Man Is Never Defeated Until He Gives Up

The word courage seems a little threadbare when applied to Captain Sloan for he had more than courage and more than gallantry. He possessed a formidable faith in life itself and an indestructible will to live or he would never have returned home.

Capt. John Newton Sloan, "a man who could not be defeated because he would not give up."

 Capt. John Newton Sloan, 45 Mississippi Infantry, CSA

John Newton Sloan was born in Pickens County, South Carolina, on February 8, 1829. As a young man he moved to Mississippi and settled in Wallerville, Pontotoc County (now a part of Union County). On December 15, 1853, he was married to Susan P. Coleman, a union that would produce four children and last for 44 years.

During the Civil War Sloan was severely wounded. His entire lower jaw was shot away in battle. He was left for dead until Sloan obtained energy enough to scribble, "I am alive" on a small piece of paper. A passing chaplain spotted his note and immediately summoned help. After the war, Sloan was outfitted with an artificial chin (see image below).


He entered public life and became Chancery Clerk, an office he held for 18 years. He became a member of Pontotoc Lodge No. 81, F&AM and was secretary of the order for many years. He was also a member of Shield's Royal Arch Chapter No. 18 where he was a member of the Council. In his late years, John was compelled to give up all active work due to "increased feebleness and declining health but a man of his energy and love for his family could not remain idle, so much of his time when physically able he spent in directing the cultivation of garden and orchard which was a pleasant and congenial occupation when he was a younger and stronger man."

John died "from a complication of diseases at his home Monday night at ten o'clock, December 13, 1897, after a lingering illness of many months." He was 68 years old. "The funeral was held at the home Wednesday morning, December 15, the forty-fourth anniversary of his marriage." The body was consigned to its last resting place with a Masonic ceremony. The life of John Newton Sloan is a beautiful example of man's indestructible will to live, to rise above obstacles that may be encountered, and rings true again the fact that man is never defeated until he gives up. We of this modern age have much to learn from the "never-give-up" spirit of the old Confederate soldiers.

Information for this article was made available from an old newspaper articles furnished by Compatriot Charles Coleman of Grove Hill, Alabama, a relative of Capt. Sloan and taken from the "Alabama Confederate", newsletter of the Alabama Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, edited by Perry Outlaw, vol. 14, number 1, January 1995 . Wartime image of Capt. Sloan sent to Scott Williams, thanks to Curtis Dean Burchfield of Pontotoc County, Mississippi who obtained the copy from Capt. Sloan's great grandson, Dr. Edwin Orr III.

Background music, "Old Folks At Home", used with permission, from ReWEP Associates, Copyrighted 1997.