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Archive for the ‘Mississippi’ Category

For thirty years, guerrilla leader Newt Knight of Jasper County, Mississippi, sought compensation as a Unionist from the U.S. government on behalf of himself and 54 men who had belonged to his Civil War “Knight Company.”* These men included deserters and a few draft evaders who banded together in the swamps of the Leaf River in neighboring Jones County to fight against the Confederacy.

In my recent book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War, I analyze in depth Newt’s unsuccessful efforts to gain compensation from the federal government. Aiding my analysis were numerous depositions, including those provided by Newt Knight, H.L. Sumrall, Jefferson Musgrove, J.M. Valentine, E.M. Devall, William M. Welch, J.E. Welborn, J.J. Collins, B.F. Moss, A.B. Jordan, O.C. Martin, E.M. Edmonson, T.J. Huff, T.G. Crawford, and R.M. Blackwell.** Among these men were members, friends, and enemies of the Knight band. Some former members of the band testified on behalf of Newt, the claimant; others testified for the U.S. government, the defendant. In several instances, the defense called on witnesses friendly to Newt Knight in hopes that the testimonies of wartime allies would contradict one another.

R.M. (Montgomery) Blackwell, a 48-year-old farmer, was one such Knight band member called to testify on behalf of the U.S. government. On March 7, 1895, at 5:30 p.m., Montgomery was deposed at the Ellisville, Mississippi, courthouse by Jesse M. Bush, clerk of the circuit court. After establishing Blackwell’s identity, defense attorney John C. Dougherty asked him whether he had “belonged to any body of men during the war,” and to “state what it was, at what time and what place you joined and what purpose you had in connecting yourself with the same.”

With no apparent hesitation, Montgomery Blackwell replied that he had “belonged to Captain Knight’s company; joined in Jones county near Reddoch’s Ferry; I believe it was in Sept. 1863. Knight had a squad of Union men, and I had enough of kin in the Confederate ranks, and I concluded to go with the Knights.”

Two things stand out in Blackwell’s answer. First, he contradicted Newt Knight’s testimony that the Knight Company was formed on October 13, 1863. Second, he did not identify his family as solidly Unionist, but rather indicated a fair amount of support for the Confederacy within its ranks. This is not surprising since many families in the Jones County area, including the Knights, were split over the war. The most solidly Unionist family, as I have pointed out on this blog as well as in Long Shadow and Free State of Jones, were the Collinses.  They and their kinfolk comprised the majority of band members. Joining ranks with the Knight Company, however, forged a new kinship link between the Knight and Blackwell families when, in 1869, Montgomery Blackwell married Newt’s cousin, Zorada Keziah Knight.

Blackwell’s tentative answer in regard to when the Knight Company was formed was a minor discrepancy given that thirty years had passed since the war’s end. Perhaps for this reason, defense attorney Dougherty immediately shifted to a more important area of contradiction by asking Blackwell to explain whether or not he “took any oath” at the time the band was formed, and if so, to “state what oath, before whom, and when and at what place” it was taken.

This talk of an “oath” harkened back to an affidavit certified in 1870 by justice of the peace T. J. Collins which stated that the Knight Company had not only organized itself on October 13, 1863, but had elected officers and taken a “sollomn [sic] vow to be true to each other and to the United States and to fight on behalf of the United States during the war.” This document, signed by four Jones County men, made no claim that any Union official had administered an oath of allegiance, only that the men had spoken one among themselves.

With the passage of time, however, the facts surrounding this elusive oath became hopelessly confused. In their 1895 depositions, several members of the band testified that T.J. Collins had delivered the oath in 1863, when in fact he had certified a statement from several witnesses in 1870 that the Knight Company had taken such an oath–likely without the benefit of any public official.

Others, Montgomery Blackwell among them, testified in 1895 that “old man V.A. Collins” had likely administered the oath.  But if anyone presided over this moment, it probably was Benagah Mathews, as suggested by Jasper Collins in his testimony. The elderly Mathews, who had close ties with the band, was a probate judge by 1869. It was he who took responsibility for filing Newt Knight’s initial claim file in 1870, acting in lieu of a lawyer for the Knight Company.

The problem in 1895 was that Newt Knight’s new lawyers were not familiar with the internal workings of the Knight Company, as Benagah Mathews had been, and, in their efforts to embellish its Unionist credentials, they created a trap for themselves. The notion that a Unionist official had administered an oath of allegiance to the Knight Company during the midst of the Civil War was easily shot down by the government’s defense team.  By distorting the evidence in this and other instances, Newt’s lawyers put witnesses such as Montgomery Blackwell in predicaments where they were asked to remember “facts” that had been altered by Newt’s lawyers in an effort to strengthen the evidence.

At the same time, the government misplaced Newt Knight’s truly factual evidence, offered in his first petition of 1870, that the reconstructed government of 1865 had recognized him as a staunch Unionist. None of that evidence was presented in his second and third petitions (see Long Shadow of the Civil War, pp. 77-96). Not surprisingly, the Knight Company lost its bid for compensation as an ad hoc military unit that had fought on behalf of the Union Army during the Civil War.

Vikki Bynum

* NOTE: Although lawyers for Newt Knight identified the Knight Company as the “Jones County Scouts” between 1887 and 1895, I have found no evidence that the band ever referred to itself by this name. It’s my opinion that Newt’s lawyers manufactured the new name to give it more of an official military ring.

**Newt Knight’s 1887-1900 claim file is located in Records of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1835-1966, Record Group 123, Committee on War Claims, Claims of Newton Knight and Others, #8013 and 8464, National Archives, Wash. D.C.

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Note: A few weeks ago, Renegade South published a story of murder and mayhem among the Lyon and Landrum families of Jones County. Accusations of murder notwithstanding, the southeastern Mississippi Lyon family is better known for the progressive political views and accomplishments of several of its descendants. Dr. Elijah W. Lyon, we have seen, was likely “Dr. Lyon,” the populist listed from Jasper County in 1894.  And, as I note in Long Shadow of the Civil War, in 1920, Elijah’s first cousin once removed, Thomas J. Lyon, was the Socialist candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Mississippi’s Sixth District. This same Thomas J. Lyon married Theodocia Collins, daughter of Unionist/Populist Jasper Collins.

Summarized below, with permission from Keith and Donnis Lyon, is a brief biography of yet another illustrious member of the Lyon family: Elijah W. Lyon, grandson and namesake of the populist, Dr. Elijah W. Lyon. This younger E. W. Lyon was a historian and president of Pomona College from 1941 until 1969 .

Elijah W. Lyon was born in 1904 in Heidelberg, Mississippi. As a young man, his goal was to become a journalist. Soon, however, he discovered the study of history, and accordingly changed his plans. An outstanding student at the University of Mississippi, he was elected senior class president and appointed editor of the college newspaper.  Soon after, he won a Rhodes Scholarship to St. John’s College at Oxford.

After returning to the United States, Elijah became assistant professor of history at Louisiana Polytechnic Institute. He then moved on to Colgate University, where he was named head of the history department in 1934.

In 1941, Lyon was appointed president of Pomona College (one of the five colleges of the Claremont College complex in southern California). Until 1969, he helped shape its reputation as a leading liberal arts institution.

According to journalist Roxane Arnold in a 1989 article, “almost as soon as he arrived at Pomona, he found himself in turbulent times, first because of the outset of World War II and then into the McCarthy era. Throughout it all, he is said to have stood tall in defending academic freedom.”

“After retiring, Lyon returned once again to history, writing more history books and speaking at major colleges throughout the country. To honor him, a professorship was established in his name in 1969; and then in 1989, ground-breaking was held on campus for the college’s newest dormitory–the E. Wilson Lyon Court.”

Elijah W. Lyon was more than a skilled administrator, however; he was a “scholar’s scholar” who made it a point to recruit a strong faculty that set “the tone for what is taught in classrooms there today.” According to David Alexander, Pomona’s president in 1989, Lyon  “felt his paramount duty was the appointment of a strong faculty.  For 28 years, Wilson Lyon applied his view of liberal education to the development of Pomona College and what the college is today is the product of those dreams.”

President E. Wilson Lyon, 1966
Charles P. Cross
Oil on canvas, 431/2 x 511/2”
Gift of Gladys K. Montgomery

The 28-year presidency of Elijah Wilson Lyon (1941-1969) was the longest in Pomona’s history. The College we know today owes much to his leadership, and his History of Pomona College (1977) remains the most reliable source of information about the College. Lyon’s portrait was commissioned on the occasion of his 25th year as president.

Books by Elijah Wilson Lyon:

The history of Pomona College, 1887-1969 (1977)

Man Who Sold Louisiana: The Career of Francois Barbe-Marbois (1975)

Louisiana in French Diplomacy, 1759-1804 (1974)

The History of Louisiana, Particularly of the Cession of That Colony to the United States of America co-authored with Francois Barbe-Marbois (1976)

Vikki Bynum, Moderator

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Every family has its less-than-savory branches, and the Lyons (also spelled Lynes and Lines in the nineteenth century) of southeastern Mississippi were no exception. The Lyon family produced noteworthy political reformers in the 19th and 20th centuries, but in 1857, a father and son of that name (spelled Lynes in the published court transcripts) were convicted of murder.

It’s interesting to note the persistence of traditional customs of patriarchal kinship in the following story of that murder.  I’m certain, for example, that the fact that Charles Landrum was married to Thomas Lynes’s daughter helped to fuel the rage that led to his murder. Landrum had testified against his father-in-law in a larceny case, an act that marked him as disloyal to family. Lynes also administered harsh punishment to the daughter who apparently stood by her husband over her father, while he treated another daughter as property to be bargained away when it served his interests. It’s also worth noting that Thomas’s son, Morgan, was only about 16 years old when he participated in the murder of Landrum. Clearly, Thomas Lynes relished the habit of command.

Vikki Bynum, moderator


The Lyons and the Landrums: A Tale of Kinship and Murder

“A more deliberate, cruel, cowardly assassination was never conceived or executed.” (1)

That’s how state attorney general T. J. Wharton described the murder of Charles Landrum of Jones County, Mississippi (2). Less than two weeks before Christmas, 1857, twenty-six-year-old Landrum was shot to death at his own home while playing an ordinary board game with his neighbor, Morgan Lynes (Lyons) (3). Charley had just got up from the game and walked over to the hearth of his one-room cabin to staunch a nosebleed when a bullet blasted through an unsealed crack near the cabin’s chimney. He died instantly.

Morgan, who had made a prescient move toward the door just before the shot rang out, turned to Charley’s horrified wife and exclaimed, “You cannot accuse us of it; we have been too good to you.” In addition to Morgan, “us” included Lemuel Lyons, perhaps a brother, James Hightower, and Morgan’s father, sixty-two-year-old Thomas Lyons. (Old Tom Lyons was the father-in-law of Charley Landrum, which would make “Mrs. Landrum” the sister of Morgan Lyons) (4).  A witness who hurried to the Landrum cabin after hearing gunfire testified that all four men were close to the scene. She first encountered Lemuel, then Morgan. Nearby, she heard the voices of Thomas Lyons and James Hightower, although she saw neither man (5).

Poor Charley had surely known his life was in danger. Just days before the killing, his dogs died; one in a fit consistent with strychnine poisoning. Around the same time, his wife woke in the night to some sort of liquid being hurled on her; something so caustic it blistered her arms and hands by morning. But who was out to get the Landrums? And why?

Upon investigation, a motive for the intimidation and murder of Charley Landrum emerged, and it pointed directly at Charley’s father-in-law, Tom Lynes. Turns out that two months before the murder, in September, Tom, his son Morgan, and another likely son, Lemuel, had been indicted on charges of larceny. The principle witness against them was none other than Charley Landrum. After their arrest, both Tom and Morgan retaliated, accusing Charley of swearing a lie before the grand jury and launching threats against him. The killing of Charley’s dogs and abuse of his wife followed soon after.

Meanwhile, according to testimony, Tom Lynes soon deeded all his property to his daughter, Elizabeth. He then offered James Hightower a deal he couldn’t resist: Tom would “give” Elizabeth to him, with all her new wealth, in exchange for Hightower pulling the trigger on Charley Landrum. At least that’s what Hightower claimed. Tom Lynes, backed by his son Morgan, affirmed that Hightower had indeed murdered Landrum—he claimed he even watched him load his gun at the Lynes home—but Tom denied that he had hired Hightower to do the dirty work by promising him his newly-propertied daughter. (No one seemed to care what Elizabeth thought of this arrangement).

At their joint trial in October 1858, Thomas and Morgan Lynes were found guilty and sentenced to be hung. Under a writ of error won by the Lynes’s lawyer, however, the supreme court of Mississippi ruled that Hightower’s testimony regarding Tom and Morgan had been improperly admitted. In delivering the opinion of the court, Judge J. Harris wrote, “the confession of Hightower, so far as it was introduced to establish the fact that he was the perpetrator of the crime, was competent; but so far as it tended to implicate others, was incompetent, and should have been excluded from the jury.” The case was accordingly remanded, and a new jury impaneled to decide on the guilt of the Lyons, but without hearing the testimony provided by Hightower.

The new jury apparently convicted the Lynes anyway, but did not sentence them to die. The federal manuscript census of 1860 lists Thomas “Lines”, age 65, and his son, Morgan, age 18, as living in a household headed by A. M. Dozier, a doctor. Under the column reserved for idiots, paupers, convicts, etc., the census enumerator wrote “murder” beside both the father and son’s names (6).

It’s interesting that, while labeled as murderers, the Lynes were neither incarcerated in 1860 nor living among family. Perhaps they were found innocent by the second jury after all, and it was the census enumerator who decided to “convict” them for posterity. Maybe there’s a reader out there who can supply missing details.

Vikki Bynum

ENDNOTES

  1. Thomas M. and Thomas Lynes v. The State, Cases Argued & Decided in the Supreme Court of Mississippi, Vol. 36, pp. 617-626. This case may be read online at http://books.google.com/books?id=5z84AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA1213&lpg=PA1213&dq=lynes+murder+hightower&source=bl&ots=g3xguESukQ&sig=cJAg1evhaQSR1-4HP39WYuBV5bI&hl=en&ei=wjcnTLiOL5WNnQe8mcW8Bg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBoQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=lynes%20murder%20hightower&f=falseAccording to family genealogies, Thomas Lynes (Lyon) was the son of Thomas Lyon, b. 1780, originally from the Abbeville District of S.C., and Lucy Donald. He and his wife, Mary Watters (Walters) were the parents of Elizabeth, Samuel, Obediah, Morgan, Joanna, Naomi, and Bruce Simpson.
  2. The 1850 federal manuscript census for Jones County lists 19-year-old Charles Landrum in the household of Jesse and Jemima Landrum, ages 49 and 44.
  3. Morgan’s full name was Thomas Morgan Lynes (Lyons).
  4. Mrs. Landrum’s first name was not provided. It is possible that Thomas Lynes son, Samuel, is Lemuel. Supreme Court transcripts occasionally miss-reported or misspelled names.
  5. This witness is reported later in the transcript as Susan B. Landrum.
  6. The household of A.M. Dozier, age 27, included Mary R. and  Richard Dozier, ages 17 and 10. Dozier appears to have run a boarding house of sorts, as its members also included two school teachers and another doctor in addition to the Lynes men.

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Here’s a wonderful document sent to me by independent researcher Ralph Poore. It’s a reminder of the vibrant third-party political movements that emerged for a time in post-Civil War Mississippi. I’m especially intrigued by the names “R. A. Welborn,” “Dr. Lyon,” and “C. J.” and “D.A. Lightsey,” as those surnames are all connected in some way with Jones County Unionists and/or Populists. Perhaps readers can help identify possible kinships across county lines.

Vikki Bynum, Moderator


Jasper County Review

October 3, 1894 2:4

Resolutions of Populite [Populist] mass meeting.

Mass meeting of People’s Party of Jasper County held at courthouse in Paulding on September 20, 1894.

J. C. Rodgers chairman of the executive committee elected chairman of the meeting.

John White, secretary.

R. M. Read, Sr.

Committee of Ten: R. M. Read, Jr., A. W. Atwood, A. G. B. Graham, J. J. McNeill, John Simms, F.C. Thornton, R. A. Welborn, Dr. Lyon, W. E. Cook, C. J. Lightsey, D. A. Lightsey.

“Resolved, That we, the People’s party in mass meeting assembled, recognize the fact that the Democratic party has signally failed to carry out its promises. Therefore, be it

“Resolved, That we condemn the action of the present administration as subversive of the rights and interests of the people.

“2nd. That we condemn the action of Grover Cleveland in regard to the silver bill. We favor the government issuing greenbacks and paying the public debt and doing away with national banks, that general bankrupts may be averted.

“3rd. That we have been and still are in favor of Jeffersonian Democracy, and that our faith has never been shaken nor our courage diminished.

“4th. We recognize the People’s party as the only hope for relief, and that we ask all true reformers to go with us in this, the hour of our country’s peril.

“5th. That we are in the fight to stay until the battle for reform has been gained and the people emancipated from the rule of mammon.

“6th. That we are bound by no machine nor governed by no party lash, but believe more in moral honesty and competency in the discharge of official duties than the political epithets with which false men would beguile the people.

“7th. When a party becomes corrupt it is time to abandon it and build upon the ruins thereof truth and honor.

“8th. Believing in the righteousness of our cause and in the integrity of the American people, we invoke the aid of the God of justice on the success of our cause.

“9th. Resolved, That we reindorse the Omaha platform and the action of the Forest convention.

“Resolved, That we ask the Vindicator and all other reform papers to publish the above report, and on motion the Jasper County Review was requested to publish the proceedings of the meeting.”

JASPER COUNTY PEOPLES’ PARTY

Name Party Position Business Location Birth year
Rodgers, J. C. Chairman of the executive committee Juror
White, John secretary Election manager Twist Wood
Read, R. M., Sr. Confederate veteran
Read, R. M., Jr. Committee of Ten Election manager Missionary
Atwood, A. W. Committee of Ten farmer President, Jasper County Farmers’ Alliance 1852
Graham, A. G. B. Committee of Ten farmer Election manager Cross Roads
McNeill, J. J. Committee of Ten
Simms, John Committee of Ten
Thornton, F.C. Committee of Ten Leonia
Welborn, R. A. Committee of Ten farmer P. K. 1867
Lyon, Dr. Committee of Ten
Cook, W. E. Committee of Ten farmer Election manager Claiborne 1861
Lightsey, C. J. Committee of Ten farmer Election manager Paulding 1841
Lightsey, D. A. Committee of Ten 1894, candidate for Coroner and Ranger Paulding
Heidelberg, W. W. State senator
JASPER COUNTY FARMERS’ ALLIANCE
Name Position Business Location
Atwood, Augustus W. President Farmer TWP 3, Range 13 East
Long, W. P. Secretary
November 6, 1894 5th Congressional District election in Jasper County

Jasper County Review, Nov. 7, 1894 2:3

Precinct Williams (Democrat) Ratliff (Populist)
Paulding 20 6
Missionary 24 7
Antioch 22 7
Palestine 15 10
Twistwood 42 8
Hopewell 14 4
Fellowship 29
Garlandsville 18 1
Randal Hill 6
Montrose 34 2
Mt. Zion 39 10
P. K. 20 16
Cross Roads 27 23
Claiborne 23 17
Heidelberg 47 2
Vossburg 18 1
Rawl’s Mill 17 1
Total 415 115

Ratliff received 120 votes in 1892.

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By Vikki Bynum, moderator

A few days ago, the Clarion Ledger (Jackson, MS) published a joint review of two books: Steve Yates’s novel, “Morkan’s Quarry,” and my study, The Long Shadow of the Civil War. As reviewer  Joe L. White notes, “both books dispel the myth of the ‘Solid South.” Yates, he writes, provides a rich story of how “war can expose avarice, cruelty, viciousness, . . . and the opposites of compassion, kindness and humanity.” As a historical work, The Long Shadow shows “how Mississippi families played a major part in maintaining resistance to what many considered an unfair ‘rich man’s war’,” suggesting that the Civil War’s effects are not only “long-lasting, but perhaps never-ending.”

White ends his review by counseling readers to “take a gamble. Either book is a sure bet.” As the author of one of those books, I hope you’ll take his advice!

To read Joe White’s entire review click here:  http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20100530/FEAT05/5300307/1023/FEAT03/Review-New-Civil-War-books-compelling

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Chalmette National Cemetery

I received these photos from Deena Collins Aucoin this Memorial Day morning. The first is of Chalmette National Cemetery in New Orleans. The second is the grave of Riley J. Collins from Jones County, MS. An avowed Unionist, Riley resisted service in the Confederate Army, and joined Co. E, 1st New Orleans infantry (although his gravestone says LA Infantry) on April 30, 1864. He died of disease the following August.

Deena is a descendant of Simeon Collins, brother of Riley. Both men, along with brother Jasper Collins and many nephews and cousins, were members of the Knight Band in the Free State of Jones. Three other Collins brothers–Warren, Stacy and Newton–deserted the Confederate Army and fought against it in the Big Thicket of East Texas.

Vikki Bynum, moderator

Riley J. Collins Grave, Chalmette National Cemetery

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Note from moderator: Some time ago, before my move to Missouri temporarily engulfed my life, I had an interesting set of exchanges with Shelby Harriel, who had posted a comment beneath Ed Payne’s post, “Jasper Collins and the Ellisville Patriot.” After conducting extensive research on her family,  Shelby was astonished to discover that several of her Mississippi ancestors had fought for the Union during the Civil War. “Being a Southerner to my very soul, it’s been difficult to understand and accept,” she wrote. Determined, however, to understand rather than dismiss (or hide) her kinfolk, she quickly realized that the Civil War South was anything but unified over secession from the Union.  In email messages to Ed and me, she further digressed on her fascinating journey into the past. With her permission, I am publishing her letter describing what she learned about the Civil War service of her Smith, Harriel, and Bounds ancestors.

Vikki Bynum


First of all, this all started when my paw paw’s first cousin, Mr. Hollis Smith, began sharing with me the history of our families.  He was born in 1915 and actually remembered talking to his Civil War relatives.  When asked why they fought for the Union, he looked at me as if I were crazy and replied, “They didn’t believe the Union should be dissolved!”  He provided me with a copy of the picture I have attached.  Sadly, Mr. Hollis passed away in September at the age of 95.

From left to right:  Telfair (Mr. Hollis’ grandfather), Thomas R., Nimrod “Peter” (standing), John Lampkin, and Sherrod Smith.

I have the service and pension records for all of these men.  I have service records for a Sherrod Smith of the 17th Battalion Cavalry but am not sure if the soldier was the man in the picture or their first cousin, also named Sherrod.

Thomas rose to the rank of sergeant in Co. G, 1st New Orleans Infantry (Union). He was 5’8″ with light colored hair and green eyes and was 21 when he enlisted.  I have found a T.R. Smith of Co. B, 7th Battalion MS Infantry from Jackson County which is next to Harrison County where the Smiths were from at the time, so I have assumed this is “my” Thomas R. Smith.  His enlistment is given as April, 1862 but his record states “absent without leave having never reported.  Nor correctly reported….should be marked deserted.”

John Lampkin was 22 when he enlisted in the same regiment, Co. H. He was 5’11″ with black hair and blue eyes. He died in a hospital in Carrollton  of small pox in January, 1865. There is a rumor that he wasn’t actually the soldier that died of small pox in the hospital but switched identities with another soldier and went on to be a professional gambler in New Orleans when he was shot in the back and killed over a game of cards. For some reason, I don’t feel that is true.   There appears a John L. Smith of Co. B, 7th Battalion MS Infantry with the same information as Thomas’.

Pete is a mystery. When I sent off for his papers, I received records for an “N.J. Smith” of Co. B, 3rd Mississippi Infantry. Those were his initials, and that was a unit raised in this area, but this particular soldier was listed as having been “severely wounded” on July 20, 1864 at Peach Tree Creek and died on July 24, 1864, in a Macon hospital. But Pete survived into his 80′s. Mr. Hollis swore up and down that Pete never served, but yet he applied for a pension in 1924 where he claimed to have enlisted in the 3rd MS Infantry in 1863 (he would have been 16 even though he definitely doesn’t look that young in the picture!). The officers listed on the application are correct, and the pension was granted. Two Confederate headstones were applied for, one for the 4th MS Cavalry. According to the application, he enlisted in 1861 with no discharge date. And then there’s another application for a headstone where the regiment is the 3rd MS. According to this document, he enlisted in October, 1863, and was discharged April 26, 1865. I sent away and received papers for a “Peter Smith” of the 4th MS Cav. But I don’t think this is the same person because this unit was formed in another part of the state. However, it was at Camp Moore, Louisiana, which is about an hour and a half away from here. I suppose he could have served in both. So that leaves the question of the soldier “N.J. Smith” who was killed outside Atlanta. Even though Mr. Hollis said he didn’t fight, he was granted a pension in 1924. At any rate, I’ve concluded that Pete did fight due to the fact that the pension was granted, and his two older brothers fought against him for the Union, one of whom, Thomas of course, signed as a witness on his pension application!

The Smiths had two first cousins, Reuben and Rufus, who served in the 3rd MS Infantry.   Both appear as AWOL at certain times, but they also show up as having been sick.  So it doesn’t appear that they deserted and joined the 1st NO like their cousins.  It seems that Unionist loyalties are connected through family ties.  However, this doesn’t seem to be the case with this branch of my family.

While doing this research, I took a look at the rosters of the Union unit Thomas and John Lampkin joined out of New Orleans. Lo and behold, there appeared the name of one Reutilus Hariel, Jr. in Co. G (The army misspelled my paw paw’s name by putting an extra “r” in it when he went to fight in WWII. He liked it and kept it.). His name was spelled every way imaginable, but that was him, the man of whom I am directly descended. He went with the Smith brothers to New Orleans and joined with them.  Unlike the Smiths, I could not find him in a Confederate unit prior to his enlistment in the 1st NO.  At any rate, after being told my entire life that we had no direct ancestors who fought, I found out three years ago that wasn’t true. After telling Mr. Hollis of my discovery, he just laughed because I think he knew all along but didn’t want to tell me that my direct ancestor fought for the Union. As for my direct family, I think it was known at some point but was covered up over the years until it became forgotten. Reutilus, after all, died in his 40′s.  His father, Reutilus Sr. is another family mystery.  We don’t know where he came from or what happened to him.  He rode off to work on the telegraph lines one day and never came home.  Neither he nor his horse were ever discovered.  We believe he was robbed and murdered because he is rumored to have always ridden the finest horses and wore the finest clothes.

There was another man named William Bounds whose sister married Reutilus Jr. While looking for his Confederate records, I kept coming up empty. Later, I found his name with those of the Smith brothers and Reutilus. Now it made sense why his headstone wasn’t pointed. He wasn’t a Confederate. He was in Co. I of the 1st NO and was listed as a deserter as of Jan. 13, 1866.  He was cleared of the charge in 1886.

Thomas, Reutilus, and William are all buried together in a cemetery about five miles from where I live. It’s kind of funny because they’re buried in the middle of the little cemetery while everybody else is buried along the fence row and away from them. I wonder if that’s on purpose. At any rate, according to Mr. Hollis, the Smith’s mother made it known she did not want to be buried near her Yankee son, and she’s not. She’s buried in another cemetery a couple of miles away, along with Pete, her Confederate son.  I don’t know where, exactly, in New Orleans John Lampkin is buried.

After doing more research on William Bounds, I have found out that he is the son of John E. Bounds and Nancy Sumrall.  Rumor has it that John was harboring Confederate deserters and run out of the county because of it.

I have discovered that William had two brothers who joined the 1st NO with him:  James and Addison, both of whom were 6’3″! James had red hair and black eyes. I hope I can find a picture of him one day. Addison had light colored hair and blue eyes. William was just under six feet with red hair and green eyes.

Addison made corporal.  As a part of the provost, he was detailed to escort prisoners to Fort Jefferson in the Tortugas, beginning in February, 1866. I read where most prisoners there were Union deserters. Talk about irony…..my Southern-born ancestor fighting with a Union unit based in New Orleans and guarding Yankee deserters.   Addison himself appears to be a Confederate deserter as I found an “A. Bounds” of Co. B, 17th Battalion Cavalry from Harrison County.  He was enrolled in April, 1862 and listed as present.  However, that’s where the records for that particular unit end for him.

In addition to housing Yankee deserters, Fort Jefferson was also the prison where Dr. Samuel Mudd was sent. He was there the same time as Addison.

I could not find a Confederate unit for James unless I overlooked something.

These Bounds had first cousins, Richard and John Clark Bounds of Jasper County, who were in Co. K, 37th MS Infantry.   They were the sons of Addison Bounds, brother of John E.  Richard was wounded in 1862 and sent to a hospital in Holly Springs.  He was paroled after Vicksburg and then was listed as AWOL February 9th, 1864.   I don’t have his 1st NO records yet, but they’re on the way.  John was on detached service and missed out on the whole Vicksburg experience.  His records show he was paroled at Meridian in May, 1865.   So why did he choose to remain loyal to the Confederacy instead of deserting and joining the 1st NO like his brother?  I wonder if he knew that Richard had deserted and joined the Union.

I have in my notes a Joseph A. Bounds listed as a brother of Richard and John Clark.  There is a Joseph A. in Co. F, 19th MS who served in Virginia throughout the war, but I don’t think these are the same men.

There were other relatives to the Bounds listed above:

There is a Stephen, Solomon and George Washington Bounds who all served in Co. H, 3rd MS Infantry.  George Washington was discharged due to disability.  Nathaniel Bounds of the 38th MS Cavalry died at a hospital in Okolona in June, 1862.  I could not find any of them in the NO unit.  I have also found a W. S. Bounds whose name is given as Woodward on one of the cards.  He was also in Co. H, 3rd MS and detailed as a teamster in 1863.  His records don’t indicate what happened to him after that year.  There is a D.W. Bounds in the same company.  He is listed as AWOL since November, 1863.   I don’t know who the D.S. is but I have found a Daniel Woodward in my genealogy notes.  There is a D.W. Bounds of the 2nd NO, a unit that failed to organize resulting in soldiers being transferred to the 1st.  And there is a Daniel W. Bound listed in Co. H of the 1st.  Furthermore, there is an Ellis Bounds in Co. G.  I could not find a Confederate unit for him although his father filed for a pension where he listed the 3rd MS as his son’s unit.  In my notes, I have Ellis’ death date as 1864.   There are also John and Henry of Co. G of the 1st NO.  In my notes, I have a John Riley and James Henry listed as brothers of Ellis and that they were twins.  No Confederate unit could be found for them either even though their father, Gillium, (2nd cousin of John E.) was in Co. H, 3rd Battalion MS State Troops.  He is listed as present in August, 1862 but deserted a few months later in January, 1863.  All of these Bounds were from the Coastal area.

I have the Confederate service records for this set of Bounds.  Their Union service records, where applicable, are on the way.

In addition to these Smiths and Bounds, I have a Uriah Lee of Co. G, 1st NO.  I could not find a Confederate unit for him.  His service records are on the way as well.

If it’s one thing you can say it’s that the Bounds family was torn in two.  Speaking of being divided, I have always felt for my great-great-great aunt, Nancy.  She married Elijah Lee whose headstone says he was in the 4th MS Cavalry.  However, I think this was a mistake and that he did not fight at all or maybe in a unit I haven’t discovered yet.  But his brother, Uriah, fought in the 1st NO.  Their first cousin, Eli Lee, however, fought in the 7th Battalion MS Infantry and was paroled after Vicksburg.  So Nancy’s brother and brothers-in-law fought for the Union while her cousin and possibly her husband fought for the Confederacy.  No Confederate unit could be found for Uriah and Eli did not join the 1st NO after paroled.  As a sidenote:  these Lees are third cousins to Robert E. Lee.

This is what I have discovered in my research so far.  I haven’t been able to find much on the 1st NO other than the brief history available on the Internet and have assumed it was more or less a type of home guard unit for the protection of New Orleans from all the guerrilla warfare going on in southwestern Louisiana.

I appreciate you taking the time to read through this.  I’d be interested in learning anything you have to share.  Thank you for your time.

Kindest regards,
Shelby Harriel

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Nancy McCary Sumrall Holyfield Sumrall
& Elizabeth Hinton Coats Sumrall


by Ed Payne

At the end of the Civil War, widow Nancy McCary Sumrall entertained a marriage offer tendered by widower Moses Holyfield.  Nancy was 28 and the mother of four young sons.  Moses, although inconsistent in reporting his age, had probably entered his seventies.  His children from his first marriage were all grown and on their own.  Like most of his Piney Woods neighbors, Moses was not a wealthy man.  Still, he owned 450 acres of land, of which 80 were cleared for cultivation.  He had not been a slave owner, so he suffered no finance losses due to emancipation.  Nancy’s husband had died while serving in the Confederate Army in 1862.  We do not know how long Nancy deliberated over the matter, nor do we know whether her practical considerations and emotional sentiments were in harmony or in conflict.  What is known is that in due course Nancy accepted Moses Holyfield’s proposal and became his bride.

Marriages between men of advanced years and women several decades their junior did not begin in the wake of the Civil War.  Throughout the nineteenth century women bore the burden of frequent pregnancies that often began in their teens and—if their health, endurance, and luck proved sufficient—might continue for another three decades.  If any of these attributes failed them, their death usually necessitated the search for a new wife; preferably one still comfortably within the range of childbearing years.  Second and third marriages resulted from a pragmatic understanding of the workload required to maintain a household in a subsistence level economy.  The death of a wife left children without a mother in an era when children attended privately operated schools only sporadically, if at all.  In addition to child care, women performed an array of essential functions:  cooking and cleaning, making of clothing and numerous household items such as soap and candles, and cultivating vegetable gardens.  If there were no daughters old enough to assume these duties, the absence of a wife would be keenly felt.  This was true even in the higher realms of Piney Woods society.  Slave owner Isaac Anderson was among the wealthiest men in Jones County when his wife Teresia Powell Anderson died in 1850.  After a decent interval, the widower Anderson set about courting Sarah Rebecca Deason, the daughter of a local merchant with whom he was well acquainted.  Two years later, the sixty-six year old Isaac had successfully won the hand of twenty-three year old Sarah Rebecca.

The toll the Civil War exacted upon the male population of the South had a discernable, if not necessarily radical, impact on the institution of marriage.  In 1870 Jones County contained 449 white females between the ages of 20 and 40, compared to only 332 males.  And within this reduced pool of men, it can be assumed that some portion had lost limbs or otherwise been seriously impaired by the war.  Despite these obstacles, Piney Wood women, whether single or widowed, could and did marry local men during the Reconstruction era.  But in order to do so, many had to revise their concepts about what constituted a suitable domestic partner.

Nancy McCary was born in Alabama in 1837.  Her parents, Tandy and Cloah McCary, were both natives of South Carolina.  The birth states for their children indicate that around 1843 the McCary family moved across the state line to Wayne County, Mississippi.  Nancy became the bride of Elisha Sumrall in1852 when she was 15 and he was 21.  The location of the couple over the next decade is unknown.  But later records reveal that Nancy gave birth to at least four sons:  Benjamin (1854), Theodore (1856), James (1858), and Jefferson (1861).  The question remains as to whether the Jacob Sumrall (1852) who later married Martha Rushing Walters was the eldest son of Elisha and Nancy (see part two of Jones County Widows).

Like many other men having a family to support, Elisha did not join in the first wave of Confederate volunteers in the spring of 1861.  On March 26, 1862, however, he enlisted in Company I of the 36th Alabama Volunteers and was dispatched to Mt. Vernon Arsenal, outside of Mobile.  There his military service came to an abrupt end on June 4 when he died, probably of a camp disease, a scant two months and 10 days after his enlistment.  On October 17, 1862 Nancy filed papers to obtain his back pay.  A Confederate paymaster computed the amount due as $50.66.  The request made its ponderous way through the war time bureaucracy until, on November 28, 1863, approval was granted by the Comptroller’s Office.  Nancy signed a receipt for the payment on January 15, 1864.  During the interval while she and her children waited, Confederate currency had suffered an inflation rate exceeding 700%, rendering her settlement essentially worthless.

Sometime after receiving her token payment, Nancy moved to Jones County.  She may well have sought to remove herself and her young sons from harm’s way.  The Mobile and Ohio Railroad, which passed through Wayne County, held strategic value for both armies.  Jones County was devoid of railroads and had a sizable community of Sumrall in-laws, making it an attractive haven.  In her new surroundings Nancy made the acquaintance of Moses Holyfield.  He had been born in South Carolina, probably circa 1796, and moved his family to Jones County in the 1830s.  Based on the 1840 and 1850 censuses, Moses and his wife Milly had seven sons and one daughter.  By 1860, the only child remaining in the household was a grown son named Mark, age 33.

Although Moses did not own slaves, evidence indicates he felt strongly about the secessionist cause.  On May 4, 1861 he enlisted in the 8th Regiment, Mississippi Volunteers at Ellisville and traveled 57 miles to the rendezvous point at Enterprise.  Upon ascertaining that Moses was 65 years old, the officers doubtlessly saluted his determination and vigor, but sent him home.

Millie Holyfield, who was approximately the same age as her husband, died towards the end of the war.  This left Moses facing his final years with a sizable farm and an empty house.  If the growing number of young widows around him did not fill Moses with delight—since each widow suggested the role attrition was playing in determining the final outcome of the war—at least it made him aware that his prospects for another marriage had been greatly enhanced.  What may well have encouraged him to initiate a courtship of Nancy was not just her youth, but the prospect of welcoming her four boys into his household.

As mentioned previously, Moses Holyfield had carved out a modest yeoman’s existence.  In 1870 he possessed 80 acres of crop land, with another 100 acres in pasture and 270 acres of woodlands.  His livestock holdings were small for the region:  six cows, seven sheep, and 10 pigs.  The previous year the farm had produced 100 bushels of corn, 75 bushels of sweet potatoes, and a cash crop of two bales of cotton.  His farm clearly stood to benefit from the additional labor of four young stepsons.  The census of 1870 captures the transformation taking place within the Holyfield household.  Moses gave his age as 75 while Nancy stated she was 32.  Her sons ranged in age from nine to 16.  With them was 14 year old Richard Holyfield, a young relative of Moses, working as a farm laborer.  In addition, Moses and Nancy had started a new family, consisting of son William, three, and a six month old daughter named Mary.  For Moses it could truly be said that life had begun, again, at 70.

Nancy must have understood when she agreed to the marriage that it would not be a long term relationship.  Moses died in the mid-1870s and Nancy again found herself a widow, having added three small children to the household (another son, Charles, had been born in 1874).  But, owning to her second marriage, her circumstances were more secure.  The interlude with Moses had provided time for her sons to reach manhood.   Although sons James and Jefferson remained in Nancy’s household in 1880, they were leaving their teens.  Their older brother Benjamin, married and a father, lived next door.  Having regained some security in her life, for perhaps half a decade Nancy remained single.  When she did marry again, it was in the fall of 1883 to Carney Slay Sumrall, a man who had lost his wife four months earlier.

Marriage license of Carney S. Sumrall and Nancy Holyfield

The Sumrall’s were among the early settlers in south Mississippi.  Patriarch Thomas Sumrall was born in South Carolina in 1740 and died in Marion County in 1821.  He was the great-grandfather of Elisha Sumrall, Nancy’s first husband.  (This line descended from son Levi Sumrall and his son Jacob Sumrall, who was Elisha’s father.)  He was also the great-grandfather of Carney Slay Sumrall.  (This line descended from son Moses Sumrall and his son Howell Sumrall, who was Carney’s father.)  Thus Carney was a second cousin of Nancy’s first husband.  There may have been a closer connection linking the couple: some genealogies give the maiden name of Carney Sumrall wife as Catherine (‘Kitty’) McCary.  This matches the name of Nancy’s older sister on the 1850 census.

Carney Slay Sumrall, named after a Wayne County Baptist minister, was born in 1830.  He was a Confederate veteran who had enlisted in Company E (the Shubuta Guards) of the 37th Regiment Mississippi Volunteers on March 8, 1862 at age 32.  Unlike his cousin Elisha, Carney seemed able to cope with camp life, suffering only one recorded bout of illness.  Although records are sketchy, they suggest he took part in the siege of Vicksburg and was paroled.  He is documented as having surrendered with his unit at Citronelle, Alabama on May 11, 1865.  He returned to farming in Jasper County where, in 1870, he was enumerated with his wife and a daughter named Mary.  By 1880 he had moved to the small Jones County community of Pinelville, where he and Catherine scratched out a merger existence in a childless household.  Catherine died in May of 1883 and soon thereafter the new widower must have begun calling on Nancy Holyfield.

Carney Sumrall appears to have ranked below the widow Holyfield in terms of economic status.  He reported the value of his 1879 farm production as $95, paltry even by contemporary Jones County standards.  But Nancy may have reached a point where she could afford to let sentiment play a larger role in her decisions. On September 17, 1883 Carney Sumrall and Nancy McCary Sumrall Holyfield applied for a marriage license and solemnized their vows six days later.  At the time Nancy was 46 and Carney 53.  She was leaving her childbearing years behind and may well have looked forward to a long marriage.  If so, it was an unfulfilled wish.  Just six years later, on December 12, 1889, Carney Sumrall applying for another marriage license—this time to Elizabeth Hinton Coats.  The absence of any divorce proceedings in the surviving court records indicates Nancy had died.   Although some genealogies list her as dying in November of 1902 and being interred in Wayne County, they have apparently confused her with another Nancy Sumrall, born in 1847, who was the wife of Enoch S. Sumrall.

Marriage license of Carney S. Sumrall and Elizabeth Coats

In wedding Elizabeth Coats, Carney had once again chosen a Civil War widow.  Born in 1838, Elizabeth Hinton had been the wife of Thomas N. Coats.  He, like other married men facing conscription, enlisted on May 12, 1862 and was mustered into Company F of the 7th Battalion Mississippi Infantry.  He also participated in the siege at Vicksburg and, following its surrender, was paroled.  A muster roll in the Mississippi Archives indicates Thomas N. Coats went absent without leave from January 3 until April 10, 1864, during which time Elizabeth became pregnant with their third child.  Five days before Col. Lowry led troops into Jones County to deal with the deserters, he rejoined his unit.  Thomas was subsequently captured on July 4, 1864 at the battle of Kennesaw Mountain, near Atlanta.  From there he was shipped north to Camp Douglas, Illinois where he died of pleurisy on February 9, 1865—three days after his fellow Jones Countian George Warren Walters had died in the same camp.   (see part two of Jones County Widows). Perhaps unwilling to loosen her standards regarding potential suitors, Elizabeth remained a widow and reared her three children.  Twenty-four years elapsed between the death of her husband and her acceptance of Carney Sumrall’s proposal.

Carney and Elizabeth were last enumerated on the 1900 census.  Elizabeth died in July of 1902 and was buried in the Union Line cemetery near Soso.  In May of 1907 Carney was admitted to Beauvoir, the former gulf coast residence of Jefferson Davis that had been converted into a Confederate retirement home.  But he later discharged himself and returned to Jones County, where he died in 1909.  His grave is beside that of wife Catherine in the old section of Hickory Grove cemetery in Laurel.  The author has been unable to locate the grave sites of Moses Holyfield and Nancy McCary Sumrall Holyfield Sumrall.  It is known that Nancy’s sons by Elisha Sumrall continued to reside in Jones County until their deaths in the 1920s and 30s.

Hayes Cottage, Beauvoir Soldiers Homes, Biloxi, MS, where C. S. Sumrall once resided.

Nancy McCary Sumrall and Elizabeth Hinton Coats demonstrate how two Piney Woods women, eventually fated to marry a common husband, reacted to their status as Civil War widows.  When given an early opportunity to re-marry, albeit to an elderly man, Nancy accepted the offer as a practical partnership necessary to sustain her family through difficult times.   We can surmise that Elizabeth was less inclined to make such compromises, with the result that she retained her widow’s status for two dozen years after the war.  Whether accepting or rejecting prospective mates found among the reduced pool of post-war men, however, both women coped with the circumstances life had presented them.

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A conversation with Victoria E. Bynum  

Author of The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies  

Published April 15, 2010  

$35.00 hardcover, ISBN 978-0-8078-3381-0  

The Long Shadow of the Civil War

  

Q. There seems no end to books about the American Civil War. What does The Long Shadow of the Civil War offer that is new?
A.
Although Civil War books about the home front are not new, this is a new sort of home front study that focuses on three communities from three different states. Rather than close with the war and Reconstruction, The Long Shadow of the Civil War follows individual Unionists and multiracial families into the New South era and, in some cases, into the twentieth century. This historical sweep allows the reader to understand the ongoing effects of the war at its most personal levels.
   

Q. What led you to combine three Civil War home fronts, all noted as areas of violent disorder, in one study? Why these three?
A.
Most basically, I combined them in order to provide in-depth comparisons of the communities within the same volume. But there’s more to it than that; the communities have important links to one another. The North Carolina Piedmont was the ancestral seedbed of migration into what became Jones County, Mississippi. Later, East Texas attracted many non-slaveholding Mississippi families seeking a less-developed piney woods region.  

All three regions exhibited fierce Unionist activity during the Civil War, with brothers fighting in separate deserter bands across state lines in two of the communities. So, combining them in one study provided a wonderful opportunity to identify common characteristics of Southern Unionism, while also showing how different geographic settings influenced the nature of the inner civil wars.
   

Q. What were the most important similarities among the three communities of dissent? The most important differences?  

A. All three communities were located outside the South’s plantation belt and all had large non-slaveholding majorities. Important differences were religious practices and length of settlement. The North Carolina Quaker Belt had a history of religious dissent that included Moravian, Mennonite and Dunker sects as well as Quakers.   

Beginning around 1848, Wesleyan Methodism, with its anti-slavery ideals, gained popularity in this region. The Quaker Belt was also a long-settled region of expansive, deeply entwined family networks that lent force and stability to anti-Confederate sentiments.

By contrast, neither Jones County, Mississippi, nor Hardin County, Texas, exhibited significant or organized religious dissent against slavery. As in North Carolina, family networks were important to anti-Confederate activity; however, in East Texas, more recent migration from states like Mississippi meant that family networks were less extensive there. Less cohesive and deeply rooted communities, coupled with politicians’ successful linking of Texas’s 1836 revolution to the Southern cause of secession, undermined organized anti-Confederate activity among non-slaveholders in East Texas.  

Q. Why did you return to the Free State of Jones County, Mississippi, and to the North Carolina Quaker Belt, two regions that you wrote about in previous books, for this study?
A.
Ever since I discovered that a splinter band of Unionist deserters, led by several brothers of members of the Jones County band, kept Confederate forces at bay in the Texas Big Thicket, and after discovering ancestral links between the North Carolina Piedmont and Jones County, Mississippi, I have wanted to combine the inner civil wars of these three regions in the same volume. Doing so also gave me the opportunity to analyze research materials that were not included in my earlier works: two examples are documents concerning the lives of freedpeople and poor whites in Orange County, North Carolina, and Newt Knight’s 1887-1900 Mississippi claim files.  

Q. You cite abolitionism as a motive for anti-Confederate sentiments in only one of your three communities: that of the Randolph County area of the North Carolina Quaker Belt. How and why did religion play such an important role in this region, but not in Jones County, Mississippi, or the Big Thicket of East Texas?
A.
The Randolph County area of North Carolina (including Montgomery and Moore Counties) was the “heart” of the state’s Quaker Belt. Quaker opposition to slavery had faded over time because of the state’s changing demographics, but it never entirely disappeared, making this region fertile ground for Wesleyan Methodists who gained a foothold in the 1850s. In Montgomery County, the Rev. Adam Crooks condemned slavery from the pulpit of the Lovejoy Methodist Church. In contrast, Jones County, Mississippi and Hardin County, Texas, were Baptist strongholds during the secession crisis. I have found no evidence that any Baptist church in either county publically opposed slavery or secession; indeed, the Leaf River Baptist Church of Jones County publically supported the Confederacy.
   

Q. Newt Knight, the controversial “captain” of the Knight Company, is a polarizing figure who even today evokes heated arguments among readers. Why is this so, and how did it affect your historical treatment of him?
A.
As long as we continue to debate the causes, meanings, and effects of the Civil War, Newt Knight’s motives and character will also be debated. We know that he defied Confederate authority during the war, supported Republican Reconstruction afterward, and openly crossed the color line to found a mixed-race community. To neo-Confederates, such facts make Newt a scoundrel and a traitor to his country and his race. To neo-abolitionists, he is a backwoods Mississippi hero who defended his nation and struggled to uplift the black race. My response to such powerful and emotional narratives is to examine critically not only the documentary evidence, but also the mountain of published opinions about Newt Knight that have too often functioned as “evidence” for both sides of the debate.  

Q. Newt Knight, his white wife Serena, and former family slave, Rachel, were the founding parents of a multiracial community. What sort of a community was it in terms of racial identity? How did members of the community identify themselves racially, as opposed to how the larger white society defined them?
A. As segregation took hold in New South Mississippi (1880-1900), the descendants of Newt, Serena, and Rachel were increasingly defined by white society as black, i.e. as “Negroes,” despite being of European, African, and Native American ancestry. Before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s, however, few of these descendants identified themselves as “black.” Depending on their physical appearance, including skin shade and hair texture, descendants of Newt and Rachel variously defined themselves as white, Indian, or colored. Whereas white society applied a “one drop rule” that grouped together all people of African ancestry, these descendants self-identified in ways that reflected their multiracial heritage.  

There is no direct evidence of how Newt, Serena, or Rachel racially identified their multiracial descendants. Descendant Yvonne Bivins, the most thorough Knight researcher, was told by her elders that Newt Knight actively encouraged his descendants to identify as white. All that is certain—but nonetheless remarkable—is that they economically supported, nurtured, and lived openly among both white and multiracial kinfolk all their lives.  

Q. By crossing the color line, Newt Knight deviated from the norm by acknowledging and supporting his multiracial descendants. What may we deduce from those facts about his political views on race relations in the era of segregation?
A.
Since we don’t know that Newt Knight identified his multiracial descendants as “black,” we can’t deduce from his intimate relationships with them, or by his efforts to enroll them in a local school (one that he helped create) alongside his white descendants, that he supported equality for all people of African ancestry—that is, for people classed as “Negroes.” Only if we adhere to the “one drop rule”—and assume that Newt Knight did, too—can we conclude that Newt’s protection of his own kinfolk extended to all Americans of African ancestry.  

Newt’s efforts on behalf of freedpeople as a Republican appointee during Reconstruction do not necessarily make him an advocate of black equality, as some historians have argued. There were many Reconstruction Republicans who supported the same basic rights of marriage and military service that Newt upheld for freedpeople, while supporting segregation and opposing black voting rights. We simply don’t know Newt’s political position on these issues.  

Q. For thirty years, Newt Knight petitioned the federal government to compensate his ad hoc military band, the Knight Company, for its support of the Union during the Civil War. What do those petitions reveal about the claims process itself, as well as the Knight Band?
A.
The transcripts from Newt Knight’s extensive claims files suggest the federal government’s hostility toward claims of Southern Unionism, especially after 1887, as the nation sank into a deep economic depression. That year, Newt renewed efforts begun in 1870 to win compensation.  

Several depositions of Jones County men made a strong case for Unionism among the Knight Company. The passage of time, however, doomed Newt’s claim to failure. His Washington, DC lawyers were unfamiliar with the Jones County uprising, while witnesses’ memories of the war faded over time. Most damaging, crucial evidence presented in Knight’s 1870 petition was misplaced by the government and never presented after 1887. At the same time, an expanding literature that portrayed the white South as having been unified around secession made Northerners all the more suspicious of Southern claims of Unionism.  

Q. The Long Shadow of the Civil War is as much about the legacies of Civil War dissent as about the war itself. Why did you include both topics in a single volume?
A.
To truly understand the Civil War, we need to understand its long-term impact on the lives of those who endured it. Southerners who took a Unionist stance lived with that decision all their lives, as did their children and grandchildren. Some struggled to put the war behind them and never spoke of it again; others, like Newt Knight and Warren Collins, defended their actions all their lives, and went on to fight new political battles.  

Multiracial communities that grew out of war and emancipation grew larger and more complex in the late nineteenth century. Faced with racial violence and segregation, many of their members exited the South during these years. But among those who remained, we witness the birth of a multiracial Southern middle class.
   

Q. You locate a long tradition of political dissent among certain Jones County families that found expression in third party political movements after the Civil War. How does this New South agrarian radicalism shed light on Civil War Unionism and vice versa?
A.
In all three regions, I found examples of emerging class consciousness among non-slaveholding farmers as a result of the Civil War. Late in life, Newt Knight, for example, offered a class-based critique of Southern society. Two prominent Unionist brothers, Jasper J. Collins of Jones County, Mississippi, and Warren J. Collins of Hardin County, Texas, went even further, carving out political careers as populists and socialists in two separate states.  

A close study of individual lives reveals how the Civil War reshaped their perspectives. Of course, the majority of Southern Unionists did not join third-party political movements in the aftermath of war. It appears, however, that some ideologically committed Unionists, such as the Collinses of Mississippi and Texas, grew ever more militant in their political views as the years passed.  

Q. Your epilogue, “Fathers and Sons,” compares and contrasts three twentieth-century histories of individual guerrilla leaders written by their sons. What do these biographical sketches reveal about the impact of kinship and politics on the Civil War memories of Southern Unionist families?
A.
All three biographies were written after the deaths of their subjects, and reflect the need for sons to defend notorious fathers against charges of treason, lawlessness, or ignorance—especially in the wake of New South glorification of the Confederate cause. Further complicating Tom Knight’s biography of Newt Knight was his effort to present his father as a hero to the segregated, virulently white supremacist society of the 1930s. At the time of Newt’s death, Tom was estranged from him and the family’s interracial community. He knew little about his father’s early years (his narrative is studded with factual errors) and his “memories” of Newt Knight during the Civil War and Reconstruction were profoundly influenced by his need to valorize Newt and thereby restore respect for his family. Though very different in tone and accuracy, Vinson A. Collins’s and Loren Collins’s biographies of their fathers, Warren J. Collins of Texas and Jasper J. Collins of Mississippi, are presented not only with a sense of each son’s relationship with his father, but also in the context of the nation’s politicized memories of the Civil War.  

###
This interview may be reprinted in its entirety with the following credit: A conversation with Victoria E. Bynum, author of The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies (University of North Carolina Press, Spring 2010). The text of this interview is available at http://www.ibiblio.org/uncp/media/bynum/.
                                                                                                                              PUBLISHING DETAILS
ISBN 978-0-8078-3381-0, $35.00 hardcover
Publication date: April 15, 2010
240 pp., 9 illus., 1 map, bibl., notes, bibl., index
For more information: http://uncpress.unc.edu/books/T-7790.html
The University of North Carolina Press, http://www.uncpress.unc.edu
116 South Boundary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3808
919-966-3561 (office) 1-800-848-6224 (orders) 919-966-3829 (fax)  

CONTACTS
Publicity: Gina Mahalek, 919-962-0581; gina_mahalek@unc.edu
Sales: Michael Donatelli, 919-962-0475; michael_donatelli@unc.edu
Rights: Vicky Wells, 919-962-0369; vicky_wells@unc.edu

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I’m excited to announce that my new book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies, has been released!  Click here to see its table of contents.

The Long Shadow of the Civil War

To purchase a copy directly from the University of North Carolina Press, click on the title, above. You may also order it from Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

To learn more about The Long Shadow of the Civil War, watch for my next post on Renegade South, which will feature my recent Question & Answer interview with the University of North Carolina Press.

Vikki Bynum

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