Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Confederate "Heritage" Month 2016, April 5: Hollywood brings us Newt Knight

It wouldn't be right this year to let Confederate "Heritage" Month go by without a mention of the upcoming Free State of Jones movie about the legendary American patriot Newton Knight.

Newton Knight (1837-1922)

Here's Free State of Jones-Official Trailer STX Entertainment 010/09/2016:

Here's the blurb from the YouTube post:

Written and directed by four-time Oscar nominee Gary Ross (THE HUNGER GAMES, SEABISCUIT, PLEASANTVILLE), and starring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey. FREE STATE OF JONES is an epic action-drama set during the Civil War, and tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy.

Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones.

Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.

In Theaters June 24, 2016 ...

Connect with Free State of Jones Online:
WEBSITE: http://bit.ly/STX_FreeStateOfJones
FACEBOOK: http://bit.ly/STX_FreeStateFB
TWITTER: http://bit.ly/STX_FreeStateTW
INSTAGRAM: http://bit.ly/STX_FreeStateIG
No, I'm not getting paid by STX Entertainment. Although, hey guys, I am giving your movie free publicity!

There was a kind of hokey movie about Newt Knight from 1978, Tap Roots, provided here by the BeforeISleepFilms YouTube channel, Matthew McConaughey's Film "Free State of Jones," Was First Told In 1948 As "Tap Roots." 01/10/2016:

The blurb there says:

Complete 1948 Film "Tap Roots." With enhanced video and audio.

Based on true facts surrounding the U.S. Civil War. Newton Knight was a southern soldier who deserted and turned against the Confederate army during the war. Being the leader of Knight Company, he and his men are said to have tried to form a "Free State of Jones" in Jones County, Mississippi. After the war he became apart of building Mississippi's Reconstruction government.

A controversial figure for the time indeed, Knight was in a common law marriage to a former slave and had several children with her. He lived until 1922 at the age of 84 and upon his headstone his epitaph red, "He lived for others."
I posted about Newt Knight in my second annual Confederate "Heritage" Month counter-observance, Confederate "Heritage" Month - April 23: Newt Knight and The Free State of Jones 04/23/2005.

James R. Kelly Jr. has an article on Newton Knight and the Legend of the Free State of Jones Mississippi History Now April 2009. He describes the Free State of Jones pro-American rebellion against the Confederacy this way:

Newton Knight quickly organized a company of approximately 125 men from Jones, Jasper, Covington, and Smith counties to defend themselves against the Confederates. They were known as the Knight Company and Newt was elected captain. A tall, powerful man, Newt was known for his imposing presence and steel-blue eyes. He was an expert with his double-barreled, muzzle-loading shotgun, and he proved to be a very skilled and resourceful guerrilla war captain. To avoid capture, the Knight men would disappear into swamp hideouts such as “Devil’s Den” or “Panther Creek.” They communicated with each other by blowing signals into hollow cattle horns. The Knight Company was aided by sympathetic local people, whites and blacks. In particular, a slave woman named Rachel helped supply Newt with food and information.

By early 1864, news of Newt Knight’s exploits had reached the highest levels of the Confederate government. Confederate Captain Wirt Thomson reported to Secretary of War James Seddon that the United States flag had been raised over the courthouse in Ellisville. Captain William H. Hardy of Raleigh, who later founded Hattiesburg, Mississippi, pleaded with Governor Charles Clark to act against the hundreds of men who had “confederated” in Jones County. Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk informed President Jefferson Davis that Jones County was in “open rebellion” and the combatants were “… proclaiming themselves ‘Southern Yankees,’ and resolved to resist by force of arms all efforts to capture them.”

The Natchez Courier reported in its July 12, 1864, edition that Jones County had seceded from the Confederacy. A few days after his destructive Meridian campaign in February 1864, Union General Sherman wrote that he had received “a declaration of independence” from a group of local citizens who opposed the Confederacy. Much has been written about whether the “Free State of Jones” actually seceded or not. Although no official secession document survives, for a time in the spring of 1864, the Confederate government in Jones County was effectively overthrown.
That's just an awesome story!

No comments: