All right, so nobody asked. Who cares? This is my page and I'll indulge myself in shameless self-promotion if I want!
Note: There is a ton of material in JonahWorld! - more than 29 MB of text and images. I have loaded all of the stuff I used in newsletters in the nearly eight years I was the editor of one or another. (The guys in my unit pretty much agreed that I had perfected the art form, I modestly say.) I also get information from other sources. You newsletter editors who are looking for filler, feel free to use any of it. Try looking here for some. All I ask is that you cite me as the author where I have indicated I am the author. If you want to also cite the JonahWorld! URL in your article, why, that would be nice, too. - Jonah
1. What's a "Jonah Begone?"
A "Jonah" is Civil War slang for a klutz. According to John D. Billings (in his essential book Hardtack and Coffee) the Jonah was an unfortunate, universally disliked fellow who would carelessly spill his food on others seated around the campfire, or knock the carefully-balanced coffee pot over into the coals. A complete explanation, with hilarious illustrations, can be viewed here.
2. Why are you anonymous?
It started out as a writer's thing. As well as writing articles for the Camp Chase Gazette, I was also editing my Civil War unit's newsletter. I wanted two different, clearly separated writers: me, and "Jonah Begone." With my own name attached to things I wrote, I had to have it represent me and had to be more responsible. With the Jonah moniker, I could be a feckless idiot. There is an unbelievable amount of freedom in a pen name...
I've been toying with dropping the pen name and just simply being more honest, but after nineteen years with the identity, I find I've become accustomed to it.
And yes, it must be admitted, there is an aspect of safety in the pen name as well. Professional Neo-Rebs can be scary individuals. Nowhere as scary as an army of real, armed Confederates who are gunning for you with real minie balls, of course, but not people I'd necessarily want to give my home address and phone number to, thank you. (Who wants to debate the constitutionality of secession at 3 am? Or listen to rhapsodizing about Nathan Bedford Forrest?)
3. How about a photograph without that bag on your head?
What do you think I am, nuts? I want to preserve my secrecy! Oh, very well. Here.
4. Why the anti-Southern stance?
If you read carefully, the stuff I write isn't anti-Southern. I happen to like the South. I've taken to every Carolinian, Tennessean and Georgian I've ever met immediately, in fact. But I'm a Union partisan. (You don't meet many of those in the reenacting culture, which tends to be pro-Reb.)
Having said that, however, I will go on record as supporting the right of people to fly Confederate flags (read my article about Huck Finn) and as being a supporter of the legitimate, constitutional version of "State's Rights," the Tenth Amendment. ("The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.") I also get annoyed with anti-Reb political correctness. For another article I wrote about that, read here. My attitude is that one should rebut and not censor ideas one disagrees with.
By the way, I have enormous respect for the Southern fighting man, 1861-1865. He can hold his own with the soldiers of any other country or time, and has left Americans a legacy of bravery and example. However, when some TBG claims "Lee surrendered, I didn't," my first thought is "Oh? You would have continued to fight after men hardened by four years of combat and privation gave in? Sure. Right. Go back to that bag of potato chips." Real Rebs fought themselves to exhaustion, give them their due.
5. Has Jonah a family?
6. Who is "Mal Stylo?"
Jonah's Pard. A writer and boon friend of enormous wit, capability and humor. One of the very best natural writers I know, in fact. I have been proud to edit some of his stuff for submission to the Camp Chase Gazette, and others have told me they've enjoyed reading his material.
The only thing better than reading a Mal Stylo article, however, is attending an event with him. He's so much fun that the ultimate compliment was once paid to us by a self-proclaimed "Member of General Lee's Staff": "Those two ought to leave th' Hobby!" - an insult I probably couldn't have garnered alone.
Some of Mal's tomfoolery can be found elsewhere, on his very own web page.
7. How often has Jonah been printed in the pages of the Camp Chase Gazette?
A lot. Over 35 articles since my first in October 1987. Enough to make enemies clear across the country! However, due to changes in the editorial policies and management of the CCG, I am no longer published there.
8. Oh come on! "Enemies?"
Well, one guy wrote me some hate mail once, essentially calling me out to the field of honor at an agreed-upon event. (Grant MacMeans, the former editor of the CCG, calls this sort of thing my "fan mail.") He was riled up about my sage comments concerning dismounted cavalrymen. Only stuff other people had been saying all along, really. I guess I had just been a bit more effective about it. If he really wanted to get mad, he should have read what Mal wrote on the subject!
9. Has Jonah Begone ever appeared in any theatrical releases or TV movies?
Not really. I was an unseen extra in the filming of the TV "Lincoln" mini-series with Mary Tyler Moore ("Awwwwwwww, Misterrr Grannnt...") once. A day of that convinced me that having my mug appear in a film was no compensation for all the silly nonsense the Hollywood types make us reenactors endure.
10. What's this business about Revy War?
Ah, yes. Call it the mature alternative to Civil War reenacting. (Well, as "mature" as people can get running around playing war and yelling "Hey, I got you!" and "No, you didn't!" on weekends.) You can read all about it in my Revy War article.