Friday, July 17, 2015
The Persnickety State of Jones
In response to what they considered inept and indifferent leadership among the Confederate officers at the Battle of Vicksburg and afterwards, a group of men from Jones County led by Newton Knight left the Confederate Army and subsequently seceded from the Confederacy. They renamed their county the State of Jones and refused to further participate in a war they did not support and into which they had been involuntarily drafted.
When I came across this bit of information, I was intrigued. There are those who feel the Civil War was an act of treason by the South. There are those in the South who believe the war was about States’ Rights, not slavery. I will not bore you with my opinion; however, I wonder what I would’ve done had I been alive then.
My maternal grandfather’s family was from Mississippi, moving to Louisiana only after losing most of their fortune during the Depression as they had prosperous cotton farmers. According to family lore theirs had been among the wealthiest families in the state. If true, this would have had a major impact on my opinions and stances about the war.
As in many wars before, wealthier men could pay someone to serve for them, unless they were trying to establish credentials for political reasons. Those who agreed to serve were automatically given officer rank and were therefore not in the most immediate danger as they were not necessarily among those on the front line. There were officers who fought bravely beside their men, but it wasn’t necessarily a requirement.
I have never been a coward, but I do find it difficult to feign energetic support for a fight I didn’t start or truly believe in. I don’t know what my feelings about the war would have been if I were living in Mississippi in 1864; however, knowing me, I imagine they would have been very different from those of my family and neighbors. “Just your average Joe” has never been a descriptor for your humble narrator. However, if family money were involved, I may have kept my opinions to myself. One of the few advantages of a lack of any facsimile of an inheritance is the absence of anxiety attached to being disinherited due to disagreements over matters political, spiritual, food/animal-related or otherwise.
I have made my life’s stance to only fight when I feel passionately about something and/or I feel I have a chance of winning. This has caused me to engage in fisticuffs only on three occasions in my 44 years on Earth; once in junior high, once in high school and once in 1996, the year of my delayed rebellion. Well fisticuffs aren’t the best descriptor. What do you call pushing and/or throwing someone really, really hard? Throwing something out a window is called defenestration, but there were no windows so I am unsure of the proper verbiage.
I assure you I did not pick these fights. I don't want to fight...I want to sing! Not really, but my bark is much worse than my bite. Like most people I see at The Wal-Mart, my bite has few, if any, teeth. And to be honest, I don’t have much of a bark these days, unless you drive too slow or treat service people poorly in my presence.
I have learned how to feign enthusiasm for something about which I am not jazzed, but it is difficult. And for this reason alone, I feel as if I might have joined those frisky Jones Countians in their stance. This attitude of independence still lingers amongst the denizens of the geographic area just north of Hattiesburg.
Case in point, when the junior colleges in Mississippi decided to change their names to community colleges in 1988, Jones County refused. They were known as JCJC (Jones County Junior College) and did not want to alter the flow of their acronym. And to this day they remain JCJC. I guess the spirit of old Newt still lingers in the Piney Woods.
And that’s all I’m saying for now.