Duel of Honor! Colonel Henry Nixon and Major Thomas Hopkins

It was a manner of honor.  Colonel Henry G. Nixon (1800-1829) was a darling of the Camden community. Well-liked, polished, and generous, Col. Nixon was a local attorney and politician. With differences to settle, on January 15, 1829, he and Thomas A. Hopkins (1803-1831) met to dual at the Sand Bar Ferry near Augusta, Georgia where state jurisdiction was questionable . The genesis of the dispute started in 1824 when the Hopkins family sued the Nixon family.  William Nixon, Henry Nixon’s father, was accused of fraud in a land deal. The Hopkins family won the dispute in court. Both men were in the militia with Henry Nixon a Colonel and Thomas Hopkins was a Major. Folklore has it that the duel was because of a critical remark by Nixon regarding the maneuvers of Hopkins’ regiment. The duel was held at one o’clock. Col. Nixon is described as wearing a fancy coat with a white handkerchief showing from his breast pocket. Legend says that Hopkins remarked that “the man has marked his heart for me to hit.” Hopkins had practiced his marksmanship in the Quaker Cemetery in Camden firing at the grave stone of Neil Smith. You can still see the pit marks of bullets on the back of the stone. Hopkins, a superb marksman, marched his paces, turned and was the first to fire hitting Nixon in the right breast.  Nixon fell instantly dead with his pistol going off harmlessly.  Hopkins regretted the necessity of the duel and felt it has been forced on him by Nixon’s comments. It is said that Hopkins died from a broken heart for killing Nixon. Thomas Hopkins soon followed, dying just two years later. In 1832 Nixon’s father enclosed the grave of his son behind a wall of granite with iron railing. Henry G. Nixon is the only one buried in this plot at the Quaker Cemetery in Camden. Thomas Hopkins is buried at the old Swift Creek Church Cemetery. The history to be learned in the Quaker Cemetery is amazing, and it is just over two miles from Bloomsbury.