New York Times bestselling author Sally Jenkins and distinguished Harvard professor John Stauffer mine a nearly forgotten piece of Civil War history and strike gold in this surprising account of the only Southern county to secede from the Confederacy.
The State of Jones is a true story about the South during the Civil War—the real South. Not the South that has been mythologized in novels and movies, but an authentic, hardscrabble place where poor men were forced to fight a rich man’s war for slavery and cotton. In Jones County, Mississippi, a farmer named Newton Knight led his neighbors, white and black alike, in an insurrection against the Confederacy at the height of the Civil War. Knight’s life story mirrors the little-known story of class struggle in the South—and it shatters the image of the Confederacy as a unified front against the Union.
This riveting investigative account takes us inside the battle of Corinth, where thousands lost their lives over less than a quarter mile of land, and to the dreadful siege of Vicksburg, presenting a gritty picture of a war in which generals sacrificed thousands through their arrogance and ignorance. Off the battlefield, the Newton Knight story is rich in drama as well. He was a man with two loves: his wife, who was forced to flee her home simply to survive, and an ex-slave named Rachel, who, in effect, became his second wife. It was Rachel who cared for Knight during the war when he was hunted by the Confederates, and, later, when members of the Knight clan sought revenge for the disgrace he had brought upon the family name.
Working hand in hand with John Stauffer, distinguished chair and professor of the History of American Civilization at Harvard University, Sally Jenkins has made the leap from preeminent sportswriter to a historical writer endowed with the accuracy, drive, and passion of Doris Kearns Goodwin. The result is Civil War history at its finest.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of History eBook: The State of Jones|
|Release Date: 06-23-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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The State of Jones
May 1862, Corinth, Mississippi
As far as the foot soldiers were concerned, the other side could have the damned town. The generals might have gladly given it up too, if not for the railroad junction. Corinth was pestilential. Even the Union's pitiless William Tecumseh Sherman said the place made him feel "quite unwell." Sherman's superior, Henry Halleck, had such a low opinion of it that when he fell ill with a bowel ailment, he sourly named it "the evacuation of Corinth."
It was wretched ground for a fight, with boggy fields, swarms of bugs clouding the fetid air, and a chronic shortage of decent drinking water. A Confederate colonel called it a "sickly, malarial spot, fit only for alligators and snakes." It left no better impression on a Yankee lieutenant from Minnesota, who found the locals "ignorant" and the women "she vipers" with the figures of "shad bellied bean poles," he wrote. As far as he could tell, the chief local produce consisted of "wood ticks, chiggers, fleas, and niggers."
But men on both sides understood, if reluctantly, that Corinth was one of the most vital strategic points in the South. It was "the vertebrae of the Confederacy," as one rebel official put it. In the middle of town, two sets of railway tracks crossed each other in a broad X: the Memphis and Charleston ran -east--west, while the Mobile and Ohio ran -north--south. The intersection was a working hive: locomotives screeched and huffed, while men on platforms loaded and offloaded downy bales of cotton, stacks of lumber, crates, barrels, sacks of provisions like salt beef, and other vital war materiel. Trains ...