Pinkerton Vaughn was born in 1839 in Downington, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on October 31, 1860, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and served aboard the paddle frigate USS Mississippi during the U.S. Civil War. Sgt. Vaughn was awarded the Medal of Honor on July 10, 1863, for action on March 14, 1863, aboard the Mississippi. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps on November 7, 1864, and was killed in a trolley car accident on August 22, 1866. Pinkerton Vaughn was buried at the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
His Medal of Honor Citation reads:
Serving aboard the U.S.S. MISSISSIPPI during her abandonment and firing in the action with the Port Hudson batteries, 14 March 1863. During the abandonment of the MISSISSIPPI which had to be grounded, Sergeant Vaughn rendered invaluable assistance to his commanding officer, remaining with the ship until all the crew had landed and the ship and been fired to prevent its falling into enemy hands. Persistent until the last, and conspicuously cool under heavy shellfire, Sergeant Vaughn was finally ordered to save himself as he saw fit.