ECW Weekender: Alonzo Cushing Monument

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alonzo_cushingThis past October, I traveled to western New York for a wedding in Fredonia. The small town is located on the shores of Lake Erie and is about an hour or so southwest of Buffalo. A day before the wedding, while enjoying a cup coffee in the hotel restaurant, I formally met the father of the bride, Russ Valvo. It was not long before the conversion turned to Fredonia’s most famous and honored son, Alonzo Cushing. To my great surprise, Russ informed me that we were “not 500 yards” from a Cushing monument in the Pioneer Cemetery.

Although born in Wisconsin, Cushing grew up in Fredonia and nearby Pomfret. The family lived on Green Street and his widowed mother worked as a seamstress and ran a primary school out of their home. “Lon” as he was known to family and friends entered West Point in 1857. He graduated in June 1861, standing twelfth in a class of thirty-four. Cushing received his commission ¬†and served in Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery. He fought at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, where he received brevets for captain and major, respectively.

Cushing Monument in Fredonia New York.
Cushing Monument in Fredonia New York.

At the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, Cushing’s battery was positioned on Cemetery Ridge. During the Confederate artillery bombardment that preceded the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble attack, Cushing was wounded in the shoulder and the abdomen, yet he refused to leave his guns and remained on the field. At the climax of the attack, he was shot through the mouth and died.

“More than once I stood where the brave Cushing gave up his life, right at the peak of Pickett’s Charge” remembered Union officer and fellow West Point classmate Morris Schaff. “Oh that day and that hour! History will not let that smiling, splendid boy die in vain; long her dew will glisten over his record as the earthly morning dew glistens in the fields.”

Schaff’s words were prophetic. In 2014, Cushing was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Gettysburg. The monument is located in near the southwest corner of the cemetery and fronts East Main Street. Cushing rests today in the West Point cemetery.

A closeup of the monument. The phrase "Faithful unto Death" is from Cushing's headstone.
A closeup of the monument. The phrase “Faithful unto Death” is from Cushing’s headstone.

3 Responses to ECW Weekender: Alonzo Cushing Monument

  1. I’m pretty sure Green St. has been renamed Cushing St. Hope you took the time to visit the monument to Lon’s more famous (at the time) sibling, William B. Cushing, on front of the Opera House in town – nice rendition of the sinking of the Albermarle. I wrote a bit on the boys (there is a cenotaph to all four sons and the mother in the cemetery as well) here:

    1. I know of the William Cushing monument but I am going to have to save that for a return trip. It turned out to be a busier weekend than I had initially anticipated. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for the post. I checked Google Maps, and Green St is a short cross street to Cushing St two blocks south of East Main St in Fredonia. My 1990 honeymoon started at the White Inn in Fredonia, and SUNY Fredonia has an excellent music education school I visited during college hunting with one of my children. I will have to walk Green and Cushing during my next visit and thank Cushing’s family at the town cemetery for rearing such brave young men, three of four brothers dying from their military service actions – Alonzo dying age 22 at Gettysburg in 1863, Howard dying age 32 in 1871 during battles against the Apaches of the First Nations, and William dying age 32 in 1874, likely of trauma to his spine due to his Civil War actions.

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