Alabama, Free State of Winston

The Free State Of Winston – A Neutral Alabama County During The U.S. Civil War

Charles Christopher Sheats (1839 to 1904) was the Winston County representative at Alabama’s secession convention in 1861 during the lead-up to the Civil War. Sheats and many in Winston County opposed secession and declared the county neutral during the war.

Winston County, Alabama, which became known as the “Free State of Winston”, had few slave owners since the hilly lands in the county were not suitable for plantations. Hence, members of the county disagreed with the movement for secession from the Union and sent a young school teacher as a delegate to the Alabama secession delegation, whom threatened have Winston County established as it’s own republic, separate from the Confederacy, if the Alabama left the union. That delegate, along with his followers, were arrested for their opposition.

Photograph of Newton Knight.

Author’s Note:

In the bordering state of Mississippi, the “Free State of Jones” was established. Unlike, the neutral “Free State of Winston”, the independent area of Jones had a company of deserter soldiers, let by Newton Knight, that raided Confederate warehouses to give food and supplies back to the local people, whom had goods seized from their farms.