Sheriff Lewis Walker of Crawford County confirmed that the grave which was dug up was that of Confederate veteran James A. Nichols. The grave is located in the Old Bethel Methodist Church Cemetery on Causey Road; and the GBI has now been brought in to continue the investigation. The Confederate veteran status of the deceased has led authorities to suspect that a search for historical artifacts may have been the motivation for the desecration.
James Nichols originally enlisted in Company F, 2nd Regiment, 1st Brigade of the Georgia State Troops — part of the Georgia state militia — in 1861 where he was elected to serve as second lieutenant until the unit became Company F, 57th Regiment of the Georgia Infantry in May of 1862; at that time, Nichols was again elected by the men of his company to serve as second lieutenant. Nichols served honourably with this unit in Tennessee and Kentucky and, eventually, in Mississippi as part of T.H. Taylor’s Brigade. Nichols was present during the defense of Vicksburg and was ultimately captured during the siege; he was later involved in a prisoner exchange and subsequently rejoined the 57th Georgia Infantry for the valiant effort to stop Sherman’s marauding invaders at many places between Chattanooga and Atlanta in 1864. Lt. Nichols died about a year after the war, suffering the terrible effects of illness that the contracted during the War.
Grave desecration is a felony criminal offense in Georgia, whether or not artifacts were taken; and anyone with knowledge of the crime who do not volunteer their information to authorities before the initial arrest is made may also be arrested as accessories. The Crawford County Sheriff’s office and GBI are urging anyone who believes they have information about this crime to contact them immediately; they can do so by calling the sheriff’s office at 478.836.3116. The reward offered by the Sons of Confederate Veterans is intended to encourage citizens who might initially be apprehensive about taking the time to get involved. Georgia SCV Brigade Commander Thomas Stevens had this to say, “The desecration of any grave is inexcusable, but desecrating the grave of a veteran who put his life on the line for the people of Georgia is vile and revolting. We believe that it is likely that someone else may know something about this crime by now, and we are hoping that their goodness and sense of morality will lead them to contact the authorities.”
For more information about the Sons of Confederate Veterans or any of this year’s planned events to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the War, contact the Georgia SCV at 404-456-3393 or online at www.GeorgiaSCV.org