“There was a good deal of confusion in men’s minds during the first months of the great trouble, a good deal of unsettledness, of leaning first this way then that, and then the other way. It was hard for us to get our bearings.” -Mark Twain
If you are of a certain age, you probably remember being herded en masse onto a grade school stage and forced to warble Fifty Nifty United States to beaming moms, dads and grandparents.
“Fifty, nifty, United States, from thirteen original colonies,” the song cheerfully began. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to it beyond rhyming “fifty” and “nifty.” It eventually meandered through a roll call of the “nifty” states in alphabetical order. Missing from that roster was the Kingdom of Calloway. And the Free State of Winston. And the Free State of Jones.
But each one briefly existed (more or less) during the turbulent time known as the Civil War. And it’s worth revisiting their short, strange stories to fully understand just how mixed-up that era was. Continue reading