Saturday, November 24, 2012

Waving The American Flag

Union Sergeant John Kiggins of the 149th New York was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on November 24th 1863 at the Battle of Lookout Mountain.

John Kiggins was born February 2nd 1837 in DeRuyter, Madison, New York.

Kiggins enlisted September 2nd 1862, and became a Sergeant on November 1st 1863.  On November 24th 1863 the 149th New York moved on Lookout Mountain from the Tennessee side of the mountain.  The plan was to overwhelm the Confederates on the Lookout Mountain by sheer force of numbers.  As the fight got rolling, a heavy fog layed over the lower mountain.  The men of the 149th found themselves stuck in between the Confederate line in their front and friendly fire coming from their rear.   Kiggins a Sergeant in Company D of the 149th could see the men were in a predicament, and he grabbed a large American flag, stood up on a stump and began waving it over his head.  This movement stop the fire on the 149th coming from their rear, but made Kiggins a great target for Confederates in his front.  Kiggins found nine bullet holes in his uniform, the top of his head was grazed by a bullet and one shot went through his thigh.  In the end the Union won the Battle the next day.

Kiggins would be wounded again May 25th 1864 in the shoulder at the Battle of New Hope Church.  He didn’t return to his unit until April 23rd 1865 at Raleigh, North Carolina.

Kiggins returned after the war to Syracuse, New York where he worked for the Whitman and Barnes Company a tool making company as a night watchman.  He was awarded the Medal of Honor on January 12th 1892.  The citation for the award reads, “Waved the colors to save the lives of the men who were being fired upon by their own batteries, and thereby drew upon himself a concentrated fire from the enemy.”  Kiggins died in Syracuse, New York September 29th 1914.  He is buried in the Bath National Cemetery in Bath, Steuben, New York.

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