The White House announced on Tuesday it would award the Medal of Honour to an Army officer who distinguished himself during the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg more than 151 years ago.
Army artillery officer 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing continued to issue orders despite being wounded numerous times in the bloody battle, and will receive the posthumous award on Sep. 15. According to the Washington Post, relatives of Cushing and others have spent decades lobbying on the soldier’s behalf.
From the White House statement:
First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing will receive the Medal of Honour posthumously for his actions while serving as commanding officer of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac. Cushing distinguished himself during combat operations against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1863.
A graduate of West Point, Cushing was just 22-years-old when he was killed in the battle. On the battle’s third day, Cushing’s unit faced the Confederate “Pickett’s Charge” and his artillery battery took heavy losses.
The Army has more:
Cushing manned the only remaining, and serviceable, field piece in his battery. During the advance, he was wounded in the stomach as well as in the right shoulder. 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. 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. Cushing is buried with full honours at his alma mater, West Point.
Once he receives the award, Cushing will be the 64th soldier to receive the nation’s highest award for the Battle of Gettysburg. (Important sidenote: Aside from a “certificate of merit,” the Medal of Honour, created in 1861, was the only valor award for soldiers at that time).
On the same day as Cushing’s award, President Obama will also be awarding the Medal of Honour to two other soldiers, Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins and Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat, for separate acts of heroism during the Vietnam War.
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