gettysburg lasted three days. On the final day, a large Confederate force led by General George Pickett charged the center of the Union line. Cushing’s unit was hit hard by the attack, and Cushing was shot multiple times. His wounds were serious, and his men urged him to leave the battle for treatment. But Cushing knew how important his artillery were to the defense of the Union line, and he remained at the front to lead his men. In the end, Alonzo Cushing was killed, but the Union won Gettysburg and turned the tide of the Civil War.

During the Civil War, Medals of Honor were rarely awarded posthumously, and there is now a time limitation on awarding the Medal of Honor. Alonzo Cushing has long passed the required time to be awarded the honor. The only way to bypass the time limitation is through an act of Congress.

The effort to honor Alonzo Cushing began with Sen. Russ Feingold, who nominated Alonzo Cushing for the Medal of Honor in 2003. His nomination was then reviewed and approved through the Department of the Army as well as the Secretary of Defense – a rigorous process which took over seven years to complete. My legislation is the next step in the process. It waives the time limitation to allow Alonzo Cushing to receive the Medal of Honor. The final step is approval of the nomination by the president.

Alonzo Cushing was a true American hero. He held his ground at the Battle of Gettysburg despite severe and ultimately fatal wounds, and led his troops to victory. His valor in combat deserves to be recognized with our nation's highest honor. This legislation is an important step to properly honor Wisconsin’s own Alonzo Cushing with the Medal of Honor.

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Bell Anderson April 29, 2012 at 03:03 PM
So, this is what the Senate does instead of passing a budget? At least they aren't wreaking havoc on the Constitution, our way of life, and our great grandchildren's bank accounts. YOU GO, HERB!
Howard Hinterthuer April 29, 2012 at 03:44 PM
What about Pickett? I have no particular stake in this discussion, but I am curious about the questions raised. Is dying bravely the test? If so, what about the rest of the boys? Would the Union Army have succeeded even if Cushing had exited the battle to get treatment for his wounds? How will congress members from the South vote on this question? Does bringing up the question at this time pick the scab off of old wounds that might heal otherwise? Are the Southern dead honored in any way? Should they be? Would it require and Act of Congress? Are all medals for bravery actually awarded on merit? Will awarding a Medal of Honor to Cushing promote healing? If anyone can shed light on these questions, I'd like to hear it.
BRG April 29, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Those who ignore history, or allow it to be forgotten, are doomed to repeat it. I believe this is a great example of due dilligence on the part of Kohl and Feingold.
St. Swithin May 01, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Pickett didn't die, first of all. He wasn't even wounded at Gettysburg. Pickett can't get a Medal of Honor because he was not a soldier in the United States military. He resigned his commission in 1861. He did receive a pardon in 1874, though. In general, Confederate soldiers can expect no more that that from the U.S. government. Many are memorialized throughout the southern states, though. My favorite is Stone Mountain, but you can find plaques and memorials throughout the South. Also, several states make a holiday of Confederate Day. What sort of healing are you looking for, Howard? Many in the South still like to think of the CSA as a glorious cause, but most people have gotten over it. I speak as someone who lived in Georgia for 20 years.
Greg May 01, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Herb is going out with a bang, it's about time he did something. A friend of mine used to eat breakfast with Herb, Herb would order a banana at George Webb's but because he only wanted 1/2 of the banana, he would only pay for 1/2 of the banana. Great minds like his are hard to find, real hard.


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