The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War [Book Review]

The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War [Book Review]

H-Net Reviews

Ethan S. Rafuse, Associate Professor of Military History
United States Military Academy

Victoria E. Bynum.“The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War”.  The Fred W. Morrison Series in Southern Studies.  Chapel Hill & London: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001.  xvi + 316 pp. Tables, maps, notes, bibliography, and index. (hardcover).  ISBN 0-878-2636-7.

Race, Gender, and the Contested Memory of the Free State of Jones

In her new book, Victoria E. Bynum demonstrates that our knowledge of Mississippi’s legendary Free State of Jones, like so much else associated with the Civil War that has inspired contention and controversy, has been shaped as much by the agenda of those who have attempted to tell the story as by actual events.  This much is known: in the fall of 1863, in the Piney Woods region of southern Mississippi, Confederate deserters led by Newton Knight organized an anti-Confederate guerrilla band that eventually dominated its community and, according to legend, proclaimed Jones County’s independence from the Confederacy.  To deal with the Jones County rebellion, Confederate authorities dispatched two cavalry expeditions into the region that launched devastating attacks upon, but were unable to completely quell, Knight’s band of deserters.  After the war, members of the Knight Company participated in Reconstruction politics and a mixed-race community emerged with Captain Knight as the focal point…

Read the entire review here.

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