The State of Jones: The Small Southern County that Seceded from the Confederacy

The State of Jones: The Small Southern County that Seceded from the Confederacy

Sally Jenkins, John Stauffer

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 0767929462

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

No man better exemplified the complexities of Civil-War era Southern society than Newton Knight, whose incredible story is now the subject of a major motion picture starring Matthew McConaughey. In 1863, after surviving the devastating Battle of Corinth, Knight, a poor farmer from Mississippi, deserted the Confederate Army and began a guerrilla battle against the Confederacy. A pro-Union sympathizer in the deep South who refused to fight a rich man’s war for slavery and cotton, for two years he and other residents of Jones County engaged in an insurrection that would have repercussions far beyond the scope of the Civil War. In this dramatic account of an almost forgotten chapter of American history, Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer upend the traditional myth of the Confederacy as a heroic and unified Lost Cause, revealing the fractures within the South.

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them. It teaches me, further, to “remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them.” I endeavored to act up to that instruction. I say, I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have interfered as I have done—in behalf of his despised poor, was not wrong, but right. —John Brown, “Last Address to the Virginia Court,” 1859 CONTENTS Prologue: The South’s Strangest Soldier 1: Corinth 2: Home 3: The Swamp and the Citadel 4: The Hounds 5:

or trial. Parochial Republicans also supported Newton’s case by writing letters in his behalf and attesting to his loyalty. Among them was a feisty, colorful judge named William M. Hancock, who kept his courtroom in order with a pistol. Hancock handwrote a letter in Newton’s behalf to Perce, assuring him that the case was worth supporting. “He is an honest and clever man and is a staunch Republican and during the Rebellion was a union man and the recognized leader of the union party in this

home. The final straw perhaps came when she realized that Newton had no intention of severing his relationship with Rachel’s family and was instead closer than ever with them—especially with Georgeanne, with whom he all but set up house. According to Martha Wheeler, after Rachel died, Georgeanne took Rachel’s place “and separated him from his wife.” Newton’s relationship with Georgeanne was that of an aging, solitary man who needed someone to care for him and his children, and perhaps more. For

Rorer, and William Nugent were among them. So too, unwillingly, were the foot-dragging men from Jones County, impressed back into uniform in the 7th Mississippi Battalion. The state was all but emptied of rebel forces. Leonidas Polk led his army into Georgia, first by rail and then the last seventy miles on foot, at the head of a divisional train that stretched for five miles. His headquarters alone required ten six-horse wagons to haul it. The departure left Mississippi largely undefended and

free whether they liked it or not and entitled to certain protections. But that by no means meant the Negro deserved citizenship or equality. The “purity and progress” of Mississippi society depended on keeping blacks where they belonged according to the “law of God,” Humphreys said: on the plantation where white bosses could guard against “the evils that may arise from their sudden emancipation.” One Delta planter put it less delicately. “I think God intended the niggers to be slaves. Now since

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