An Introduction by Logan R. Moorhead
38 U.S. Civil War Letters
(August 2, 1861 to June 19, 1863)
Note: Two letters by Robert Alexander Lowry (*Gan/Ganny/R.A.) and
36 letters by William Gustin Lowry (*Gus/Gust/W.G.L. Lowry).
*Names used in letters and Rhoda Stone Lowry Diary.
These two Lowrys were brothers and the Great, Great Uncles of Logan R. Moorhead, the writer, they being the brothers of my Great Grandmother, Margaret Judson Lowry, and these three being the children of my Great, Great Grandparents, Robert and Rhoda Stone Lowry of Freeport, Pa.
The letters are written to their mother (Rhoda Stone Lowry), and sister "Mag" (Margaret Judson Lowry), another sister and one to a friend (Ben Huey).
At the outbreak of the Civil War they were living in Curllsville, Pa. (Clarion County) and enlisted for three year hitches in "C" Company of the 62nd Regiment P.V. (Pennsylvania Volunteers) on July 4, 1861. Wm. G. Lowry (Gus) was the company’s 2nd Lieut. and Rob’t A. Lowry (Gan) a private. On July 25, 1861 this regiment was mustered into the U.S. Union Army at Pittsburgh, Pa., and moved immediately to Camp Cameron, near Harrisburg, Pa., for a few weeks of camp life, and then on to Baltimore, Md. , and thence to Washington, D.C. In September 1861 it crossed the Potomac, was assigned to the Second Brigade of General Porter’s Division and then moved to Minor’s Hill and went into winter quarters in Camp Betty Black. Gus was promoted to 1st Lieut. on November 12, 1861. It was here that the younger of the two, Gan a corporal and bugler, accidentally shot and killed himself with his brother’s revolver on February 1, 1862, at the age of 23. (He was born 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, Va. On April 3, 1862 the 62nd Reg’t. moved with the army upon Yorktown, where it experienced its first encounter with Confederate troops uniformed in gray. Skirmishing ensued, and the 62nd marched forward and took its place in line of battle under fire. The enemy was soon obliged to evacuate and the loss to the 62nd was but one killed and three wounded -- none in the "C" Co.
From this time on, until the end of the war, "C" Co. 62nd Reg’t P.V. served in the 2nd Brig., 1st Div., 5th Corps. The regiment was engaged in all the major battles of the Army of the Potomac, including Seven Days, 2nd Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg. Wm. G. Lowry (Gus) 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 September 10, 1862, just prior to Antietam, and had married February 12, 1863. A fine tribute is paid him in the address of Captain W.J. Patterson at the Dedication of Monument -- 62nd Regiment Infantry at Gettysburg 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 per Freeport, Pa. Cemetery marker.
For a complete account of "C" Company, 62nd Regiment see U.S. Army – Regimental History/62nd P.V.
Wm. G. Lowry (Gus) was, and still is, buried in the Gettysburg National Cemetery, even though there are two tombstones, one for Robert A. Lowry and one for Major Wm. Gustin Lowry, in the Freeport, Pa. Cemetery -- Lot #38, Section B (see July 1989 photo on Page 6). It was determined that Major Wm.’s stone was only a "Commemorative Marker" (popular during the war) and was placed in his memory. He is buried 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 A. Lowry (Gan) and his mother, Rhoda Stone Lowry, are buried in the Freeport, Pa. (Armstrong Co.) Cemetery -- 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 A. Lowry and his tombstone, and the "Commemorative Marker" for Major Wm. 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 were killed prior to that year. Just when this plot was purchased by a Lowry, when Robert A. and the two stones were transferred to the present cemetery and under which stone Rhoda Stone Lowry is buried couldn’t be determined. And, although Robert A.’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 -- only that he died in 1840 in Freeport, Pa.
* At Gettysburg the 5th Corps was officered as follows:
5th Corps, Sykes
1st Division, Barnes. Brigades: 1. Tilton: 18, 22 Mass, 1 Mich, 188 Pa; 2. Sweitzer: 9, 32 Mass, 4 Mich, 62 Pa; 3. Vincent, Rice: 20 Me, 16 Mich, 44 NY, 83 Pa.
2nd Division, Ayers. Brigades: 1. Day: 3, 4, 6, 12, 14 US; 2. Burbank: 2, 7, 10, 11, 17 US; 3. Weed, Garrard: 140, 146 NY, 91, 155 Pa.
3rd Division, Crawford. Brigades: 1. McCandless: 1, 2, 6, 13 Pa Res; 3. Fisher: 5, 9, 10, 11, 12 Pa Res.
Note: The 62nd Reg’t lost heavily 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% of the officers and 40% 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 L.R.M. September 1988.
I trust this account and these letters will be preserved for the benefit and interest of my descendants.
Logan R. Moorhead
*In order to bring uniformity to the letters found in this collection, IUP Special Collections Staff chose to format the letters in order to aid in the readers viewing of these documents. Below is the format we followed:
Heading – Right Justified
Salutation – Left Justified
Body – Left Justified
Complimentary Closing – Right Justified
Post Script – Left Justified
All paragraphs are indented
A "/" in the transcriptions indicates separate lines in the original letters.
Other than the above mentioned changes for the sake of uniformity, the IUP Special Collections staff has to the best of our ability maintained the original integrity of the documents. Due to the age and condition of the letters, we have, at times, had to use our best judgment concerning punctuation and spelling. Also, in keeping with the integrity of the document, we attempted to maintain the original spelling and punctuation.
Three of the documents found in this collection lack clear dates. Logan R. Moorhead has placed these letters in what is in all likelihood chronological order. These letters are identified by a note at the top of the page signified by an asterisk.
*Also, the below descriptions are meant to aid the reader in their viewing of the letters.
- In the original letters, the word "rec@", with two tick marks below that @ sign was transcribed as "recd." It is in all likelihood that this is meant to mean "received"
- Also in these letters you will see the words "secesh" and "seceshers". During the Civil War, Union soldiers referred to the Confederates soldiers as secessionists, or "seceshers".
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