It seems that many within and without the State would answer this query in the affirmative, and even their ordinance of secession is given by one writer on the subject as follows :
" Whereas, The State of Mississippi, for reasons which appear justifiable, has seen fit to withdraw from the Federal Union; and,
" Whereas, We, the citizens of Jones County, claim the same riglit, thinking our grievances are sufficient by reason of an unjust law passed by the Confederate States of America forcing us to go into distant parts, etc., therefore, be it
" Resolved, That we sever the union heretofore existing between Jones County and the State of Mississippi, and proclaim our independence of the said State and of the Confederate States of. America; and we solemnly call upon Almighty God to witness and bless the act."
Such being the case, it has seemed to me in order to ad vert to a discussion in the Nation on this subject beginning March 24, 1892, which throws considerable lighten the question. In the paper of this date Samuel Willard, of Chicago, writes that he had been a soldier in the army which invaded Mississippi, and that he had never during the war heard of such an occurrence. When, therefore, he saw the statement made in the New England Magazine for November, 1891, the author being Professor Hart, he doubted its accuracy. It may be stated just here that Professor Hart, in a subsequent issue of the Nation gives as his authority Mr. Galloway, historian of the Sixth army corps, who published in the Magazine of American History for October, 1886, an article entitled "A Confederacy Within a Confederacy ; " but upon what au.hority Mr. Galloway based his statements does not appear.
He therefore wrote to the Governor of the State of Mississippi and to the clerk of Jones County, and elicited replies from both of these gentlemen, and Governor Stone inclosed a letter from his predecessor, Hon. Robert Lowry, who was sent to Jones County during the war in command of troops for the purpose of arresting deserters. The texts of the letters are too long to quote in full, so a few passages will have to suffice. Governor Stone writes :
" It gives me pleasure to inform you that the whole story is a fabrication, and there is scarcely any foundation for any part of it. To begin with, Jones County furnished perhaps as many soldiers to the army of the Confederacy as any other county of like population. * * * Many of them declined to go into the army in the beginning, but so far as formal withdrawal or resolution to that effect is concerned, no such thing ever occurred in Jones County. Hon. Robert Lowry was sept to Jones County during the war for the purpose of arresting and returning deserters to their commands, and there was some little fighting with these bands of deserters, or rather bush-wacking of his men by the deserters ; and some of the deserters were arrested and executed, but only a few. The whole story is the veriest fabrication, and I presume few persons of intelligence will believe any of it."
Ex-Governor Lowry writes: "The county furnished nearly and probably its entire quota of soldiers, many of whom did splendid service. No such effort as establishing a separate government was ever attempted. The story of withdrawal and establishing of a separate government is a pure fabrication—not the shadow of foundation for it"
Governor McLaurin, in a recent letter to me on this subject, writes : "I was a boy thirteen years old when the war commenced. "I was 'raised' in Smith County, a county adjoining Jones. I was at home the first three years of the war, and, if there was any attempt by Jones County to secede and set up a separate government, I did not hear anything of it. I was in a brigade that intercepted a Federal raid that started from Baton Rouge to Mobile in November or December, 1864, and we passed through or very near Jones County, and I never heard of any attempt to set up a separate government in the county. I think it is safe for you to negative the whole story."
E. B. Sharp Esq., chancery clerk, writes: "The report is utterly false in every particular."
The authority of these well known gentlemen is quite sufficient to dispose effectually of this canard reflecting upon the good name of a county which rendered brave and efficient service to the Confederacy.
Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, Volumes 1-2 By Mississippi Historical Society 1898"
["I was 'raised' in Smith County, a county adjoining Jones. I was at home the first three years of the war, and, if there was any attempt by Jones County to secede and set up a separate government, I did not hear anything of it. I was in a brigade that intercepted a Federal raid that started from Baton Rouge to Mobile in November or December, 1864, and we passed through or very near Jones County, and I never heard of any attempt to set up a separate government in the county]
The above mentioned action one of my problems with the myth of Jones County. That Union raid went right through the heart of that area and its not mentioned by Newt Night's family or his or the the Free State of Jones proponents; nor is any information about Newt Knight or the Free State of Jones mentioned in the federal reports.