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1864: George Nelson, Indiana Jones rapist

September 12th, 2013 Meaghan

(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.)

On this day in 1864, Private George Nelson of Company F of the 13th United States Colored Troops was hanged for rape in Nashville, Tennessee.

He committed his crime on November 13, 1863. Nelson and two other men were on Nashville Pike outside of the town of Dickson when they encountered an unmarried white woman named, no lie, Indiana Jones.

They asked her where she lived and she said her house was about a mile away. The men claimed they’d been fighting with some rebels near her house and said she must go with them.

Miss Jones refused, and Nelson threatened to shoot her if she did not comply. She went with him for about 250 yards, begging him to release her. Private Nelson put a bayonet to her side and told her to come into the woods with him or he would run her through. Miss Jones started crying then, and he threatened to strangle her with a rope if she did not shut up. They went into the woods together while the other two men held the horse.

As Miss Jones later testified, “I again begged of him to let me go, when he cocked his gun and said if I did not be still he would blow my brains out. He then took hold of me, threw me down, and committed a rape on my person.”

When he was done he robbed her of $1.50, but the other soldiers made him give the money back. Then they let her go.

George Nelson’s accomplices were tried separately, and on cross-examination the victim was asked, “Did you use your utmost endeavors to prevent him from executing his desires, or did you simply cry out, thus yielding a tacit consent?”

As if she could have done anything else with a gun trained on her!

The three defendants were all court-martialed. President Lincoln approved the death sentence for Nelson in August 1864 and he hanged the following month. His partners-in-crime got twelve and ten years in prison respectively.

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Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Guest Writers,Hanged,History,Other Voices,Public Executions,Rape,Sex,Soldiers,Tennessee,U.S. Military,USA,Wartime Executions

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2 Responses to “1864: George Nelson, Indiana Jones rapist”

  1. 1
    visitor Says:

    George Nelson’s accomplices were tried separately, and on cross-examination the victim was asked, “Did you use your utmost endeavors to prevent him from executing his desires, or did you simply cry out, thus yielding a tacit consent?”

    Is this question asked to a storeowner having been robbed? Because in both cases they “could have done anything else with a gun trained on [them]“.

  2. 2
    Meaghan Says:

    Of course not; nobody blames you if you got mugged or if your business is robbed and you surrender your cash at the point of a gun.

    But rape victims are expected to fight their attacker, to the death if possible, and sustain terrible injuries. If they don’t, far too many people will decide the sex must have been consensual.

    I was raped by a stranger once. Years later, I saw a doctor, and I told him about the rape and said something like “He said he had a knife and he would kill me if I didn’t do what he told me to do. I was so afraid that I decided to do what he wanted.” And the doctor asked (and I quote), “So, then, he didn’t rape you?”

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