Free State of Jones (2016) Script

Left, left, right, left!

Left, left, left, right, left!

Left, left, left, right, left!

Left, left, left, right, left!

Stay with me!

Left, right, left!

Close that rank. Steady, boys.


Left, right, left!

Left, left, left, right, left!

Left of the colors, boys.

Guide right!

Left, left, left, right, left.

Top of the hill, boys. Just over that ridge.

Left, left, left, right, left!

Left, left, left, right, left!


Left, left, left, right, left!

Left, left, left, right...

Left, left, left, right, left!


Left, left, left, right, left!


Left, left, left, right, left!

Left, left, left, right, left!

Almost there, boy, almost there.

It's my leg. I know it's your leg.

It hurts.

Yep, they got ether.

Here we go. Here we go.

Move that private! We got an officer here!

Hold pressure, hold pressure.

Here we go.

Right there.

Let's get this off you.

If they think you're an officer, they'll fix you sooner.

Yeah, they'll fix you. Here we go.

One, two, three.

We need clean water!

Hold pressure here.

The Lord is the stronghold of my life.

Captain Jeffrey Baylor here, 10th Tennessee, MiniƩ ball, left thigh.

Captain! I've got a captain here!

Captain up front, captain up front.

Hold him down! Hold him!

Where are they going?



That's Carolina 3rd.

A bunch of them are headed home.

Twenty Negro Law.

If you own 20 Negroes, you get to go home.

Since when?

The 1st, I guess. New Conscription Act.

"Poor man's fight and a rich man's war."


You know they got a house in Natchez with gold doorknobs.

Not gold-lookin'... Gold, real gold.

"But all their gold and all their silver

"shall not protect them from the wrath of the Lord."

You so smart, Jasper, how come you're still here, huh?

"The oldest son on such plantations

"where 20 or more Negroes are owned or leased

"are hereby exempt in the armies

"of the Confederate States.

"Furthermore, any plantation

"where the total number of Negroes owned or leased

"shall equal 40, the eldest and second eldest

"shall be exempt from military service."

That's you and a brother.

And then it goes up one family member for every 20 Negroes after that.

So if we all chip in, buy us one Negro, we get a couple weeks off?

I swear, I'm tired of it, Jasper, tired of helping them fight for their damn cotton.

You don't fight anyway. You're a nurse.

Yeah, you get gut-shot out there tomorrow, Will, why don't you go find an artillery officer, see if he can help you?

I ain't fighting for cotton. I'm fighting for honor.

Oh, that's good, Will.

I'd sure hate to be fighting for cotton.

Who's there?

Uncle Newt.

Daniel? That's you, boy? Come here.

Hey, hey, hey, what happened?

They took me and they took the mule and our hogs, half the corn crib, and they told me I'd been drafted.

Can I stay with you?

Of course you can, boy, you're my kin.

They put me with another company and I finally ran off and I looked for you all day.

And then I found this man and I told him I was from Jones and he said that was Mississippi 7th and so...

I've got you, boy. I've got you, I've got you.

I've got you, boy. I've got you, I've got you.

You're with me. You're with me now.

Are you going to be there with me tomorrow?

Yeah, I'm going to be there with you tomorrow.

You hear me?

I'm going to be there with you tomorrow.


We're going to get out of this trench and we're going to make for a treeline about a quarter mile out.

You don't listen to no sergeant, you don't listen to no officers, only me. You understand now?

When I tell you to go, move fast and you stay close to me.

You've got a full load?

Half-cock, safe, full cock, die.

Ain't no different than shooting a bird or a deer, Daniel.

No different than that. All right?

All right.

They're shelling us. Move, move.

Stay low, low. Stay low.

See that rifle pit?

'Bout 50 yards out.

That's where we're headed.

That's where we're going.

You ready? Ready?

Come on. Go! Go! Go!

Stay behind me!

You all right? Huh?

You all right?

All right, now listen.

They've got sharpshooters out there.

We're going to make a way for that treeline, all right?

Find some shelter and hide out.

You ready?

All right, let's go. Stay low.

Down, boy. Down.

Who you with?

Mississippi 5th, F Company. We're all that's left.

All right, you're with us now.

We're making for that ridge over to the right.

So fix bayonets!

Fix your bayonet, boy! Yeah, I got it, I got it.



All right, you ready?


All right, on my command, ready, go! Go! Go!

Go! Go! Go! Go!

Go, boy, move! Hold, hold, hold, Daniel!

Hold, Daniel! Go! Move!


Uncle Newt?

Uncle Newt? I got you, boy.

You're gonna be all right. It's all right.

It hurts. I know it hurts.

Just hold onto me tight.

Hold onto me. Am I going to die?

Oh, you're not going to die. I'm going to fix you.

Could I get your help right here?

I've got a boy here. I've got a boy here!

Well, I've got a boy here!

I've got officers I can't even get to.

It hurts...

I got you, boy. I got you.

I got you, all right.

We'll get you a doctor.

Going to get you a doctor.

Hang on. Hang on.

Can I have some water?

In a second. In a second.

I'm just so thirsty.

Why am I so thirsty?

Hang on, boy. Hang on, boy.

Hang on. Hang on. Hang on.

There we go, there we go. There we go.

You love God, don't you, Daniel?


There we go.

I'm scared.

I know you are.

But you love God and God loves you.

You understand?

Jesus loves you, son.

You're not dying.

You're not dying.

You're not dying.

You're not... You're not dying.

You know they shoot deserters, don't you?

Hell, they shoot everybody around here anyway.

It don't seem to make no difference where the bullet comes from.

And you're stealing a mule.

You know, we can bury him proper right here, Newt.

We don't have to leave him.

He's going home, Jasper. It's where he belongs.


Take my hardtack too. It's a long trip.

'Preciate it.

He died with honor, Newt.

No, Will, he just died.

I tried to save him, Annie.

I did everything I could. He was... He... He...

It ain't your fault.

You didn't start this war, did you?

Or drag him out of here.

My boy.

My boy.

They hung three deserters down in Perry.

Didn't put 'em back in the army.

Just hung 'em.

Yeah, I got a leave.

No, you didn't.

His mama deserves to see her son again.

She don't deserve to see him like that.


No, she don't.

"If I go up to the heavens, you are there.

"If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

"Even in the darkness, will not be dark to you.

"The night will shine like day, "the darkness is as light to you.

"It is you who hath possessed my reign.

"It is you who hath covered me in my mother's womb."

No, not that cloth. I made that cloth!

Ma'am. Ma'am.

No! No! I made that cloth! That's my loom.

No! No! I worked so hard on that.

Ma'am, ma'am, stop it. Stop it.

That's for my baby! That's not for your babies.

We're just taking what's rightfully ours.

Please make them stop!

You got the court order? Yes, but...

What did the court order say?

That we will take 10%.

You're taking everything away! Why are you taking everything?

They took everything out the smokehouse.

And that ain't tax, they just ate it.

All that meal we ground.

Honey, we'll get you some more corn meal. Of course we will.

Well, that ain't the point! I grew that corn.

Everybody know how to blow one of these?

Yes, sir.

All right, look here. If they come back, I want you to blow that as loud as you can as soon as you hear them riding up.

Yes, sir. I'm just over this ridge here.

I'll be here soon.

You got any more of those?

Yeah, we need some more.

Gettin' hotter.

Let me feel him.

Come on, Will. Be a good boy.

He is a good boy. He's just got a fever is all.

He's burning up.

Where are you going?

To get a doctor.

You can't go in town. They'll arrest you.

I'm gonna go to Sally's place, have her fetch one.

You're goin' to that roadhouse?

We ain't got a doctor no more.

Doc Hacket moved to Alabama and Prentiss is off at the war.

Well, he's burning up, Sally, and I can't go into town.

Well, there's this Creole slave over at Eakins.

Kind of healer.

I'll get George to fetch her with a pass.

Eakins? Plantation?

She's not a field hand, she's a house Negro.

Now, you better get outta here, too.

Rebs come in here all the time to get whiskey.

They sent me with a pass.

Yeah, yeah. Right this way.

He's burning up. Can you help?

I'll try.

I need to boil some water, to make a tea.

I'll fetch you a bucket.

I can fetch it.

No, you stay here. I'll fetch it for you.

All right.

He's all cool now. Probably gonna sleep a while.

He better? He's fine.

That's my boy. That's my boy.

There you are.


Thank you.

Don't have to thank me. I got loaned to you.

No, I do. I do.

Look here, I ain't got no money, but I want you to have this, all right?

That's gold.

I can't take that. Yes, you can.

Saving a life ain't easy, yeah?

And when you do, it's something special.

Thank you.

Thank you, that's kind.

Here, here's your pass.

All rise. Court is now in session.

"Case number 0646.

"The State of Mississippi versus Davis Knight.

"That Davis Knight did knowingly

"and willfully and feloniously

"violate Mississippi law

"by engaging in a marital union with one Junie Lee Spradley, "a white woman.

"That as the great-grandson of Newton Knight

"and a Negro slave known commonly as Rachel, "he is of at least 1/8th Negro blood, "and as such, meets the minimum standard

"to be considered a colored person

"in the State of Mississippi."

What happened?

They told me to gather up all the clothes and blankets.

They'd be back for them in an hour.

They told me to round up all the hogs I got and put 'em in a pen.

Who did?

The cavalry officer and the...

Tax agent?


They gonna take my hogs?

No. No, they ain't.

'Cause we got nothing for the winter.

They ain't gonna take your hogs.

Girls, you know how to shoot one of these?

It ain't real hard, all right? It's just loud the first time.

Come here to me, darlin'.

Here we go.

Put this right here on your right hand, hold it right there with your right hand.

There you go, you feel that?

Feel that?

Okay, how many guns you got in the house, ma'am?

Two. Three with a pistol.

Good, good.

See, now here's the trigger.

You wanna fire it, you just pull this back.

Two clicks, pull that trigger. Boom.

All right, here they come.

You ready?



Well, what do we have here?


Beg your pardon?

I said, stop walking.

That's quite an army you got there.

Three little girls with guns.

It's more like eight.

How come you ain't up north fighting?

How come you ain't?

'Cause I'm responsible for clothing and feeding our loyal troops.

And tracking down deserters.

No, don't do that.

They gonna shoot me?

All's they gotta do is go like that.

Last time I checked, the gun don't care who's pulling the trigger.

We'll be back.

Hold steady on him, girls.

Lower your guns.

There we go. There we go. Good job, girls. Good job.

All right.

Listen, y'all are gonna be fine, all right?

It's me they're gonna be after.

It's me they're gonna be after.

They've got a slave patrol, Newt.

Those are nigger dogs.

It was three little girls, you hear? Alone.

Who ain't alone? You think I ain't alone?

Why you always got to fight everyone else's fight for them?

I can't do this anymore, Newt. I can't.

Buck shot, fresh powder horn.

Go! Go get him!

Can't stay here.

First place they're gonna come.

I'll get George to take you out in the swamp.

There's some folks out there that can help.


I dropped my gun and powder.

Sounds like you had a good time.



He's gonna need some food.

Got it right here.

You know what to do?

Mister Newt, sir?

Whenever you're ready.

To the swamp?

Yes, sir.

Take your time.

Mr. Newt!

Sorry. Look here.

Here, sit here.

You'll like this better.

They'll be here for you soon.


They will be here for you soon.


I know you.

I'm here to show you through.

Come on.

You all right to walk? Yeah, just slow.

All right, now walk where I walk.

Out there is deep, through here is shallow.

Careful now.

You got it. It's all right.

They gonna fix you.

They runaways?

Ain't you?

Chewed up pretty bad.

A hound got him.

Got some fresh plantain.

Mr. Newt?

Let me see that there.

It ain't that bad.

You must be pretty brave then.

Y'all must taste like we do, the way he latched onto you.

Just hold still now, you'll be all right.

Thank you, baby.

Mr. Whittington, in your opinion, Serena Knight was no longer a resident of Jones County, Mississippi, by what date?

Well, roughly, the end of 1863, early 1864, when she moved to Georgia.

Then, if Newton Knight had a child after the war, a child to whom he gave his name, that child could not have been...

Objection, Your Honor.

The witness is a census expert, not an expert on genealogy or paternity or...

Well, Your Honor, you don't have to be an expert on much of nothing to know it's hard for two people to make a baby when they're 1,000 miles apart.

How you feeling?


Still a little sore, but better.

Yeah, well, you'll be sore for a little while.

What's your name?

Call me Moses.

Your mama name you that?

No, sir. I picked that for myself.

Hey, you chose a good one.

Why do y'all do that?

Light it in the tree like that.

Hide the smoke so it don't go up in a straight line.

Oh, yeah, they're always looking.

We expensive.

How come they hounding you?

'Cause I left.


How come?

It ain't my fight, you know?

Don't own no slaves.

Ain't gonna die so they can get rich selling cotton.

That's why we left, too.

"Man, can, pan, fan, ran."

Very good, girls.

"Mat, hat, sat, cat, rat."

Now read this line again.

"Mat, hat, sat, cat, rat."

What are you doing?

I was just...

Don't go.

Thank you.

Ain't they got a chicken coop?

Y'all ought to be grateful. I can take back that molasses.

He didn't mean it.

Molasses? I thought this was whiskey.

Don't you get dizzy?

Lying like that?

Don't it make you dizzy?


It don't bother me now.

I guess you can get used to anything.

No, you can't.

Where's Texas?

Texas. How far is that?


Well, it's pretty far.

Why? What's in Texas?

My wife and my little boy.

When they... When they sold 'em, I just... I just ran.

I didn't think or nothing. I just... Just took off.

And they caught me and whipped me, I just ran all over again.

Then they put this on me.

Don't make no difference though.

They can hitch me to a wagon and I'll pull that damn thing all the way to Texas.

All right, look here, I was a blacksmith. I was. I shoed horses.

Forged all kinda stuff, yokes, bits, ax blades.

I pounded a lot of metal in my life.

If you want, I can get that thing off you.

No, you can't do that.

All that bangin' will bring the hounds for sure.

How many hounds?

And the men that go along with them.

How many men?

You ready?

I'm ready.

You ready?

I'm ready.

Oh, yeah.

All right, everybody in half cock?



Now you ain't gonna have a chance to reload, so make your shot count.

All right, here they come. Go to full cock.

Wait for my word.

Come on!

Come on.

Come on.


You know what this tastes like?



What's with them?

Just, nobody done nothing like that for them before.

What's that say?

Right there, what's that say?

It says "Remington Company, Ilion, New York."





Left hand here, okay. You feel it?

Put your left leg out, get braced for it.

All right, sit right in there, you're gonna look right down this barrel.

You see that little beebee on the end?


Whatever's at the end of this beebee, that's what you're aiming at. That's what you're gonna hit.

All right? All right.

You're locked and loaded.

Whenever you're ready, get him.

Did you get him?

Get him again.

Jasper, it's all right. Come on out now.

You ain't the only one.


Raise your hand.

That stuff don't belong to you.

Unhitch that wagon and head off down the road.

Who are you?

"The Free Men of Jones County"?

That's what he said.

Well, I'm not gonna concern myself with five or six deserters hidin' out in the swamp who don't have the courage to show their face.

Sir... You've got a quota to meet.

You're dismissed.

What do you say, Sumrall?

Well, there will be no more dry firing for you.

That will do the job. Well, thanks.

That's good, son.

Are you Newton Knight?

Every day.

Where are you from, boy?


And where were you?

Battle of Corinth.

Me, too.

My brother said you made him a private.

Did I?

Can I be a private, too?

I don't know.

Is he older or younger than you?

He's younger. He's only 13.

I'll tell you what, you can be a corporal.

That's better than a private.


At ease, Corporal.

Brought you somethin'.

You got one.


"Fi... Figt"?

Fight. "Fight."

Fight. "Fight."

Fight. Sounds like a F-Y-T-E. Fight.

Fight. Fight. Fight.

But you got a "G" right there.

But it's a silent "G" again.

The "G-H" is always like silent, like here, "Light, right." "Light, right."

"All right, slight."

"""All right, slight."

But it's a "G-H" and it's silent when you use the "H."

What a man grows with his own two hands oughta belong to him, yeah?

Yes, sir.

How's that scripture go, Jasper?

This here's from the Book of Galatians.

"Be not deceived.

"God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, "that shall he also reap."

What you sow, you should reap.

What you put in the ground, you should take outta the ground.

Yeah. And they say they takin' 10%.

No, they leave us 10%, sir.

Leave 10%.

You think they takin' 10% from that plantation owner over in Natchez?

No, sir!

You think they're takin' 10% from him?

No way.

How 'bout this?

What you say we go out there and we pick it clean?

There's 100 of us here.

We could pick it clean all in one day.

Can we do that? Yeah!

Now, we pick it clean. We hide it away, we divide it amongst ourselves later on.

Meanwhile, by the time they get down here, we done scattered.


How's that sound to you? Yeah!

Whose corn is it? I mean, whose corn is it?

It's our corn! Whose corn is it?

Sounds like perfect charity to me.

Let's do it! Yeah.

Find a red cob, get a shot o' corn whiskey!

Where is your corn?


Your corn! Where's your corn?

Field's picked clean.

Oh, yeah. We picked it.

So where is it?

Good mornin'!

Step on down, Lieutenant.

Hold on, all right? Just hold on.

Hey, I know you.

Yeah, you the one who stole our corn and our mule.


There it is. You like that sound?

It's just some corn.


You'd kill a man for some corn?

Well, he's askin' if I'd kill a man for some corn.

I don't know.

See, Lieutenant, you steal our corn, we got nothin' to feed the hogs.

If we can't feed the hogs, we got nothin' to put in the smokehouse.

We got nothin' to put in the smokehouse, we starve in the winter.

That's murder, ain't it?

You know what the penalty for murder is, don't you, Lieutenant?


Yes, sir.

Yeah, you do.

Thomas. Yes, sir.

Come here.

What rank I make you?

Corporal, sir.

You're a lieutenant now.

Let's get that coat off.

Help him out, Thomas. Yeah!

200 men.

Maybe 100. It's hard to say.

They made us lie facedown in the dirt till they left.

What is that?

Give it here.

Newt, you sure this is a good idea?

That's a lot of smoke.


Cavalry can't get into those swamps, and if we go in on foot, we'll get ambushed.

So you're scared of 'em?

Only in there.

Why, hell, I'll stomp it out with you.

Get a box up here.

Come on, throw a box up on here.

Put those stakes right down here, boys.

Right here, right here. There we go!

Get you a handkerchief.

I got plenty for everybody, now.

That fat, now that's where all the flavor is, right there in that fat.

Who wants that?

Look right here.

It's fallin' right off the bone.

You don't even need those knives.

What you doin', nigger?

That ain't for you. Put it back.

Put it back, nigger!

How you ain't?


I said, how you ain't?

How I ain't what?

What he says, Ward,

is how you ain't a nigger?

I mean, they just pick cotton for 'em.


You was willin' to get killed for 'em.

For Lord's sake, play somethin', will ya, Lucas, before a whole new war breaks out here?


You Sally?

I am.

You're a businesswoman.

When was the last time you saw any real whiskey?

Irish whiskey?

This is from Boston.

We can run anything through that blockade, but the whiskey always seems to get here first.

I suppose the only neutral parties in any war are the people makin' money from it.

Just want to give you the opportunity to make a little more.

We need to get a message to him.


Stop, I don't have the patience for that.

Tell your Unionist friend that if he will disband this little, little, Army.

Company o' theirs, we will rescind the hangin' notice and grant him full pardon.

All he has to do is come out of that swamp.

He can go right back in the army.

Two barrels of molasses, 100 pounds of wheat flour, three barrels of whiskey, and $500.

Is that Yankee currency?


I'll see what I can do.

Take that back to her.

Yeah, why would you trust someone who just burned your farm, son?

I'm not sayin' I trust 'em.

I'm just sayin'...

That you want it to stop?

Yeah, so do I.

Thomas, I don't think that turnin' ourselves in is gonna stop 'em.

I know you lost your farm, and I know your mama's hurtin', all right?

But that does not make these men your friends.

We're your friends, right here.

Look out there.

That's your friends.

Evening, Jesse.


I brought you some biscuits.

Smell fresh.

They is.

Thank you.

I better go.

What's wrong?

What's wrong?

What happened?

What happened?

I wouldn't let him.

All the other times I just let him.

'Cause what can I do?

It's just easier.

I tell myself I'm somewhere else an' it's not like it's happenin' to me.

But this time I couldn't.

I couldn't anymore.

And I screamed and I screamed.

Look, look, look.

I can read this now.

"In the beginning, "God created the heaven

"and the Earth.

"And God said, 'Let there be light.""

All right. Look here.

There's a full troop transport headed this way outta Meridian.

It's got 50 soldiers.

It's 15 cars long.

We gonna blow the tracks with powder, y'hear?

It's a train?

Yeah, it's a train.

With guns, ammo, and artillery.

What's that got to do with my farm?

It has everything to do with your farm, Ward.


'Cause they are the folks that burned it.

So we fightin' for the Union now?

No, we're not fightin' for the Union, but we are fightin' the same people they are.

Yeah, for different reasons.

But these folks got plantations from here to the Mississippi.

I know, they're rich. So what?

Are we gonna start killin' rich people?

It's why they're rich, Ward. Don't ya understand?

You, me, all of us...

We're all out there dyin' so they can stay rich.

You own any slaves, Ward?

You got any Negroes to fight for?

No, but it sure looks like you do.

That's fine, Ward.

You leave any time you want.

Save your farms.

All you got to do is lay down your arms.

You ain't bein' disloyal.

You're just bein' smart.

Your mama don't need you dead.

She's done lost her farm.

She don't need to lose her boys, too.

You're sure he said all of 'em?

He just said they wanted to come out, sir.

Didn't say how many.

They're comin' out.

They're comin' out.

Is that him?

Can't tell.

How many are there?

Hard to say.

Four or five maybe.

Sweet Jesus! It's boys!

Forty soldiers capture a bunch o' boys with broken shotguns.

Just hang 'em.

These boys...

These young men...

They was your friends, your cousins,

your brothers and your kin.

But to those soldiers who didn't know 'em,

they was just niggers.

They was just somebody else's nigger.

So somehow, some way or sometime, everybody is just somebody else's nigger.

Mr. Moses, are you a nigger?

No, I'm not.

What are you?

A free man, Captain.

Well, why's that?

'Cause you cannot own a child of God.

No, you cannot, can you?

You can own a horse, you can own a mule or cow or an ox, but you...

You cannot own a child of God.

See anythin'?


He won't miss this though.

He's out there. Somewhere.

Tell 'em to move up!

Make them boys lead 'em to the left flank!

Damn it!

Newton, I...

I knew your daddy.

Let's go.

Get up here up front! Reload! We need more powder.


Keep punchin', boys!


Up here, up here.

Cover the cannon.

Fire! Powder!


Move, move!

Cover fire!


Go, go, go!

Ho, ho!

Hands up!


There we go.

Quickly, children!

Hurry, Samantha!


How many?

In this group there's 40.

Got another 20 at Kerman's farm.

Only 12 of us at that railhead at Paulding.

Oh, that's light.

Could send Jeb and his brother.

Yeah, let's do that.

All right, hold on.

All right, all right.

Here you go.

How long would it take you to get there?

Three, four days if there's no patrols.

All right.

Tell Sherman that we hold everything from Pascagoula to the Alabama border.

Tell him we need some artillery, 20 pieces, 15 cannons, five mortars would be fine.

Rifles. Rifles we need. Make it 300.

We also need some cavalrymen. Fifty. Fifty men, that's all.

He can spare that easily.

Yeah, he can spare that easily.

He sends this, we can keep this place forever.


It's okay. It's okay.

They control everything from Meridian to the Pascagoula.

They've seized Ellisville, hold all of Jones, Jasper, Perry, and half of Smith counties.

They've got 250 men, maybe even runaway slaves who, frankly, sir, don't have much to lose.

That's all they sent?

You told 'em we took three counties?

Of course.

Hundred rifles.

They say it's not strategic.

Sherman wonders if we're a real company.

"Real company"?

You know, it ain't exactly what they're used to, Newt.

A bunch of freed slaves, farmers...

Holdin' down most o' southeast Mississippi.


Took three counties. We beat an entire division.

We did.

They don't care.

That's fine. We're back in the swamp.

They can't get their horses in there no matter how many they bring.

Take the boys back in. We'll wait until...

Some o' the boys don't wanna go, Newt.

With that much cavalry comin' down here, they're just not gonna have any farms left to protect.

There's plenty left to fight for, Will.

Sure there is.

There sure is, but they can get down to Mobile from here.

They can get outta here before Lowry shows up.

And that's what they want?

They want your permission.

And what do you want, Will?

I want to stay here and fight.


But they're boys, Newt, lots of 'em.

Might as well be.

They need somebody to get 'em through.

So you want my permission, too.

I guess I do. Yeah.

Take this. Pretty lucky.

No, that's your best gun.

I know.

I don't want you to stop fightin'.

All right. Everybody, listen up here.

Look, I know y'all been wonderin' what it is we gonna do next.

I want y'all to know that y'all fought bravely.

That flag right there tells the tale.

Right now what we do know is that they're sendin' a whole regiment of cavalry this way.

That's 100 horses.

We can't fight that, at least not in the open anyhow.

And we was hopin' to get some help from General Sherman, but it looks like that ain't comin' either.

He says he won't recognize us.

So it seems that we don't got no country on either side.

And that's all right.

I guess we're kind of our own country. That's right.

And if we're honest about it, hadn't we been our own country for a long time?

Yes, sir. Yeah.

Now, Jasper here, he's obviously a lot more learned than I am.

He was sayin' that, if in fact we are our own country, well then, by God, we oughta stand up and declare it.

Yeah. That's right.

Even if they push us back in the swamps, if we're willin' to die for somethin', we sure as the devil oughta be able to say what it is out loud.

Yes. Yeah.

That's true.

Jasper, let me see that paper there.

From this day forward, we declare the land north of the Pascagoula swamps, south of Enterprise and east of the Pearl River to the Alabama border to be a "Free State of Jones."

Yeah. Right!

And as such we do hereby proclaim and affirm the following principles.

Number one, no man oughta stay poor so another man can get rich.

Right. Yeah.

Number two, no man oughta tell another man what he's gotta live for or what he's gotta die for.


Number three, what you put in the ground is yours to tend and harvest, and there ain't no man oughta be able to take that away from you.

Yeah, that's right. Yeah.

Number four...

...every man's a man.

If you can walk on two legs, you're a man.

Right. Yeah.

It's as simple as that.


But we won. I know.

And they said... General Sherman, he said...

I know what they said.

He said 40 acres and a mule for every freed man and they families.

They took that back.

Who did? The President did.

There's a new President now named Johnson.


So who gets all o' this?

He does.


Eakins? Eakins? He gets to come back?

Yeah, if he takes an oath.

What kind of oath?

Swearin' to be loyal to the Union.

He ain't no Union man.


Hell, I can take an oath swearin' to be a canary. That don't mean I can fly.

That's it.

So I don't understand. Are we free or we ain't free?

You understand.

We free and we ain't free.

Place your left hand on the Bible and raise your right.

"I, James Eakins..."

I, James Eakins...

" solemnly swear in the presence of Almighty God..." solemnly swear in the presence of Almighty God...

"...that I will henceforth faithfully support, "protect, and defend

"the Constitution of the United States..."

...that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States...

"...and the union of the states thereunder."

...and the union of the states thereunder.

"So help me God."

So help me God.

Welcome back. Thank you.

I ain't leavin'.

We got to.

You got to leave, too.


'Cause the winds is shiftin'. Well, I don't care.

And you can't fight it this time.

Where we gonna go? Huh? Go where?

Soso. Soso?

You sell this place, we could buy all of Soso.

Yeah? And grow what, huh?

Can't get nothin' in that ground up there.

You grew crops in a swamp.


I think you can coax a little corn outta Soso.

How far? All the way through?

All the way.

"Man, can, pan, "ran, fan."

Very good.

The second row, C-O-B is...






I need some bailin' wire.

That's a cent a foot.

I'll take 60 feet.

Fixin' a fence?

Yeah. That's what bailin' wire's for.

You up in Soso, right?

Thought they was just a bunch o' niggers up there, Cap'n Newt.

No, Chester.

Ain't no niggers up there at all.

Got nowhere to go.

They said you was up here now, makin' a new farm.

Yeah, I am.

I'm sorry. I just don't know where to go.

Rebs burned my first farm. Sherman burned my second.

Guess they agree on that.

Yeah, they do.

We walked all the way from Birmingham.

He's seen things nobody should see.

You stay here. Yeah.

I know y'all have your own home now.

No. That's fine. You stay here with us.

There's a little shack on the other side of the farm.

We could fix it for you.

Y'all don't have to do that.

No, we do. You're kin.


What you say I teach ya how to fish?


You know I'm your Pa?

Yeah, I know.

Here. Got somethin' for ya.

Look at that. That's yours now, all right?

Take good care o' that.

Oh, let's not start cryin' now, huh?

Ain't that bad of a house.

So come on inside. Come on.

The prosecution would lead you to believe that when Serena Knight left Jones County in the middle of the war, she never came back.

Their entire case hinges on the idea that if Newt Knight had a second child after the war, that child had to be with Rachel Knight.

But there's a problem with that, ladies and gentlemen, because as these census records clearly indicate,

Serena Knight came home to Soso in 1865.

Two women livin' on one farm at the same time.

Now normally, in a court of law, we have trouble provin' who the father is, but in this strange, strange case, we have trouble provin' the mother.

Time has a way of changin' things.

Mr. Newt!

Mr. Newt!

Mr. Newt!

Hey, hey! What? What? He gone! He gone. He gone down there!


He got a gun! Who?


They took him. They took our boy.

Who did? Bunch of men from Eakins.

First thing this mornin'.

So he got a gun.


Stay back now!

Moses, stop, stop, y'hear? You gonna get killed.

It ain't you. It ain't your fight.

I'm goin' with you.

You his daddy now?

Sir. Huh?

I'm his daddy. It's my boy. It's your boy.

I'm goin' with you, Moses.

This is all the help I need right here.

I'm goin' with you.

They'll arrest me.

They'll kill you.

Can't nobody own my boy now!

Yes, sir, it's your boy.

I'm tired! Yes, sir.

Let's go get him. You and me. Come on now.

That's what we're gonna do.

That's my boy.

They'll arrest me. They'll kill you.

Isaac, don't worry, it's me. Your Uncle Newt.

Let's see. I'm gonna take you outta here, boy.

Right now?

Yeah, right now.

Come on.

Here we go.

Hold it!

Where you goin' with that boy?

I'm takin' him home.

We have papers on that boy.


"That the defendant, Newton Knight, "did on November 14th, 1865, "intervene and interfere in the lawful apprenticeship

"of a Negro child in violation of Mississippi law."

A what? Apprenticeship?

What is a lawful apprenticeship, Lieutenant?

To quote the statute on apprenticeship...

"If any apprentice shall leave the employment

"of his or her master without consent, "said master may pursue and recapture the apprentice

"and bring him before any justice of the peace

"whose duty it shall be to remand said apprentice

"to the service of his or her masters."

You done yet?

You, sir, are out of order.

No, I'm not out of order, Lieutenant.

I understand this quite clearly.

Y'all get your land back, then you go and work up some fancy law just last week that gets this boy back in the fields pickin' cotton for ya, huh?

Mr. Knight, you're gonna get your chance to talk.

No, I'm gonna settle this right here and now.

How much, huh?

How much? You buyin' and sellin' people.

How much, Mr. Eakins?

How much for me to buy back this here lawful apprenticeship, huh?

Here's $70. That do it?

Fair enough.

Fair enough.

Here, let's go. Let's go.

No more auction block for me.

No more, no more.

No more driver's lash for me.

No more, no more.

No more pound of salt for me. No more, no more.

No more auction block for me.

No more, no more.

Union League! Union League!

Union League! Union League!

Union League! Union League!

The meeting of the Soso and Jones County Union League will officially come to order.

Here it is. Right here.

Congress just passed an Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Article 15, Section 1.

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote

"shall not be denied or breached

"by the United States or by any state

"on account of race, color, "or previous condition of servitude."

That means when we was all slaves.

We got the right to vote now.

Yeah. All right.

Congress done passed the law.

Yeah, it's a black church, Jasper, but it's a Union church as well, and they fought side-by-side us and our boys got as much to lose in this than anyone.

I know.

Well, then get them to come to one meetin'.

Get them to come to one Union League meetin'.

They gonna see that the fight ain't over.

They ain't gonna come, Newt. They just ain't.

Their war is over.

It's over.

You know better than that.

God bless you, Newt.

You are the most stubborn man I ever met in my life.

It ain't just for us, all right?

It is for everybody.

Black, white, rich, poor.

It's for our oppressors who don't even know what's good for 'em yet.

It's for everybody who came before us who couldn't even read this ballot.

It's for our children, who, Lord willin', won't have to shed blood for it like we have.

And it's for their children, and their children's children.

Push! Push!

One mo' good push.

I see it comin'. One mo'.

There it is, oh, your baby!

I got your baby!

Look at that nose.

Does he look black or white to you?

I don't know.

Neither, I guess.

You just a brand-new thing, ain't ya?

Yes, you is.

Your Honor, a new piece of evidence has come to our attention that we would like to introduce as People's Exhibit 7.

Objection, Your Honor.

We weren't noticed on this piece of evidence.

Well, I wasn't exactly noticed on his census report either.

What exactly is this new piece of evidence, counselor?

The Knight family Bible in Newt Knight's own hand.

How much y'all need?

A lot more than this.

This spindle.


I'll take him.

There, darlin', it's all right.

It's okay, baby. It's okay.

It's okay.

Look at that. You got him to stop.

Well, men just want to be listened to, right?

Especially these men.

Gettin' chilly.

It is.


You ain't got to fill it out now.

I'll fill it out for you.

You gonna register. You get to vote.

You get to vote in public and you get to vote for black folks.

Vote for black folks?

Yes, sir, black judges. Maybe even a black sheriff.

I don't know.

That sounds like heaven, and I ain't ready to die yet.

All right. I'm gonna need your whole name.

Edward James. Edward...

Edward James. Yes, sir.

You know how old you are? No, sir.

Thirty? 1835 maybe.

That's what we gonna say.

All right.

Don't forget now 'cause they might ask you some questions.

What's your name?

Thomas Watson. Thomas.

Samuel Weaton.

That's a good name. Strong name.

Joseph Thomas. Joseph Thomas.

We gonna change some things. All right?

We just got to believe.

Do you know where you was born?


Okay. How old are you?

Do you know your age?


Thirty years old. What's your last name?

Davis. Davis.

Now what about your... What about your father?

What's your mama's name? Meryl.

All right.


Where you goin', boy?

Hold up there!

I am talking to you, boy.

Say, hey, boy!

I'm talkin' to you, nigger.




Lord, today we bring you our brother to take into your lovin' arms.

To hold and shelter and bless with life everlasting.

Lord, if it's the good that you seek in men, then you ain't never gonna find no better than Mr. Moses Washington.

A man who had so many reasons to be full of hate, yet he never was.

And that, Lord, is one of your greatest miracles.

So let us not weep.

Let us not shed a tear here today

'cause since the day I knew him, all he ever wanted to do was get free.

Now he is.

Moses deserved a better world than this.

Right now, he's got one.

I guess that's it.

It ain't but noon. Others could show up.

No, they're scared, Jasper. Scared's a powerful thing.

Don't seem too American for an election to be over before it starts, does it?


Well, we got 22 registered Republicans here.

We're damn sure gonna vote.


Election Day, ain't it?

Sure is.

His truth is marching on John Brown's body lies A-moldering in the grave John Brown's body lies A-moldering in the grave John Brown's body lies A-moldering in the grave His truth is marching on He's gone to be a soldier In the Army of the Lord He's gone to be a soldier In the Army of the Lord He's gone to be a soldier In the Army of the Lord His truth is marching on

We'd like Republican tickets.

We ain't got those yet.

Just the Democrat tickets.

We'll wait.

Might be a pretty long wait.

Let me explain somethin' to ya.

These men are here to vote.

They mind dying a whole lot less than you do.

I'll see if I can find any.

Get him up!

It ain't just for you to decide.

That child has a choice. I didn't have no choice.

What kind of life do you think is gonna be better for him?

Yeah, that ain't the point.

I don't want my boy to get lynched.

Or beat.

I want him to go to a school.

I don't want him to drop his eyes every time a white man walk by.

I don't want him to be a "boy" no more once he turn into a man.

Don't you want that, too?

Of course I do.

We got to go up North.

It ain't your fault we lost that war.

I know you tried to win it all by yourself.

This is our home. It's our home.

We would like to offer you a proposal, Mr. Knight.

This book is pretty conclusive evidence.

In fact, in all my years of prosecuting, I never seen a more damning piece of evidence.

Now, Mr. Knight, I don't believe you really knew which side of the family you were on.

What's your offer?

We have no desire to send your client to jail, Mr. Oaks, but we can't tolerate this kind of example, either.

So if he will get this marriage annulled, leave the state of Mississippi, then we'll agree to drop all charges against him.

You mean, I end my marriage?

In case you haven't been here for the past three weeks, Mr. Knight, your marriage is neither a lawful nor a proper union.

"Proper union"?


I was married in this courthouse.

I was married in this courthouse!

But where we gonna go? We can't get married anywhere else.

Up North, I guess.

We don't know anybody up North.

I understand your client wishes to change his plea, counselor.

Yes, he does, Your Honor.

Is this true, Mr. Knight?

No, it's not, Your Honor.

Mr. Oaks... If I could just...

Your Honor, I'm not changin' my plea

'cause I'm not guilty of anything.

Young man, I don't appreciate these games, and I am tempted to rescind your bail right now.

Your Honor...

You can rescind anything you want, but I'm not changin' my plea.


Bailiff will take the defendant into custody.

Bail is hereby rescinded.

Your Honor...

You missed your chance, Mr. Oaks.

I love you, honey. I love you, too.

I love you, honey.

I love you, too.