A very impressive day of service at Lineville Methodist Church! I want to thank all the Riflemen who made the trip to save the beautiful G.A.R. stained glass window from demolition. A fantastic job, ‘Boys’…Well Done, Brothers! You make me proud to be part of this honorable group!
The motto of Company A, 49th Iowa Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment
An Event Not to Be Missed
An Event Not to Be Missed…
A Film by Ken Burns Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 8:00 p.m. on Local Public Television Stations Nationwide
Across the river from filmmaker Ken Burns’ home in New Hampshire, is the town of Putney, Vermont. Putney is home to the Greenwood School for fifty young men with learning disabilities. Every year, in November, the boys are assigned the task of memorizing President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address; and then participate in a public recital of those immortal lines of prose that many consider to be the finest words ever written in the English language at around the anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday each February.
Burns said, You and I can memorize it with some effort, but it’s a minefield for these boys. What they do is so heroic that the first time I was asked to be a judge, I just wept.
A film crew recorded the project for three months as the boys received their assignments, practiced, and recited the Address during the recent incredibly moving competition. The project is a story of hard work and determination, and shows how those monumental words still have the power to change lives one-hundred-and fifty years after they were spoken by President Lincoln on that wind-swept hillside in Pennsylvania in November of 1863.
From this film has come the idea for another effort that is underway to have everyone in this nation memorize the words of the Gettysburg Address. To learn more about that undertaking, visit the website at www.learntheaddress.org.
And, please set your DVR’s and recorders for 8:00pm on April 15th, 2014.
Inscription on the gravestone of Bvt. Maj. Alonzo H. Cushing, West Point Cemetery, United States Military Academy, New York
Few ardent Civil War historians, or aficionados, do not know the heroic story of Bvt. Major Alonzo H. Cushing’s tragic death while commanding his beloved Battery “A” 4th United States artillery on the third day of the ferocious fighting the engulfed Cemetery Ridge, just outside the small Pennsylvania hamlet of Gettysburg on July 3rd, 1863.
Cushing, a native of Delafield, Wisconsin, had been born on a cold and wind-swept January 19th, 1841, but had moved with his family to Fredonia, New York where he spent his youth. On the day in June of 1861 that he graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Cushing was promoted to both Second an First Lieutenant and immediately pressed into the service of his nation as an officer of artillery. He was brevetted to the rank of Major immediately following the Battle of Chancellorsville, and on July 3rd, 1863, his battery of US Regulars, consisting of 110 men, bore the brunt of the heaviest fusillade of artillery ever unleashed on American soil as Confederate gunners brought their artillery to bear directly upon Cushing’s positions before the fateful charge of General George Pickett’s 13,000 infantry bore down directly upon them.
Seeing the advancing lines of gray-clad troops through the smoke of the bombardment Cushing asked, and received from his commanding officer, permission to move his remaining serviceable artillery pieces forward to the small stone wall to their immediate front; lowered the muzzles of his pieces to near zero elevation and fired round after round of canister into the on-coming Confederate lines. Almost immediately, Cushing was wounded by a shell fragment that tore through his shoulder but when a second piece of hot steel tore open his abdomen and caused his intestines to spill from his body, Cushing’s commander ordered him to the rear to seek medical attention. Refusing to leave his Battery in the face of the on-rushing enemy, Cushing held his intestines in place and, aided by his faithful 1st Sergeant Frederick Fuger, remained in command of his battery until a bullet tore through his open mouth and exited through the back of his skull. He died on the field of battle at the height of the assault, never living to know of the defeat that his efforts helped to inflict upon the ill-fated men of Pickett’s Division.
Alonzo Cushing was 22 years old at the time of his death. Following his death, Cushing would be posthumously brevetted to the rank of Lt. Colonel.
Following the Battle of Gettysburg, Alonzo Cushing’s remains were returned to his family where he was interred in the West Point Cemetery in Section 26, Row A, Grave 7. At the request of his mother, his headstone was engraved with the simple epithet, Faithful unto Death.
Normally, recommendations for the awarding of the Medal of Honor, must be made within two years of the courageous action; but for reasons unknown, the heroism of Alonzo Cushing went more or less officially unrecognized by any except the men who had witnessed the events on that fateful July day in 1863.
It was not until 2002 that Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, officially nominated Cushing for the Medal of Honor, following a lengthy investigation into the matter.
The United States Army formally endorsed the Senator’s request and added its own recommendation to Congress in February of 2010, and word was received on May 20th of that same year that the way had been cleared for the award. Still…the wheels ground so slowly, that it was not until December 20th, 2013, that the United States Congress issued an Immediate Press Release indicating that, through the bi-partisan efforts of Representative Ron Kind (Dem-WI), and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included the final authorization for the award of the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing, for his conspicuous acts of bravery in the face of the enemy on July 3rd, 1863, had been passed into law.
Commenting on the passage of this landmark piece of legislation, Representative Kind, said, “it is never too late to do the right thing, especially when it comes to honoring our war heroes. I am heartened to be joined by my colleagues in Congress in sending this bill to the President so we as a nation can finally honor Lt. Cushing with this well-deserved Medal of Honor.”
“Lieutenant Cushing was a courageous leader who gave his life to protect our country and deserves to be recognized for his bravery, “ Rep. Sensenbrenner said, “I am extremely pleased that the Cushing amendment was passed by the House and Senate and hopeful President Obama awards Lieutenant Cushing with the Medal of Honor for his heroic service during the Civil War.
For further reading on the life of this remarkable young man, it is recommended that the reader seek out a copy of “Cushing of Gettysburg” by Kent Masterson Brown, Lexington; University Press of Kentucky, 1993, ISBN 0-8131-1837-9. See also, Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery – The Civil War Compendium (http://artillery.onlineheadquarters.net/units).
Iowa Lottery Kicks Off New Game to Benefit Veterans
Des Moines, 6 January, 2014
Captain Ronald Rittel and myself represented both the 49th Iowa VVI, and the 4th Military District/SVR at the kick-off event held at Capitol Square on this frigid Monday morning that unveiled the newest $1.00 scratch ticket game of the Iowa Lottery.
Although outside air temperatures still hovered at around -10 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit, a stalwart crowd of citizens, veterans, and press were on hand to witness the event as Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich, Iowa Lottery Security Director (and Dodge Camp Brother ) Steve Bogle were joined by Col. Robert King, Director of Veterans Affairs for the State of Iowa, and several other government and corporate dignitaries to announce that the new scratch ticket, called “Ride to Victory” will have a portion of the proceeds of its sales go directly to aid some of the needs of Iowa more than 220,000 veterans.
Iowa Artist, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II (famous as the painter of Iowa’s “Freedom Rock” near Greenfield, Iowa ) was on hand to also help officials unveil the one-of-a-kind 2013 Victory Boardwalk motorcycle that he has done a custom paint job on. This magnificent piece of “rolling art” will be given away as a grand prize in the ‘2nd chance drawing” of non-winning lottery tickets in late March, 2014.
Col. Robert King thanked the Lottery officials for their unflagging support of veterans causes; and, thanked Mr. Sorenson on behalf of all Iowa military veterans for his dedication to honoring those who have served this state and nation in the uniforms of our country’s military services.
Casey’s General Stores President and CEO Robert Myers (a 20+ year veteran of the United States Army, himself) and other members of his Management Team were also on-hand for the event. Casey’s has been a long-time supporter of Iowa’s veterans and has been instrumental in helping Bubba Sorensen with his yearly refurbishing of the “Freedom Rock”.
Tickets for the “Ride to Victory” officially went on sale at all lottery retail outlets at noon today. It is anticipated that the sales of these tickets will result in several millions of dollars in ticket sales.
Iowa Veteran’s Cemetery, Van Meter, Iowa December 14th, 2013
For the fifth consecutive year, members of The Governor’s Own Iowa Rifles took part in the unit tradition of honoring this nation’s military veterans at Christmas time by making a monetary contribution to the purchasing of wreaths; and, attending the annual Wreaths Across America Project headed by former Director of Veteran’s Affairs, Mr. Patrick Palmersheim.
Although fielding a somewhat smaller contingent than in past years, Regimental Color Sergeant Michael J. Rowley, Drill Sergeant Ronald Rittel, Color Sergeant Henry Krecklow and newly promoted Color Sergeant Louie Zenti represented the regiment at this year’s event. Sgt. Rittel’ wife, Sister Marilyn Rittel of the Grenville M. Dodge Camp (Des Moines) Auxiliary also attended the event.
On Saturday, 12-07-2013 Cpl. David Sample and I, along with our lovely ladies, Cathy and Deb, traveled to Albia, Iowa to represent the 49th "Iowa Rifles" at the Albia Victorian Stroll. This event has grown in scope and size by at least ten fold in the last three or four years. The whole downtown area and Main Street were lighted with luminaries and traffic was diverted around so you could freely wander the streets to view the many live window scenes provided by the local citizenry.
From 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. we traveled around the downtown area stopping occasionally to sample the cookies and hot drinks purchased from various vendors. We also stopped and entered the various business's that were open, to warm our ears, fingers and toes, as the temperatures were approaching single digits.
We visited with a re-enactor group from the Third Iowa Artillery known as Clark's Battery. They had a campsite complete with tent, a fired up, small iron stove, and one of their cannons. The Battery Commander, Bruce Clark invited us to participate in their "after display" meal that was held in an upstairs room over the Brew Pub on the Square. After the meal we participated in a door prize drawing and ended the night by singing Christmas Hymns a Capella.
This past weekend, as Color-Sergeant Grim, Sergeant Rittel, and myself took part in the activities surrounding the SVR/MOLLUS annual Remembrance Day activities at the Gettysburg National Battlefield Military Park, we were reminded that this year also marked the one-hundred and fiftieth anniversary of President Lincoln’s immortal Gettysburg Address that followed the incredible carnage of the fighting in those rolling hills of the Pennsylvania countryside.
Lincoln’s speech, that he believed , the World will little note, nor long remember, have stood the test of time to a far greater degree than our martyred President would have ever believed; and, have gone down into the history books as what many word-smiths believe to be greatest piece of prose ever written in the English language. Two-hundred and seventy-two words that have completely captivated the imagination of an entire nation for four entire generations and, arguably, are better known throughout the world than the utterances of any other political leader of any age. Not bad for a backwoods-born shopkeeper, “river-boat-man”, turned rail-splitter, turned lawyer/politician.
But, those who study Lincoln, know that these utterances were but typical of the eloquence that he brought to his command of the language. Both his first and second Inaugural Addresses are other shining examples of that eloquence that swayed a nation during troubled times.
Oddly enough, one piece of writing that is often mistakenly attributed to Lincoln is the October 3rd, 1863 proclamation of a formal National Day of Thanksgiving. While the idea for the proclamation itself may have ultimately come from Lincoln, the document was actually written for the President by Secretary of State William Seward. The original document was sold in 1864 to a private collector in order to raise monies, “to benefit the troops”.
The President was moved to issue this proclamation because of the entreaties of a 74 year-old newspaper editor named Sarah Josepha Hale (editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book)
who had been unsuccessfully petitioning Presidents and national politicians with the idea of standardizing such a day for over fifteen years. Prior to Lincoln’s proclamation setting aside a particular date for the celebration of this national holiday, several states did celebrate such a day, but on different dates. Even Lincoln himself had once closed all Federal government offices (Nov 28th, 1861) so that government workers might enjoy a day of rest and thanksgiving with their families. George Washington had mandated a national day of thanksgiving on October 3rd, 1789.
Claiming no eloquence such as that of any of the afore-mentioned linguistic giants, I would, nonetheless wish to take this opportunity to thank each and every member of this command for the continuing effort and support that you have shown to the 49th Iowa and to me, personally, over the course of the past year. This has been a year of monumental accomplishments by this group, and all of you who participated in those efforts can be justly proud of all that has transpired and the enormous amount of progress that we have made together in forwarding the goal of truly paying homage to our ancestors. We have much more to do, and many more efforts await us in the future. I know that we will, collectively, continue to place our shoulders to the tasks that await and do what we always do…..continue the march!
Please enjoy the upcoming Holidays with your families and friends, and keep your “Go-To” bags packed and your brass shined…..there is much more to come. You are not going to believe what is coming…just over the horizon.
Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours!
1/Lt. David M. Lamb Commanding Company “A” 49th Regiment Iowa Veteran Volunteer Infantry/SVR The Governor’s Own Iowa Rifles Honor Guard Regiment to the Department of Iowa Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Once again, as we have at each of the 49th Iowa's excursions to the Remembrance Day events in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, guardsmen of the Regiment and Mrs. Marilyn Rittel representing the Ladies Auxiliary and the Iowa WRC paid tribute to the memory of Mary Virginia Wade by visiting her grave site, and laying of a single red rose in commemoration to the tragic loss of her life in the earliest fighting on July 1st, 1863.
Poignantly, during the brief ceremony, a bugler at the National Military Cemetery immediately adjacent to Evergreen rendered his own salute to the only civilian casualty of the battle by playing "taps" as if on cue as the members of The Governors Own saluted.