I read with great pleasure your piece in “The Week” (December 8) regarding the long-overdue awarding of the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing. However, I feel called upon to question one aspect of your otherwise excellent piece. Lieutenant Cushing may not actually have threatened to shoot any man who retreated from his unit’s position during the Battle of Gettysburg. In the first place, such an act would have been totally alien to Lieutenant Cushing’s gentle character, and in the second place, such a threat would not have been needed. My great-grandfather, Sergeant Frederich Füger, who took over the battery upon Cushing’s death, and who later guarded Cushing’s body until Cushing’s brother Milton arrived to deliver it to West Point, described his commander as follows: “He was a most able soldier, a man of excellent judgment, and great decision of character; he was most faithful in the discharge of every duty, possessed of mental and physical vigor, joined to the kindest of hearts; he commanded the love and respect of all who knew him.”
Thank you again for your acknowledgment of Lieutenant Cushing and his heroism on July 3, 1863.
John G. Northgraves
The Editors reply: Thank you for the explanation, Mr. Northgraves. As you know, many accounts of the Battle of Gettysburg repeat the story of Lieutenant Cushing’s shouted threat, but at this point there is no way to determine what may have been said on a thunderous and chaotic battlefield a century and a half ago. What is not even remotely in doubt, however, is Cushing’s bravery and dedication to the Union, and the justice of his finally joining your great-grandfather on the roll of recipients of our nation’s highest military honor.
A Kinder, Gentler Intelligence
To Ian Tuttle’s spot-on observations about the Left’s love affair with intellect, especially its own (“The IQ Cult,” December 8), I would add that our perception of a person’s intelligence tends to be inversely proportional to our perception of his niceness or warmth. In the United States, that dynamic is correlated with regional accents: Southerners, or at least those who speak like southerners, are felt to be “nicer” than those who speak like northerners, but northerners are felt to be “smarter” and “in charge,” according to a recent study.
Candidates for public office need to balance the two dimensions, perceived intelligence and perceived warmth. A low-information politician can always educate himself, but it’s harder for a cold fish to transform himself into a teddy bear, though he might begin with a dash of self-deprecating humor. When asked about the plight of the intellectual in politics, Adlai Stevenson admitted that “via ovicapitum dura est.”
Mount Pleasant, S.C.