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Lee Drake's 25mm American Civil War Skirmish Game

The Free State of Jones

Captain Newt Knight along with his band of deserters from the Confederate Army have hidden out near their Jones county homes and have established the "Free State of Jones." Certainly they do not claim allegiance to the Confederacy but will try to win union sympathies with claims to join the Union Army whenever a band of recruiters comes through. Newt's band has to hide in the hills of Jones County Mississippi north of the town of EIlisville because most of the people of the county still show allegiance to the Confederacy, (even though the war is going so badly). If they come into populated areas, they never know if they will be attacked or turned over to the confederate troops always searching for deserters.

In our scenario, Captain Knight has recently promised the Union Army that his men would actively fight the confederates in the area to keep them occupied. Confederate general Kirby Smith and his "army" have been harassing Union shipping along the Mississippi River. The union higher-ups feel that if confederate reinforcements can be kept frozen in other places, this will lessen Kirby Smith's effectiveness. Because the thought of Newt’s deserters helping the union cause is appealing, union officials agreed to supply them with gunpowder.

A small force of federal soldiers has brought several kegs of gunpowder to a pre-arranged location in the community of Cracker's Neck. They plan on leaving it and evacuating the area before Captain Knight's men arrive so no one will suspect that they are dealing with the deserters. There are two homesteads in the area of the gun powder cache. One is composed of a rather wealthy man and his wife, (Mr. and Mrs. Collins) a young hired man staying there to help them out on the farm, and their daughter, Lilly. They have had three sons lost to the war effort for the South and this has left the family bitter. They have no problems switching their allegiances to whichever group is present in the area, a common occurrence in the South this late in the war. The family usually hangs a Northern or Southern flag up in their window depending on which is most beneficial.

The other home in the area is that of a much poorer family living near Big Creek. The head of his household, Elisa Welborne, is an older man who lost a leg at the battle of Elk Horn Tavern. His wife died of the consumption last year. He, his daughter and her husband help with the Collins family’s farm across the road. His daughter’s husband has avoided war because he had been attending Seminary. Confederate recruiters do not know that he was expelled under suspicion of killing another student, (nothing was never proven).

As the union soldiers prepared to leave the Cracker's Neck area after hiding the gun powder, a squad of cavalry rides up quickly to report a mass of Confederates coming into the area. As the union forces are concentrating at the crossroads, they probably have time to get out of the area safely but they do not want the Confederates to get the gunpowder. Thus, the union troops decide to openly reveal their deal with Captain Knight and stay and protect the gunpowder until he can retrieve it.

Captain Knight's boys will come down out of the hills to pick up the gunpowder. They have to be careful to cover their retreat so no one knows their hiding places. Even though they have told the Union they will use the gunpowder against the southern boys, there is much disagreement among the men. Their allegiance is to themselves and to neither the North nor the South. The allegiance of each band of Knight’s forces is not completely known. The main goal for Knight’s force is to get back into hiding in the hills with the gunpowder. If they can get back into the hills safely, they can slip any followers fairly easily because of their superior knowledge of the land. The Confederate Force has gotten word of the gun powder delivery and has come to find it. They hope to catch Newt Knight at the same time. Also, of course, they would like to kill any of the yankees in the area just for fun.



  1. Union Infantry is organizing near crossroads
  2. Cavalry Squad #1 comes up the road with message for the company commander (The Rebels are a'comin!)
  3. Cavalry Squad #2 is dismounted and visiting with the Collins Family and it seems that they are mainly interested in the Collins daughter, Lilly.


  1. Confederate infantry appears behind the corn field and the stables
  2. When the Union commander gets message from Cavalry Squad#1, he will send a messenger to the Cavalry Squad#2 at the Collins Homestead.


  1. Newt's men appear at the Ford of the Big Creek
  2. Confederate Cavalry appear up the road.


  1. Union forces feel that they have done their duty and now try to get off the board.
  2. If they are hard pressed, the game-master will allow the Union cannon to enter the board on the road, for fire support to cover the withdrawal.

A fuzzy shot showing the overall battlefield.

"The Hand" is setting up Union Infantry near the crossroads. The Wellbourne farmhouse is in the right center of the image. The bluish meandering sream going from mid-left to bottom right is Big Creek. It marks the edge of the swampy area bordering the hills where Newt Knight and his band of deserters lurk. In the upper right, a dark green rectangular area is the cornfield where many a poor boy met his maker!

The Wellbourne Farmhouse

Again, this is probably during the set-up phase.

The Collins Home - a bit fuzzy

Again, very early in the game, Union infantry milling about after having delivered the gunpowder and hidden in among bushes near the Collins Home. Note that the flagpole near the Collins house flys the Union Flag. Old man collins flew whatever flag he thought would bring him the most advantage. Keep your eye on that flag.

Union cavalry "They're Coming!"

Dimly seen, Union cavalry rides down the road from the left, shouting that Secessionist forces were right behind them. The Union Infantry which had been goofing off, now begins to form a line!

Union Cavalry high-tail it!

The surviving Union cavalry of the first platoon head for the high ground across Big Creek. Shocked by their casualties, they intend to "vote with their feet" and leave this slaughter by joining Newt Knight's band of deserters. Too bad boys! Knewt's boys take no chances, and shoot the survivion cavalrymen out of their saddles!

Grey-coated cavalry at the Gallop

Deserter cavalry blows past some more of Newt knight’s boys, on their way to recover the cached gunpowder.

Confederates & Union melee in center of table.

Confederate cavalry melees with Union Infantry while Newt’s boys gallop past the affair to try to reach the gunpowder. The blue-coated infantry pushed back the Confederates this time, but the deserter forces were fired on by the Confederate infantry near the Collins home and took refuge in the woods to the right of the photo.

Note the flag flying at the Collins house. Seems like old man Collins decided the South might win after all.

Confederate cavalry hides in woods!

After losing the melee around the crossroads, the Confederate cavalry hid out in the woods north-east of the crossroads. The woods itself was the site of an earlier melee with Northern infantry in which the Southern horsemen had triumphed.

The stables and fenced field in the background of this photo were the site of the first fighting of the game. Many a confederate boy was shot down in the stables which were thoroughly perforated by northern bullets. The Yankees along the road were then cleared by the threat of Rebel cavalry and took refuge in the woods, from which the cavalry evicted them! It goes on and on…

The Welborne house and deserters

The Wellbourne homestead with family members out front and a unit of Newt Knight’s deserters out front protecting the place from Confederate cavalry. The Rebel horsemen did make a stab at the place but were driven off by the deserters, assisted by some long range Union musketry.

The Collins house aflame!

In an attempt to smoke out (HA!!) union cavalrymen, Confederate infantry has set fire to the Collins house. After 5 turns the family fled and after 7 turns, the Union did depart by the back door, but their rapid fire carbines did great execution, destroying two units of confederate infantry.

Newt’s boys reach the gunpowder

This is a fuzzy image, but the view shows that the deserter cavalry units reaching the gunpowder. They are forced back before recovering the powder by Confederate fire. On the next turn they make another, (successful) attempt, but Newt himself is killed by long range Confederate musketry.

View down the road to the crossroads.

Close up in the foreground is one of Newt Knight’s raggedy units at the ford of Big Creek. In the background there are dead figures everywhere, but the Union infantry still hold the crossroads. The recall order was given after this, and the Union forces began to withdraw towards the right of the picture.

Jim Pitts looks over the Welbourne House

You can contact the firm which built this scenery at: ANDREW DOYLE'S 3-D CONTOUR TERRAIN - Andrew Doyle, 120 McPhail Road, Hattiesburg, MS 39401 (601-583-4321)

Union Center Holds!

The Union infantry in the center has just beaten off a Confederate cavalry attack. The figure at bottom left is one of Knewt Knight's boys.


Get the gun powder and get safely into the hills!


Absolute victory would be to kill or capture Newt Knight (THEY DID!). Also it would be good to kill as many union soldiers as possible. Also, they would like to capture the Union's gun powder.


Newt gets his gun powder and gets safely back into hiding in the hills, and the union force gets off of the board with at least half of their men (THEY DID!)

A fun game, enjoyed by all, but mostly by the Confederates, since they killed Newt Knight. Everyone felt that they won to some degree (except Newt of course!). The Deserters did get the gunpowder, although with Newt gone, there was no one who had any desire to cooperate with the Union forces.

The Union forces delivered the powder and got a few more than 1/2 the force off the table. They could congratulate themselves on shooting up a bunch of rebels.

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