American Civil War Folklore or Legend, the story of Confederate Scout John Noland

From ,written by Ann DeWitt:

Tombstone of Confederate Scout John Noland

In 1861, slaves in the border states of the 36-degrees-30-minutes latitude line must have wondered why President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was slated to only make provisions for slaves in the rebel states.  Missouri was a border state.  In August 1861 when Union General John C. Frémont issued a military order for the emancipation of slaves in Missouri, martial law was instituted.

Union General John C. Frémont military order stated:  “All persons who shall be taken with arms in their hands within these lines shall be tried by court-martial, and, if found guilty, will be shot. The property, real and personal, of all persons in the State of Missouri who shall take up arms against the United States, and who shall be directly proven to have taken active part with their enemies in the field, is declared to be confiscated to the public use; and their slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared free.”

This decree emotionally charged the pro-Union militia, dubbed the Jayhawkers, to take matters into their own hands.  The Jayhawkers targeted Missouri slaveholders.  If these slaveholders had weapons, they were shot and killed; and many of these Missouri citizen’s personal items were taken.

Now, turn to John Noland, a Missouri slave.   The Jayhawkers came and destroyed life as John Noland once knew it; however, the Jayhawkers did not have any plans of delivering John Noland’s slave family into the life in which John Noland dreamed.  Everything was gone, except the clothes on their backs.

Then, William Quantrill entered into the life of John Noland.  Quantrill was the leader of a pro-Confederate militia group dubbed the Bushwackers.  So, when Quantrill’s Raiders offered John Noland some semblance of equality as a militia Confederate scout and spy, John Noland accepted their offer.  The common law system as we know today did not exist; and John Noland was determined to go after the Jayhawkers, who took clothes, food, and shelter away from his family.  Even when the Union came and offered John Noland $10,000 to betray Quantrill, John Noland refused.  Can anyone put a price tag on family? Unto his death, John Noland gained the racial equality he desired.  The men in the Quantrill’s Raiders called John Noland, “a man among men.”

For more information about African Americans who served with the Confederate States Army, visit

This article is sponsored by The Street Life Series Youth Edition. Contact email:

Peel back the sticker and reveal the names of African-American men who served in various capacities with the Confederate States Army (Black Confederates) during the American Civil War.

Recommended Reading:

  • Quantrill of Missouri by Paul R. Petersen
  • Entangled In Freedom: A Civil War Story by Ann DeWitt and Kevin M. Weeks


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