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John Bordenave Villepigue was born in Camden, South Carolina on July 2, 1830. He graduated from West Point in 1854.
Villepigue was serving in Utah under General A. Johnson against the indians when it was learned that South Carolina had seceded. Villepigue rode by horseback to Montgomery, Alabama to enter into Confederate service.
He was given the rank of Colonel of the Regulars, and posted to Fort McRae at Pensacola, Florida.
During the defense of Fort McRae, Villepigue was wounded, but his coolness under fire inspired his volunteers to fight with the tenacity of veterans.
After Fort McRea, Villepigue was appointed chief of engineers and artillery on the staff of General Bragg, was for a time in command at Pensacola, then was at Mobile, and joining Bragg was promoted brigadier-general early in 1862. He was assigned to command at Fort Pillow on the Mississippi, General Beauregard sending him there as "the most energetic young officer" at his command. Week after week he held the open batteries, and kept back the enemy's superior land and naval forces until ordered to retire, when he blew up his fortifications and brought off his command in safety, June 4th. He then joined forces with Van Dorn under whom he fought in the battle of Cornith. His exertions as rear-guard in protecting the Confederate retreat while suffering from malaria lead to his collapse and death at Port Hudson, La. on November 9th, 1862.

Villepigue earned the praise of his peers.
General Bragg said of Villepigue:" an educated soldier possessing in an eminent degree the confidence of his officers and his men. He has been specially selected for this service. The result fully vindicated the fortunate choice."
He was also referred to as "the most gallant officer of Beauregard's command."

As anyone might imagine, many of the Confederates that served in the war of Southern Independence had some difficulties in leaving the Union. Villepigue was no exception:
"As the sunset gun fired, I stood under the Stars and Stripes and as the last rays of the sun gleamed upon its glorious folds, I turned away from it forever.
Will you wonder that my chin sank upon my breast and that the tears coursed down my cheeks as I bade farewell to the flag I loved so well ?"
~ From a letter sent to Colonel W.M. Shannon.
Colonel Shannon comments: "Who will believe as his heroic form flashed at Shiloh, ever at the head of his brigade, he struck at that flag ? You may deem him mistaken, you may deem him in error, but you cannot deem a pure immaculate spirit like his a traitor. The soldier leaves such epithets for the politician whose fight commences when the war is over."


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