SGT JOHN KIGGINS
Co. D, 149th New York Infantry
The Battle of Lookout Mountain, Tenn.
24 November 1863.
Citation: 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.
The 149th New York Inf. was ordered to march from their camp in Tennessee and attack a Confederate Position on Lookout Mountain. The plan was to overcome the Confederates by means of sheer numbers – to hit them with a force so vastly superior that they would crumble.
The Union soldiers constructed a hasty bridge over Lookout Creek and engaged the enemy. The Skirmish swiftly developed into a full battle and the men of the 149th were stopped in their tracks, trapped between Northern and Southern lines. Visibility was limited because of the fog and musket smoke.
The 149th was being shelled and fired on by both sides – Union artillery being very effective..
Sgt Kiggins grabbed the Colors, jumped up on a high stump exposing himself to fire from all sides and began waiving the Stars -n- Stripes like a madman.
Union cannoneers immediately ceased firing on the 149th, but Kiggins was out in the open. Confederate troops saw a target as appealing as a 12-point Buck on opening day. Confederate gunners focused on Kiggins, neglecting other targets of opportunity and providing the union lines respite from confederate shelling. The battle swung in favor of the Northerners and the next day Union troops gained control of the mountain.
SGT Kiggins not only saved his men, but he also won the day for the Union.
When it was all over; Kiggins’ clothing was filled with a total of nine bullet holes. The top of his head had been grazed by a bullet, and one bullet entered his thigh, but he survived.
Mustered out with his regiment in June 1865, Kiggins returned to Syracuse, New York, and worked as a night watchman for the Whitman and Barnes Company. He lived in Syracuse until his death on September 29, 1914.
- Painting of Battle showing Kiggins at center waiving flag.