WESTFIELD – The Medal of Honor awarded to the family of Civil War hero Alonzo H. Cushing was delivered to the Chautauqua County Historical Society’s museum Wednesday. The presentation of the medal to a family member marked the first time that a Medal of Honor was awarded so long after an act of heroism was documented.
John Paul Wolfe, curator and board trustee, said the medal came from Gettysburg, Pa., where it was on display for Memorial Day. After the family received the medal last year, it went first to West Point, where Cushing is buried. “We are the only place to get the medal and accompanying display items,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe was instrumental in helping to confirm that there was a close living relative of Cushing to go to Washington, D.C., and accept the Medal of Honor from President Obama last November.
Wolfe said the relative, Helen Loring Ensign, wanted to share the medal with various people who had an interest in the story of the historic Union Army first lieutenant. He said the family has been a generous benefactor of the county museum and recently purchased a scanner to help digitize records.
After the medal tours various areas, it will be on permanent display in Gettysburg. Cushing, 22, was killed in action July 3, 1863, as he led a historic charge. He is portrayed in a widely known circular painting at the battlefield site.
The medal has also visited Delafield, Wis., where Cushing was born. He spent the first five years of his life in Wisconsin before his mother moved the family to Fredonia.
Alonzo and his brother William are both considered Civil War heroes and have been celebrated in books and movies about the Civil War. The Village of Fredonia was considered home by the brothers, and it is the location of various memorials to them.
The medal and display will be on view in the Lincoln Legacy section of the county museum. The unveiling will be at 1 p.m. June 13, and display items will be in Westfield until early September.
“This will be the biggest Civil War weekend we have ever had,” Wolfe said. He expects about seven groups of re-enactors, including one that represents the artillery battalion that Cushing led.
The re-enactors will have an encampment near the McClurg Museum, and events will include reading letters that the Cushing brothers wrote to their family members in Chautauqua County.