Secession of Jones County (continued)
There were in Jones county three distinct groups of men who might have
felt inclined to pass an ordinance of secession while the war was in progress.
The first of these were the citizens who were there before the opening
of the war, took part in the election of Powell to the Secession Convention,
and afterward enlisted in the Confederate army. The second were the old
men and officers who controlled civil affairs under the Confederate Government.
The third were those men who were not satisfied with the Confederacy and
were collected in Jones county under the leadership of Newt Knight.
The writer has seen a large number of men who
belong to the first of these groups. Although some of them say they were
dissatisfied with secession, all deny that they ever had any intention
of seceding and say that they never heard such an intention expressed by
any one else. They enlisted early in the war and served until they were
mustered out in 1865, as faithful to the Confederacy as any troops in the
The old men and officers were in general loyal to the Confederacy,
as was shown by their fierce opposition to the Federal troops when they
attempted to pass through Jones county. A detachment of Federal troops
had been sent across the country from near Brookhaven for the purpose of
destroying the Mobile and Ohio railroad about Waynesboro. Lieutenant W.
M. Wilson, of the 43rd Tennessee infantry, was sent to intercept this force.
In his report, Lieut. Wilson wrote that he had to start with two men from
the infantry company and a few of Terrill’s cavalry; also that he was joined
along the route by a number of men from Covington and Jones counties. On
June 25, 1863, at Rocky Creek, near Ellisville, Jones county, he succeeded
in getting in front of the Federals and by strategy was able to capture
the whole band, after killing one and wounding several. Messrs. Collins
and Parker stated that the county officers and some of the old men and
boys from Ellisville joined this lieutenant and fought in this battle.
Lieutenant Wilson afterwards turned the wounded and the dead over to the
these citizens, who cared for the one and buried the other. Their loyalty
was further shown when General Lowry was sent to Jones county, he and his
men were shown every kindness by the majority of the citizens and all the
The last named group, according to the testimony
of Jasper Collins and W. W. Sumrall, made no movement toward taking
charge of the county affairs or of carrying on any civil functions
at all further than offering their services to Sheriff Devall in case he
should need them to put down lawlessness.
There could not, therefore, have been any secession
movement in Jones county, unless it had been by such a group as the one
described to the writer of this paper by Mr. W. T. Lewis, Jr. He said he
had heard that eight men met in Tallahala swamp, a few miles above Ellisville,
and passed an ordinance of secession. He gave the names of some of these
men, one of whom was promptly interrogated on the subject. This gentleman
seemed very much surprised when asked about it, and replied that he had
never heard of the occurrence. Even granting that such a company had played
such a game of “make believe,” its action could not be called an action
of Jones county.
There seems to be only one person who really
contends that Jones county did secede, and if he could be found, perhaps,
he would do as the others have done who have written on the subject, tell
us that he knew nothing about it, or that he wrote from unsafe premises.
On the other hand, every one whom the writer of this paper saw of those
who were living in Jones county at the time or knew anything of affairs
there during the war, stated emphatically that such proceedings were not
heard of until many years after the close of the war.
Files of The Daily Free-Trader, 1841-2.
Proceedings of State Legislature, 1865-1870.
Magazine of American History, Nov. 1886.
Practical Essays on American Government, Prof. A.
Vol. I. Publications of Mississippi Historical Society.
Vol. XXIV, II. Records and Reports of War of Rebellion.
Rev. Hector Smith, Laurel, Miss., native of Jones
county, Confederate soldier, Presbyterian minister.
Henry Parker, Laurel, Miss., postmaster at Ellisville,
Miss., during the entire existence of the Confederacy.
M. P. Bush, Laurel, Miss., moved to Jones county 1850,
Confederate soldier, now on Board of Aldermen of Laurel, Miss.
A. B. Jordan, Ellisville, Miss., native of Jones county,
Confederate soldier, petitioner to have Jones changed to Davis county.
John Bynum, Ellisville, Miss., native of the county,
county clerk for several terms, Confederate soldier, petitioner to have
county’s name changed.
Mrs. E. M. Devall, Ellisville, Miss.; who lived at
Ellisville during the war and was wife of the sheriff of Jones county at
Ex-Gov. Robert Lowry, Jackson, Miss., who commanded
the troops sent to capture Knight.
Jasper Collins, Fellowship, Miss., native of Jones
county, 1st. Lieut. in Knight’s company, special commissioner to the Federal
officers at Vicksburg.
W. W. Sumrall, Ellisville, Miss., 2nd. Lieut. in Knight’s
Madison Herrington, J. T. Herrington, Jesse M. Bush,
John W. Quick, J. F. Parker, T. J. Hardy, W. H. McGowan, Dr. D. R. Pool
and others, all of Ellisville, Miss.