About John Canty Villepigue
John Canty Villepigue (March 29, 1896 - April 18, 1919) was a S.C. National Guard 118th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division, United States Army Corporal who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War I.
Villepigue was a descendent of Confederate States Army General John Bordenave Villepigue, and like John Bordenave Villepigue he was born and raised in Camden, South Carolina. Kershaw County, South Carolina, in which Camden is located, has a rich military history, and was home to several war heroes from different wars.
Villepigue entered the army in Camden, assigned to Company M, 118th Infantry, 30th Division. While fighting near Vaux-Andigny, France, on October 15, 1918, Villepigue and two other soldiers were ordered to scout through the village of Vaux-Andigny. During their trek through the village, they were ambushed by German machine gun fire, which killed one of his fellow soldiers, and wounded the other. Advancing forward on his own for more than 500 yards, with his platoon left far behind, Villepigue encountered four enemy soldiers manning the machine gun pit. He engaged them with handgrenade, killing them. Crawling another 150 yards forward, he encountered a second machine gun pit, which he rushed, alone, killing another four enemy soldiers and capturing another six, along with securing two machine guns. He had been badly wounded in the arm during this action, from which he would later die on April 18, 1919.
Villepigue was buried near John B. Villepigue in the "Old Quaker Cemetery", in his hometown of Camden, South Carolina. That cemetery also maintains the grave of fellow World War I Medal of Honor recipient Richmond Hobson Hilton, the graves of Civil War Confederate Generals Joseph B. Kershaw and John Doby Kennedy, as well as Confederate soldier and hero from the Battle of Fredericksburg, Richard Rowland Kirkland. In 2004, Villepigue was honored by the South Carolina House of Representatives for his heroism during World War I.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization:
Corporal, U.S. Army, Company M, 118th Infantry, 30th Division. Place and date: At Vaux-Andigny, France, October 15, 1918. Entered service at. Camden, S.C. Born: March 29, 1896, Camden, S.C. G.O. No.: 16, W.D., 1919.
Having been sent out with 2 other soldiers to scout through the village of Vaux-Andigny, he met with strong resistance from enemy machinegun fire, which killed 1 of his men and wounded the other. Continuing his advance without aid 500 yards in advance of his platoon and in the face of machinegun and artillery fire he encountered 4 of the enemy in a dugout, whom he attacked and killed with a handgrenade. Crawling forward to a point 150 yards in advance of his first encounter, he rushed a machinegun nest, killing 4 and capturing 6 of the enemy and taking 2 light machineguns. After being joined by his platoon he was severely wounded in the arm.