After writing my critique of The State of Jones, I took some time to read some of the criticisms of the book (i.e., I sat around in court and played with my Blackberry).
I read about the alleged historical holes in the book pointed out by the author Vicki Bynum. Specifically, my fellow bloggers discussed the lack of proof that Newton Knight actually served during the siege of Vicksburg. Second, they also talked about the evident lack of a declaration of secession by the Unionists in Jones County.
I think you might give the authors a pass on the Vicksburg question. Knight was captured before the siege and his unit found itself trapped in the city. It is a fair assumption to make that he was there. The lack of documentary proof of his presence there is understandable. Thousands of Confederate soldiers languished in the Southern earthworks and in the city itself. It was a chaotic situation. The authors of The State of Jones could hardly be expected to produce doumentation that probably did not exist or was most likely destroyed. There was no needle in that haystack because the needle probably never existed.
As for the declaration of secession, that may be correct. Throughout the book, I did not remember reading about a formal document severing Jones County from the Confederacy. It is clear that Southern authorities lost control of the county due to the depredations of Newton Knight and others. However, I don't recall a mention of a formal secession. As I mentioned in my review, they quoted extensively from their primary source materials. Such a declaration would definitely have made their list.
I hope Stauffer and Jenkins can answer these questions. They spent four years researching and writing their book. Perhaps they can come forward with an adequate rebuttal.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry