Free State of Jones is a 2016 American film inspired by the life of Newton Knight and his armed revolt against the Confederacy in Jones County, Mississippi, throughout the American Civil War. Written and directed by Gary Ross, the film stars Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali and Keri Russell.
The story is based on the history of Jones County, Mississippi during the Civil War and the immediately following period. Although the plot of the movie is fiction, the overall story follows the history of Jones County, and many of the events portrayed are true. The film is credited as “based on the books The Free State of Jones by Victoria E. Bynum and The State of Jones by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer”.
After surviving the 1862 Battle of Corinth, Newton Knight, a poor farmer from Jones County serving as a battlefield medic in the Confederate Army, deserts and returns home to his farm and his wife, Serena. While there, he befriends Rachel, a slave woman who has secretly learned to read.
Newton’s disenchantment with the Confederacy grows after finding out that troops were taking crops and livestock for taxes. After helping one family resist such a raid, he is bitten by a slave-catching dog. With the help of abolitionist Aunt Sally and multiple slaves, he escapes to a swamp where some runaway slaves led by Moses Washington tend to his wounds.
After the Siege of Vicksburg, many Confederates abandoned their post, and many of them ended up at the swamp. The Confederates and runaway slaves grouped up, and created a revolt against the Confederacy. They accomplished their goal and capture a piece of south-east Mississippi, organizing it as the “Free State of Jones”. Despite getting little help from the Union, they manage to hold out until the end of the war.
Newton resumed to fight racial inequality. He helped free Moses’ son from an “apprenticeship” to Rachel’s former master and registering freedmen to vote. He and Rachel have a son, Jason. Since they are unable to marry, Newton arranges to deed a parcel of land to her.
Source Page – Wikipedia