Date: Monday, March 16, 2015
Time: 6:00 p.m. (Social Hour: 5:15 p.m.)
Place: The Campbell House
Directions to the Campbell House can be found here.
- Meeting reservations are due by March 11, 2015.
- Cancellations due to Ollie Puckett, (859) 744-7881 or firstname.lastname@example.org within 72 hours of themeeting (March 13, 2015) as we are charged for all dinners ordered, including those of guests.
- Cost of Meal: $28 CHECKS ACCEPTABLE (TO SPEED THE LINE, PLEASE HAVE CHECKS MADE OUT PRIOR TO GETTING IN LINE).
Brig. Gen. Jack Mountcastle
“Desperate Days — the Battles around Petersburg, 1864-65”
John W. (Jack) Mountcastle was born and raised in Richmond, VA. Graduating from VMI in 1965, he began serving as an Army officer in 1966. During his Army career, he commanded tank units at all levels from platoon through armored brigade. He served twice in Vietnam and spent a total of ten years in Germany during the Cold War. During the 1970s, Jack earned an MA and PhD from Duke University and taught Military History at West Point. Promoted to Brigadier General in 1994, he assumed the duties of the Army Chief of Military History in Washington, D.C. He returned to Richmond upon retiring from the Army in 1998. He teaches Civil War history courses at the University of Richmond, lectures at the Virginia Historical Society, and is past president of the Richmond Civil War Round Table. He is proud to be a member of the Civil War Trust and several regional battlefield preservation organizations. General Mountcastle maintains his interest in leadership studies and leads professional development programs for military and corporate groups at selected battle areas in the United States and in Europe. He and his wife Susan live in Glen Allen, VA.
UPCOMING SPEAKERS FOR 2014 – 2015
May 18, 2015 – Hon. Frank Williams, Chief Justice Of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, retired
Speech given by Kent Masterson Brown at the 151 st Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in the Soldiers National Cemetery, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 2014
President Abraham Lincoln dedicated this cemetery on this day, 151 years ago, to “those who here gave their lives that [our] Nation might live.” Those brave “men, living and dead who struggled here,” Lincoln said, “have consecrated these grounds far above our poor power to add or detract.” “The world,” he said, “can never forget what they did here.”
Indeed, our Nation must never forget what they did here. Over the past two months the world has been reintroduced to one young man who struggled and died here – Lt. Alonzo Hereford Cushing. Cushing was dark-haired, dark-complected, and his large, expressive blue eyes, toothy smile and kind heart, endeared him to all who knew him. At twenty-two years of age – and only two years out of West Point – he displayed such valor commanding Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, at the Angle on July 3, that he won a place in the hearts of all of those with whom he fought, a place at the epicenter of artist Paul Philippoteaux’s great Gettysburg Cyclorama, a place in Stephen Vincent Benet’s epic poem, “John Brown’s Body,”and, on November 6, 2014, a place alongside the 1,556 officers and men from the Civil War who have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The glory of Cushing being awarded the Medal of Honor, 151 years after he died here, is that our Nation has paused to remember. News stories of Cushing have abounded in recent days; they have spoken of Cushing himself, but they also have spoken of those with whom he fought, others who similarly deserve the Medal, the determined defense of Cemetery Ridge, the horrific number of casualties here, and the victory that led to what Lincoln referred to in this cemetery as “a new
birth of freedom.” Our Nation paused to remember.
To remember is to be inspired, and our Nation desperately needs inspiration, particularly from such selfless heroes as Alonzo Cushing who, in Lincoln’s words here, “gave the last full measure of devotion” to our country. Although coursing through Cushing’s veins was blood of Mayflower pilgrims, he was born and grew up in relative poverty. The undying affection and attention of a widowed mother, who sacrificed all she had to make her children’s lives worthy, provided Cushing a living example of selfless devotion to duty.
Cushing was graduated from West Point twelfth in a class of thirty-two in June 1861. He saw action at First Bull Run, the Peninsula, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville as, at times, a staff officer to commanders of the Second Corps and of the Army of the Potomac and as an artillery officer.
Here, as commander of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, he was assigned to hold what became known as “the Angle,” the center of the Union Army. On July 3, 1863 his battery received much of the incessant and horrific fire from 150 Confederate artillery pieces for more than one and one-half hours preceding the attack of Pickett’s, Pettigrew’s and Trimble’s Confederate divisions. During that heavy bombardment, four of Cushing’s six artillery pieces and most of his
limbers were destroyed. The ground was strewn with the dead and wounded cannoneers of his battery. Dead and wounded horses lay in heaps, still attached to their limbers. In the midst of the chaos, Cushing was wounded in the right shoulder by a fragment from a bursting enemy shell. Minutes later, another incoming shell exploded nearby, mangling his groin and genitals. Fast losing blood, Cushing became deathly ill. His First Sergeant, Frederick Fuger, begged him to go to the rear. “No,” Cushing said, “I’ll stay and fight it out or die in the attempt.” With the thumb stall charred through excessive use, Cushing stoppered the vent of the artillery piece he helped serve with his bare thumb, scorching it to the bone. His pain and agony was beyond our comprehension.
The massive Confederate assault force – nearly 12,000 officers and men – stepped forward through the heavy sulphurous smoke, their route being directed toward Cushing’s position. In spite of heavy losses, Cushing told General Alexander Stewart Webb, who would also be awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor that day, that he would move his remaining two guns closer to the stone wall. Cushing had lost so many cannoneers that Webb directed men from his 71 st
Pennsylvania to help man one of the two guns. In three hours of fighting, Cushing’s battery would pour nearly three tons of ordnance into the enemy before it was all over. As Pickett’s Virginians were within about 100 yards of Cushing’s remaining two guns, the brave young lieutenant ordered the guns loaded with treble rounds of canister. By this time, Cushing had become faint and unable to stand up by himself; Sergeant Fuger held Cushing’s mangled and bloody frame upright. As the massive Confederate force stopped and let loose ferocious volleys of musketry, Cushing faintly told Fuger to “Fire!” Fuger yelled the command. Just then, a bullet hit Cushing just below the nose, drilling its way to the base of his brain. He fell on his knees and then into Fuger’s arms. Fuger lowered his dead and bloodied commander to the ground, Cushing’s head toward the enemy. Cushing had fought for more than two hours after receiving his terrible wounds. The attack, though, was all but broken by the time he died.
Cushing’s brief, heroic life may be summarized in the beautiful words of the soldier’s prayer:
Teach us, good Lord, to serve thee as thou deservest;
to give and not count the cost;
to fight and not heed the wounds;
to toil and not seek for rest;
to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that
of knowing that we do thy will.
By the time the fighting had ended, all six of the guns of Cushing’s battery had been dismounted and their wheels and carriages reduced to splinters. All the limbers and most of the caissons had been destroyed. Twenty-nine battery horses had been killed; thirty-six more fatally wounded. Seven of the battery’s officers and men had been killed; thirty-three wounded; many would die in the hours and days to come. Four of those who died alongside Cushing are buried in his cemetery. Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, virtually ceased to exist.
Lt. Alonzo Hereford Cushing, the latest recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, was described years after the war by his loyal and brave First Sergeant, who also won the Medal of Honor for his valor on July 3. “Cushing,” recalled Sergeant Fuger, “was a most able soldier, a man of excellent judgment, and great decision of character; devoted to his profession, he was most faithful in the discharge of every duty, accurate and thorough in its performance; possessed of
mental and physical vigor, joined to the kindest of hearts, he commanded the love and respect of all who knew him. His superiors placed implicit confidence in him, as well they might. His fearlessness and resolution, displayed in numerous actions, were unsurpassed and his noble death at Gettysburg should present an example for emulation to patriotic defenders of the country through all time to come.”
Cushing’s last earthly remains rest at West Point as he requested. His spirit, though, will remain alive in the hearts and souls of a remembering and grateful Nation forever, for in Lincoln’s words here: “[we] can never forget what they did here.”
Chris Anderson, Treasurer Currently our membership stands at 363 with 6 Honorary members. If you have paid your dues, you should have received your new membership card with your name and 2014-2015 on the card. Again, there will be a separate line for those who do NOT have a membership card or have NOT paid their dues.
A GENTLE REMINDER: Dues paid by between January 1st and March 31st – $60; Failure to pay dues by March 31 st Member falls of the Membership Roll; For Re-instatement – $25 plus the dues for that year. If you plan to pay by check, please have the check made out to KCWRT prior to getting in the line in order to save time. We need to focus on recruiting new members. Please bring a guest to our meeting which will be March 16, 2015. At the January meeting I announced that the Campbell House was raising the cost of our meal to $28. This represents the first increase in cost in many years, and it was not unexpected. What was unexpected was that it was such a modest increase. The Campbell House has been completely renovated, giving us a ballroom that is not only beautiful and comfortable, but big enough to accommodate our large attendance. It guarantees our meeting dates, provides us fine meals with good service and always gives our speaker a nice room at a very reasonable rate. Beyond all that, the facility is conveniently located and has ample parking just outside the entrance to the ballroom. The roundtable is indeed fortunate. I know you will all agree. REMEMBER – if you made reservations and were unable to attend a meeting and did not cancel within the required 72 hours of the meeting time, please check to see if you still owe for the meal for which we had to guarantee payment. We have several members who still need to pay for a “missed meal.” Please try and make your payment ASAP. For those who have not paid for their missed meal, we will be sending out a reminder for you to please take care of this payment. Please remember the Round Table is an IRC 501(C)(3) tax exempt organization and your contributions and dues are tax deductible. Your contributions and dues will help to provide quality programs in the coming year. Anyone wishing a copy of the annual or interim financial statements can request a copy by emailing your request to email@example.com.
A.J. Singleton I am happy to report that things went smoothly at the January meeting. We still have a few members who are calling late and we do try our best to accommodate them. I have heard good comments on the last couple of meals and I am sorry I had to miss the January meeting. Just a reminder, if you need to cancel a reservation, you now need to contact Ollie Puckett, Kentucky Civil War Roundtable Administrative Assistant at ((859) 744-7881) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than 4:00 p.m. on the Friday before the meeting (in this case, March 13, 2015). If you have made a reservation and cannot make the meeting, but do not timely cancel, you will be charged $28 per person for having reserved a meal. This is because the Kentucky Civil War Round Table will be charged for the meal(s).