The Smithsonian Magazine recently published an article, "The True Story of the Free State of Jones." In this article the Rosin Heel's website was quoted in describing Newton Knight as "... a thief, murderer, adulterer and a deserter.” While this is true let the record show that there is plenty of evidence to support this statement. Newt Knight murdered Amos McLemore in October, 1863 in the Deason home while he was nursing a cold and warming in front of the bedroom fire place. It was also alleged that Knight murdered his brother-in-law who he suspected was having an affair with his wife while he was away fighting for the Confederacy. While the movie, "The Free State of Jones" will celebrate the affair between the slave Rachel and Newt Knight, it will no doubt excuse this adulterous affair as a celebration of inter-racial relationships long before its time.
It is interesting that the author of this article had no problem dismissing the claims of the Rosin Heels concerning Newt Knight but was eager to quote a history teacher from Jones Junior College who claimed Knight ".... was a Primitive Baptist who didn’t drink, didn’t cuss," and "doted on children...." This statement is impossible to prove unless the history teacher was with Knight throughout his childhood and adult life and never witnessed him cussing or drinking. One can see how absurd this statement is and the JCJC history teacher shows his lack of historical integrity in making such a claim especially to a national publication.
The Smithsonian author showed poor investigative skills in finding the spokesman for the Rosin Heels. A member of the Rosin Heels was quoted but not an officer. It seems little effort was made in tracking down an officer who are all listed on the home page. Did the author contact any of these people? The Rosin Heels member chosen to discuss Newt Knight and the Free State of Jones no doubt had the credentials to do so. He has put countless hours into researching the topic. But the Smithsonian writer seemly ignored this man's historic knowledge opting for his opinion when the camp member referred to Knight as "white trailer trash." Sadly, getting both sides of this story was not on the author's agenda nor was it for the writers of the movie, "The Free State of Jones." The first trailer to the movie proves this. The history of this story is simple to them, bad guy verses good guy. Confederates were the oppressors, Knight and his gang the heroes, the piney woods version of Robin Hood with his merry men. In their narrative there is no room for a dissenting opinion that challenges Hollywood's version of Newton Knight and the Free State of Jones. Regardless of how one feels about these topics, the movie will betray the historical facts and play to 21st century sentiments and drama. The true story of the Free State of Jones is long and complicated and can never be told in an article, blog or two hour movie. The characters in this saga are also complicated and should never be regulated to a good guy, bad guy scenario. Anyone doing this, and that includes this website, violates the sacredness of truth and history. The webmaster of this site should be more careful to observe this fact but we doubt the producers and director of the upcoming movie or the Smithsonian magazine writer will do likewise.
Submitted by a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans