Our look at the Cushing brothers during the American Civil War continues.
On July 3, 1863, the third day of fighting at Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee planned a frontal assault intended to pierce the center of the Union line. This attack is remembered as Pickett’s Charge, named for the Confederate general who commanded the largest division committed. The charge by nine infantry brigades, almost 13,000 men, was preceded by an artillery bombardment from over 100 Confederate guns. The visual objective for the attacking troops was an isolated group of trees visible on Cemetery Ridge.
This ground was defended by Handcock’s Second Corps, and in their midst was Battery A, Fourth U.S. Artillery under the command of Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Alonzo Cushing. Posted by a jog in a stone wall, later known as “the Angle”, Cushing’s battery was at the epicenter of the intense Confederate bombardment. Four of the six 3-inch Ordnance rifles in Battery A were disabled before the Confederate infantry began its advance.
The battery lost so many men to the bombardment that nearby Union infantrymen were drafted to help serve the two surviving cannons. Alonzo Cushing himself was in terrible condition. Wounded in the shoulder and groin by Confederate shells, he was bleeding profusely. Repeatedly urged to leave the field to seek medical attention, Alonzo refused, saying, “I will stay right here and fight it out or die in the attempt.”
This episode was written by Gary Pollard.
Gary is a retired lawyer and businessman who spent most of his career in legal publishing. He now lives near Denver, Colorado. Raised on the north bank of the Potomac River near Washington, D.C., Gary acquired a love for the American Civil War through travels with his father among the region’s battlefields. This early exposure has grown into a lifelong interest in history generally. The story of the Cushing brothers is an extension of a presentation to the Rocky Mountain Civil War Roundtable, which meets in Littleton, Colorado