Most people may think that almost all white people in Mississippi supported the Confederacy, especially since that state was the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. That is a false myth. Many Mississippians did not want to secede from the Union. One county in particular, Jones County, voted overwhelmingly against secession.
Many men from that county either voluntarily joined the Confederate army to avoid problems or were forced into it. Men from the upper classes became the officers, while poor whites became plain soldiers. Many plantation owners and their sons found ways to avoid being in the army, so the burden fell on the poor whites, whom the Confederacy rounded up when they started to draft men into the army while looking the other way when planters or other rich men sought not to fight.
The State of Jones is the story of some men who, in 1863, decided they had had enough with the corruption of the Confederacy and began to band together for mutual protection and to fight back and support the cause of the Union. The story of leader Newton Knight and his family is quite intriguing, and authors Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer employ it to show that the South was not totally united in the war effort to defeat the North, to expose the corruption and nasty side of those in positions of power in the Mississippi Confederacy, and to reveal how blacks and poor whites united against the Confederacy. This book is highly recommended to those interested in the Civil War.
Sally Jenkins is a journalist with the Washington Post and the author of The Real All Americans (2007) and co-authored with Lance Armstrong Itís Not About the Bike (2000).
John Stauffer is a professor at Harvard University and the author of The Black Hearts of Men (2002) and other books on the Civil War era, including Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln (2008).