Free State Of Jones

Jimklag

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 3, 2017
Location
Chicagoland
I finally got to see this movie last night. It was pretty well done and is worth watching if you haven't already seen it.

My question to the members is what is the level of historical accuracy of the film. I've not studied much on the subject, though several of the books I've read talk about the Kingdom Of Jones without going into much detail. I've not familiarized myself with the biography of Newton Knight other than a couple brief articles on the web. Have any of you gone into any detailed study on the subject?
 

Desert Kid

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Arizona
I finally got to see this movie last night. It was pretty well done and is worth watching if you haven't already seen it.

My question to the members is what is the level of historical accuracy of the film. I've not studied much on the subject, though several of the books I've read talk about the Kingdom Of Jones without going into much detail. I've not familiarized myself with the biography of Newton Knight other than a couple brief articles on the web. Have any of you gone into any detailed study on the subject?

Without spoiling too much for other users, how Knight killed Major Amos MacLemore in the movie is completely ahistorical to what actually happened.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
I finally got to see this movie last night. It was pretty well done and is worth watching if you haven't already seen it.

My question to the members is what is the level of historical accuracy of the film. I've not studied much on the subject, though several of the books I've read talk about the Kingdom Of Jones without going into much detail. I've not familiarized myself with the biography of Newton Knight other than a couple brief articles on the web. Have any of you gone into any detailed study on the subject?
There's a lot of older threads about the subject, here's just one of them:

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/movie-in-the-works-about-the-free-state-of-jones.105864/
 

19thGeorgia

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Without spoiling too much for other users, how Knight killed Major Amos MacLemore in the movie is completely ahistorical to what actually happened.
*Spoilers*

It's ahistorical at just about every turn. I finally got to see this movie over the weekend. Here's my assessment-

Movie: Knight was an avenging angel of the poor.

Knight and his company of deserters would kill anyone (including civilians) who was perceived as an enemy - rich or poor.

Movie: Runaway slaves and women fought with Knight.

I checked a roster of Knight's company with census records. Everyone I could identify in those records was white. No women.

Movie: Major Amos McLemore ("Elias Hood" in the movie) hanged several boys about 10-12 years old.

McLemore hanged no one.

Movie: McLemore was strangled by Newt Knight in revenge for the hangings.

McLemore was shot in the back by one of the deserters - believed to have been Newt Knight.

Movie: Gunfight at the funeral. Battle with Confederates on the streets of Ellisville.

Both are false. Knight's company had a few skirmishes with Confederates. No battles.

Movie: Sherman sent Knight several hundred rifles.

Knight never received any aid from Union forces.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
*Spoilers*

It's ahistorical at just about every turn. I finally got to see this movie over the weekend. Here's my assessment-

Movie: Knight was an avenging angel of the poor.

Knight and his company of deserters would kill anyone (including civilians) who was perceived as an enemy - rich or poor.

Movie: Runaway slaves and women fought with Knight.

I checked a roster of Knight's company with census records. Everyone I could identify in those records was white. No women.

Movie: Major Amos McLemore ("Elias Hood" in the movie) hanged several boys about 10-12 years old.

McLemore hanged no one.

Movie: McLemore was strangled by Newt Knight in revenge for the hangings.

McLemore was shot in the back by one of the deserters - believed to have been Newt Knight.

Movie: Gunfight at the funeral. Battle with Confederates on the streets of Ellisville.

Both are false. Knight's company had a few skirmishes with Confederates. No battles.

Movie: Sherman sent Knight several hundred rifles.

Knight never received any aid from Union forces.
Isn't it a guerrillas job to kill anyone thought of as an enemy? It's not a fie9job to fight pitched battles as long as a guerrilla survives he ties down enemy troops and if active kills enemy combatants. Knight accomplished the above.
Both Confederate and Unionist guerrillas played by the same playbook except Unionist guerrillas didn't massacre a,while town if unarmed men and boys,such hasLawrence, Kansas. Agreed the movie was not 100 percent accurate. None the less it told,a,story that the Lost,Cause,advocates did not want told.
Leftyhunter
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2017
In the movie, Newt Knight became disillusioned with the Confederacy, but then moved to doing the very thing he abhorred about war (as noted in the killing of his young friend at the start of the movie). I found this one of the most difficult aspects of the movie. He chose not to take up arms again for the Confederacy, but then willingly took up arms against them. The young boy that was killed at the start of the movie could have been one of the young men he shot later. The beginning of the movie also gives you the impression he was more pacifist in nature. I found this a strange disconnect.
 

19thGeorgia

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Agreed the movie was not 100 percent accurate.
It's probably not 20% accurate. A few fictional elements thrown in here and there are not objectionable (sometimes it's necessary filler to tell a story), but that doesn't go for bald-faced lies. The first part of the movie is not bad, but the funeral fight and a few other scenes that follow look like something out of a comic book. All Matthew McConaughey needed was a cape. Editing was a problem. They have a buildup of the invasion of General Lowry into Jones County and then skip the event entirely.
None the less it told,a,story that the Lost,Cause,advocates did not want told.
Leftyhunter
You complain of "Lost Cause" but approve of this movie?
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
I saw the movie recently and liked it quite a bit.

I didn't realize the history was so far off. The DVD I rented from the library had historian interviews attached that left the strong impression the movie was historically accurate, except for the invented dialogue.
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2017
I saw the movie recently and liked it quite a bit.

I didn't realize the history was so far off. The DVD I rented from the library had historian interviews attached that left the strong impression the movie was historically accurate, except for the invented dialogue.
I did a follow up and watched it again, and having learnt more about the CW since my first viewing (which was when the movie came out) it left a different impression the second time around. It was a lot more substantive than I had first realized, but it appears from this thread that it's historical accuracy leaves something to be desired. I think movie 'trailers' also have a lot to answer for. I know I went to see this film expecting something different, probably based on the trailer, and came away feeling dissatisfied. For that reason alone, it was probably worth a second viewing.
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
*Spoilers*

It's ahistorical at just about every turn. I finally got to see this movie over the weekend. Here's my assessment-

Movie: Knight was an avenging angel of the poor.

Knight and his company of deserters would kill anyone (including civilians) who was perceived as an enemy - rich or poor.

Movie: Runaway slaves and women fought with Knight.

I checked a roster of Knight's company with census records. Everyone I could identify in those records was white. No women.

Movie: Major Amos McLemore ("Elias Hood" in the movie) hanged several boys about 10-12 years old.

McLemore hanged no one.

Movie: McLemore was strangled by Newt Knight in revenge for the hangings.

McLemore was shot in the back by one of the deserters - believed to have been Newt Knight.

Movie: Gunfight at the funeral. Battle with Confederates on the streets of Ellisville.

Both are false. Knight's company had a few skirmishes with Confederates. No battles.

Movie: Sherman sent Knight several hundred rifles.

Knight never received any aid from Union forces.

Are you disputing that Knight's force included runaway slaves?

Because if that is a falsehood, then it destroys the whole premise of the film.

Your other points of criticism are all generally supported by serious students of the era, but I don't think those few scenes compromise the film as a whole.

One exception, for me, is the scene where the young boys are hanged. When I found out that there wasn't any factual basis for this, it really shook my confidence in the movie producers.
 
Last edited:

TomP

Sergeant
Joined
Sep 29, 2015
Location
Corinth, MS
The battle he was in which led him to return to Jones County was the 1st day of the Battle of Corinth, October 3, 1862. The fighting he experienced was in the large fields east of the "White House." He was in the 7th Mississippi Battalion of Infantry commanded by Lt. Col. James S. Terrall. During one of the several charges across the field Terrall was mortally wounded with his sword in one hand and his Kerr revolver in the other. The 7th would see action the next day and though it was hot, it was not as bad as what they had seen the previous day. These items are on display in the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center. Along with them is his Bible and a memorandum book filled with transcribed letters he was writing to his infant son. His wife had died just before the war and James did not believe he would survive. The letters are for his son as he approached adulthood and are a father's instructions on how to conduct himself in society and in business.

IMG_5229 (1).JPG
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Isn't it a guerrillas job to kill anyone thought of as an enemy? It's not a fie9job to fight pitched battles as long as a guerrilla survives he ties down enemy troops and if active kills enemy combatants. Knight accomplished the above.
Both Confederate and Unionist guerrillas played by the same playbook except Unionist guerrillas didn't massacre a,while town if unarmed men and boys,such hasLawrence, Kansas. Agreed the movie was not 100 percent accurate. None the less it told,a,story that the Lost,Cause,advocates did not want told.
Leftyhunter

Unless I missed the point of the movie entirely, it was Knight's aim to prevent Confederate forces from running roughshod over the local communities of Jones County. He was fighting back against a perceived wrong in his own local community. That's different than being a Unionist guerrilla.

The movie makes a valuable contribution to Hollywood Civil War lore in that it highlights the reality of internal dissent in the CSA, a reality which has been almost completely ignored in the 100 year history of moviemaking. There are real problems with the film, but there are real strengths, too.
 
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