This three-state study of Civil War dissenters compares community uprisings against the Confederacy in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas. The important roles played by women and people of color are emphasized throughout.
One essay (chapter 4) is devoted to Newt Knight’s thirty-year quest to gain federal compensation for his guerrilla band, the infamous Knight Company of Mississippi’s Free State of Jones.
In central North Carolina, religious dissenters who opposed slavery and secession fought a ferocious inner civil war against the Confederacy. The origins of this struggle, and women’s central role in it, are spotlighted in chapters 1 and 2.
Chapter 3 chronicles the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina in the war’s aftermath. The lives of black and mixed-race women during the Reconstruction and New South eras are given particular attention.
Chapters 1 and 5 tell the story of the staunchly Unionist Collins family of Texas. The Big Thicket’s guerrilla leader, Warren Jacob Collins, was a brother to Mississippi guerrilla Jasper Collins, right-hand man to Newt Knight during the Civil War. Both brothers were politically transformed by the Civil War: during the 1890s, Jasper founded Jones County, Mississippi’s first populist newspaper; in Texas, Warren ran for office twice on the Socialist ticket.
Chapter 6 traces the history of the multiracial community founded by Newt and former slave Rachel Knight into the 20th century, where descendants struggled against the degradation of racial segregation and second-class citizenship,
These are true stories of human struggles placed in historical context, their legacies reaching far into the twentieth century.
Categories: The Long Shadow of the Civil War