By Logan R. Moorhead
The following 38 Civil War letters were written by brothers Robert Alexander Lowry and William Gustin Lowry from August 2, 1861, to June 19, 1863. These letters are part of Manuscript Group 130: Logan Moorhead Collection.
The Lowry brothers enlisted in the 62nd Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, and both were killed during the Civil War. Their parents were Rhoda Stone Lowry (1806-1895) and Robert Lowry. The Rhoda Stone Lowry Civil War Diary has entries from May 16, 1863, to June 17, 1864.
Robert Alexander Lowry (1838-1862) and William Gustin Lowry (1836-1863) were brothers and the great-great uncles of Logan R. Moorhead, the writer. Robert Alexander Lowry and William Gustin Lowry were the brothers of Logan Moorhead’s great grandmother, Margaret Judson Lowry Logan. Robert Alexander Lowry, William Gustin Lowry, and Margaret Judson Lowry were the children of Robert and Rhoda Stone Lowry of Freeport, Pennsylvania.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Lowry brothers were living in Curllsville, Pennsylvania in Clarion County, and they enlisted for three year hitches in C Company of the 62nd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers on July 4, 1861. William Gustin Lowry (Gus) was the company’s Second Lieutenant. and Robert Alexander Lowry (Gan) was a private. On July 25, 1861, this regiment was mustered into the U.S. Union Army at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and moved immediately to Camp Cameron, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for a few weeks of camp life, and then on to Baltimore, Maryland, and then to Washington, D.C.
In September 1861, the 62nd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers crossed the Potomac River and was assigned to the Second Brigade of General Porter’s Division. Then, the Second Brigade moved to Minor’s Hill and went into winter quarters in Camp Betty Black. William Gustin Lowry was promoted to First Lieutenant on November 12, 1861. It was here that the younger of the two, Robert Alexander Lowry, a corporal and bugler, accidentally shot and killed himself with his brother’s revolver on February 1, 1862, at the age of 23. Robert Alexander Lowry was born on June 30, 1838, according to his mother’s diary. The regiment was mainly engaged in drill and training and saw no action before leaving by transport in March 1862 for the Peninsula, where it encamped at Fortress Monroe, near Hampton, Virginia. On April 3, 1862, the 62nd Regiment moved with the army upon Yorktown, where it experienced its first encounter with Confederate troops uniformed in gray. Skirmishing ensued, and the 62nd Regiment marched forward and took its place in the line of battle under fire. The enemy was soon obliged to evacuate and the loss to the 62nd Regiment was one killed and three wounded, none in C Company.
From this time on, until the end of the war, C Company 62nd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers served in the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Corps. The regiment was engaged in all the major battles of the Army of the Potomac, including Seven Days, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg. William Gustin Lowry was engaged in all his regiment’s battles up through Gettysburg, where he was killed in action on July 2, 1863, in the woods between the west corner of the Wheatfield (now called the "Loop") and the Rose Farm. He fell, instantly killed, very shortly after his brigade (Sweitzer’s 2nd Brigade, Barne’s 1st Division, *Syke’s 5th Corps) entered the battle in support of General Sickle’s 3rd Corps, which was collapsing under the crushing attack of Confederate Generals Hood and McLaw on the Union army’s extreme left flank. He was probably killed by men of Kershaw’s Brigade of McLaw’s Division. He had been promoted to Major on September 10, 1862, just prior to Antietam, and had married on February 12, 1863. A fine tribute is paid him in the address of Captain W.J. Patterson at the Dedication of the 62nd Regiment Infantry at Gettysburg Monument on September 11, 1889: "In his death, the service lost as brave a soldier and as faithful an officer as any that fell that day in defense of this country." He was born January 27, 1836, according to the cemetery marker in Freeport, Pennsylvania.
For a complete account of C Company, 62nd Regiment, see U.S. Army, Regimental History, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers.
William Gustin Lowry (Gus) was buried in the Gettysburg National Cemetery, even though there are two tombstones, one for Robert Alexander Lowry and one for Major William Gustin Lowry in the Freeport, Pennsylvania Cemetery Lot #38, Section B (see July 1989 photo on Page 6). It was determined that Major William Gustin Lowry's stone was only a commemorative marker, which was popular during the war, and it was placed in his memory. He is buried at the Gettysburg National Cemetery in Pennsylvania State Lot (18) Section B Grave No. 26 (see October 1990 photo on Page 6), and there is a bronze 62nd Infantry plaque on the wall at the base of the Pennsylvania Monument bearing his rank and name (see October 1990 photo on Page 6).
Robert Alexander Lowry (Gan) and his mother, Rhoda Stone Lowry, are buried in the Freeport, Pennsylvania cemetery in Armstrong County, Lot #38, Section B, Sites 1 and 2. **Rhoda Stone Lowry died July 19, 1895, at the age of 89 and was interred in this cemetery plot without a tombstone. Cemetery records indicate that Robert Alexander Lowry and his tombstone, and the commemorative marker for Major William Gustin Lowry were probably transferred from the old cemetery at the site of what is now Freeport Junior High School on Fourth Street since the present cemetery was not incorporated until 1864, and both Lowry brothers were killed prior to that year. Just when this plot was purchased by the Lowry family, when Robert Alexander Lowry, and the two stones were transferred to the present cemetery and under which stone Rhoda Stone Lowry is buried couldn’t be determined. Although Robert Alexander Lowry’s stone states that he is the son of Robert and Rhoda Lowry, no records could be found of the place of burial of Robert Lowry, who died in 1840 in Freeport, Pennsylvania.
* At Gettysburg the 5th Corps was officered as follows:
5th Corps, Sykes,
1st Division, Barnes. Brigades: 1. Tilton: 18th, 22nd Massachusetts, 1st Michigan, 188th Pennsylvania; 2. Sweitzer: 9th, 32nd Massachusetts, 4th Michigan, 62nd Pennsylvania; 3. Vincent, Rice: 20th Massachusetts, 16th Michigan, 44th New York, and 83rd Pennsylvania.
2nd Division, Ayers. Brigades: 1. Day: 3, 4, 6, 12, 14 US; 2. Burbank: 2, 7, 10, 11, 17 US; 3. Weed, Garrard: 140th, 146th New York, and 91st, 155th Pennsylvania.
3rd Division, Crawford. Brigades: 1. McCandless: 1st, 2nd, 6th, 13rd Pennsylvania Res; 3. Fisher: 5th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Pennsylvania Res.
Note: The 62nd Regiment lost heavily at Gettysburg in its battle at the Wheatfield during the afternoon of July 2, 1863. Of the 26 officers and 400 enlisted men entering the battle, 4 officers and 24 men were killed, 10 officers and 97 men wounded and 40 men taken prisoners, a loss ratio of 54 percent of the officers and 40 percent of the men.
** Rhoda Stone Lowry, the mother of these two Union soldiers and their sister, "Mag" (Margaret Judson Lowry Logan), kept a diary during the Civil War period. I now have that diary, and it tells of her receiving these letters and of her sons’ deaths. It also notes that her mother, Margaret Gustin Stone, died June 12, 1862, at age 77. See account and diary in separate binder prepared by Logan R. Moorhead in September 1988.
I trust this account and these letters will be preserved for the benefit and interest of future historians and my descendants.
Logan R. Moorhead, Richmond, Virginia.
The following 38 letters date from August 2, 1861 to June 19, 1863. Two letters were written by Robert Alexander Lowry (Gan/Ganny/R.A.), who died on February 1, 1862, and 36 letters were written by William Gustin Lowry (Gus/Gust/W.G.L.), who was killed during the Battle of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. Letters were written to their mother Rhoda Stone Lowry (1806-1895), sister Margaret Judson Lowry Logan (Mag), and to a friend Ben Huey.