There are not a great many photos of Will Cushing, and nearly all of the ones we have are from various sessions Will spent at Mathew Brady‘s studios. One exception is the group portrait of Admiral Porter and his captains, taken in December 1864, in which Will is included. That photo appears on this site.
Now comes another photo from that session. It has been in the hands of private collectors, most recently a Maryland man named Peter Tuite, who has donated the photo, along with a ceremonial sword presented to Cushing by his fellow officers, to the US Naval Academy Museum.
The director of the museum, Claude Berube, and the chief curator, James Cheevers, allowed me to publish the photo in the April issue of Smithsonian.
I love the picture. Here Will is lounging on deck of the USS Malvern–the ships he captains–, in a posture totally inappropriate for a senior officer, but that is so perfect for a too cool for school 22 year-old who has just become a national hero and whose face is on the cover of Harper’s Weekly. The next best thing is in the lower right hand corner, where Admiral Porter, arms on hips, fumes at his young hero. It’s hilarious.
Thanks to a choice George Washington once made to locate his headquarters there, Morristown, New Jersey, is far more widely associated with the American Revolution than the Civil War. Still, about sixty members of the North Jersey Civil War Round Table showed up the at Frelinghuysen Arboretum (a magnificent estate that appears to have been about two warm weeks short of spectacular) to hear my talk about Will Cushing. They were a great group, friendly and knowledgable, and an enjoyable time was had by all. Thanks to Rich Rosenthal for inviting me, and for an excellent dinner at the very classy Rod’s Steakhouse.
I had a great time last Wednesday, when I delivered a talk on CommanderWill Cushing at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis as part of the Shifley Lecture series. A crowd of perhaps 50 or so, divided among midshipmen, officers and civilians attended, and I hope they enjoyed the talk at least half as much as I did, because I thought it went exceptionally well. Before and after, I got to talk with Mr. James Cheevers, the head curator of the museum. He had an incredible number of stories which he relayed in impressive detail. Thanks again to Mr. Claude Berube, the director of the museum, and to his staff for inviting me and showing me such hospitality. Pictures: Top, Mr. Cheevers and me in front of the Tripoli Monument; left, me, emerging from the head of a silhouetted midshipman; right, my host, Mr. Berube, telling me about his favorite scene from Pentagon Wars.
Insurance companies have been giving away calendars forever, but when M.M. Collis of Portsmouth, NH wanted to impress his clients in 1900, he distributed a dramatic day-runner that featured four naval heroes in full, thrilling color: John Paul Jones, Stephen Decatur, Lt. Richmond Hobson of the Spanish-American War, and our own Will Cushing. I can’t say the uncredited artist did justice to Will’s likeness, but he did a good job of capturing the action. Thanks to the Portsmouth Historical Society for preserving this gem.
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