The United States Military Academy cemetery at West Point is filled with storied figures and heroes who fought in all America’s wars. West Point, on the Hudson River in Upstate New York, served as a fort during the Revolutionary War and is the oldest continuously operating Army post in the United States. Captain Thompson, an officer in the Revolutionary War, may have been the first internment at the cemetery here in 1809.
Winfield Scott (1786-1866) is a giant in American military history. He was the longest serving U.S. general, and second to hold the rank of lieutenant general. He led troops in four wars, and conceived the “Anaconda Plan” that ultimately defeated the Confederacy during the American Civil War. He was Commanding General of the United States Army (equivalent to the modern position of Chief of Staff of the Army) for 20 years.
George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876) – his name is synonymous with the American West, and he gained infamy for leading his troops to slaughter against the Plains Indians in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. But before that, he cut a dashing figure as a cavalry officer during the American Civil War, where he rose to the rank of Major General of U.S. Volunteers and fought in numerous battles.
Brig. General Nathaniel Michler (1827-1881) is less well known, but he has an impressive monument. He served as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers during the American Civil War, rising to the brevet (honorary) rank of colonel during the Siege of Petersburg and then breveted brig. general for his service. As an engineer, he left his mark on Washington DC, where he supervised many improvements after the war.
“Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf, Jr. (1934-2012) is widely considered to be the greatest post-Vietnam era American general. Schwarzkopf served as an officer in combat during the Vietnam War, and was named commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM) in 1988. He achieved lasting infamy as commander of Coalition Forces and author of “Operation Desert Storm” during the 1990-1991 Gulf War. In 90 hours, the Iraqi Army, one of the world’s largest, was almost completely destroyed, with minimal U.S. and Coalition casualties.
1st Lt. Alonzo Cushing commanded Battery A, 4th United States Artillery on Cemetery Ridge July 3, 1863. He helped repel “Pickett’s Charge,” a last-ditched Confederate attack on the Union center at the Battle of Gettysburg. Cushing rolled his two remaining canon to the stone wall and ordered his crew to fire “double canister.” As the ragged Confederate lines swept toward him, the wounded Cushing grabbed the lanyard and said, “I will give them one more shot!” He was then stuck in the mouth by a minie ball and killed. He was only 22 years old.
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