About Brig. General Robert Lowrey (CSA), Governor
Robert Lowry (March 10, 1829 – January 19, 1910) was an American politician from Mississippi. During the American Civil War he rose from the rank of private to that of brigadier general in the Confederate States Army.
At the the Battle of Shiloh, Major Lowry commanded the Sixth Mississippi regiment which suffered very heavy casualties and he was wounded himself. He was the Confederate military leader who is credited with putting down the local uprising of citizens near Jones County, Mississippi who failed to be loyal rebels.
When the war was over, he returned to the practice of law at Brandon. Lowry briefly served in the state senate after the war (1865–1866). Massive fraud in the gubernatorial election of 1881 resulted in the election of the subject over the Independent People's Party candidate, Benjamin King. Between 1882 and 1890 he was the Democratic governor of Mississippi, serving two four-year terms. He could be called a Bourbon Democrat. The Farmers' Alliance movement continued to show local action in Yazoo County and in most areas of the state. Governor Lowry called out the state militia to keep the peace in Leflore County at the end of his term of office. Political activity related to peonage and racial discrimination in the Mississippi delta and other areas of the state led to violence during his term of office. Rapid industrial development occurred during his administration as well as the founding of the first state-supported women's college at Columbus.
Though Robert Lowry's last eighteen months on earth were spent battling the long and painful illness of rheumatism, he always maintained a bright and cheerful spirit. He had been a hale and hearty man, a model for leadership in times of turmoil, and a great patriarch of his State's efforts to regain its prominence so painfully stripped by the War Between the States. He was one around whom thousands would rally for comfort and advice in those trying days and who had been most instrumental in overcoming the carpetbag rule of the post war years. He was a two-term Governor of Mississippi during some extremely difficult years (1881-1889), and afterwards resumed a lucrative law practice in Brandon and Jackson, but during his last months of waning health, his predominant memories must have been of the great battlefields of the war. In those final months he had time to draw from the vast repository of events stored in his memory from the proactive life lived in such a crucial time in our history.
It was 1861, in Rankin County where he answered the call to military service, enlisting in Company B, 6th Mississippi Infantry and being elected major of that unit. In their subsequent combat engagement at Shiloh, Robert Lowry was wounded twice, once in the arm and once in the chest as his company lost three hundred and ten men out of their total number of four hundred and twenety-five. They earned nicknames such as the "Bloody Sixth" and one historian described their ranks as "having been reduced to a burial squad." After his recuperation Lowry rejoined his regiment as their colonel in Corinth and led them into action in the battles of Second Corinth, Port Hudson, Port Gibson, Bayou Pierre, Champion Hill, and Vicksburg.
They were the "Rankin Grays," "Rockport Steel Blades," "Lake Rebels," "Rankin Rough and Readys," "Quitman Guards," and with Robert Lowry as their commander they were singled out many times for conspicuous gallantry. As part of the army of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, Lowry's Mississippians fought bravely from Reseca to Atlanta and on into Gen. John Bell Hood's Tennessee campaign.
As they were heavily engaged in the bloody battle of Franklin, Tennessee, their Brigadier commander, Gen. John Adams, was killed and Colonel Lowry immediately assumed command of the brigade, leading them fearlessly in one of the most intense battles of the war. Throughout the Battle of Nashville and the retreat from Tennessee the Mississippians fought fearlessly. Robert Lowry was promoted to brigadier general prior to their movements into North Carolina, to rank from February 4, 1865. General Lowry's Mississippians were engaged in the Battle of Bentonville and later surrendered with Johnston in North Carolina. He was paroled in Greensboro in May, 1865, and with the remainder of his loyal brigade returned to his beloved home in Brandon, Mississippi and resumed his law practice.
His thoughts of the terrible clash of armies and the din of battle came to a peaceful end at 9:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 19, 1910, at the home of his granddaughter on State Street in Jackson. Although he had occupied offices that customarily were accompanied by great pomp and display, he was known to dislike such ceremony and because of this, his family respectfully declined the offer of the Governor to allow his body to lie in state in the new State Capitol building.
His funeral service was held at noon on Friday, January 21, 1910. A special coach was added to the regular passenger train from Jackson to Brandon Friday afternoon to accommodate the body and the many legislators and other distinguished dignitaries who were to attend the interment in Brandon. After a simple grave site service and eloquent prayer the members of the Robert A. Smith camp and the Rankin camp of Confederate Veterans, most of whom had served with the gallant commander, completed the burial in honor of their fallen comrade allowing no one else to use the shovels. Beautiful flowers were placed on the grave by the Brandon Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Perhaps the official notice of Governor E. F. Noel to the Legislature on the day following the death of the gallant General and statesman best illustrates the loss so deeply felt by all Mississippians at the time of his death:
"The angel of death, last night called from life to eternity, one of Mississippi's noblest and most patriotic citizens, ex-Governor Robert Lowry; A soldier without fear, a statesman without guile, and a gentleman above reproach has answered his last roll call. As Governor for eight years he gave to our State an efficient and honorable administration of public affairs. As an officer of the Confederacy and as commander of the Mississippi division of the United Confederate Veterans, he was true and tried, faithful to every duty and trusted and beloved by all with whom he was associated. Mississippians grieve at the departure of one whom they love to honor and extend to his family and friends their heartfelt sympathy. I desire to bring this sad intelligence officially to your notice that you may take such action as you may deem appropriate for the occasion."
The Mississippi Legislature in turn issued the following resolution:
"Whereas, the Legislature has heard with profound sorrow of the death last night of the beloved and lamented Governor Robert Lowry, soldier, statesman, and patriot who in war barred his breast to the bullets of the enemy, and in peace defended the rights of the people of his State with honor in himself and glory to her...therefore, be it resolved that the Legislature of the State of Mississippi do now in honor of his memory, adjourn to Monday, at 11:00 a.m. and attend his funeral in a body."
So came to an end the life of a man who braved many battles. Whether as a successful businessman, renowned attorney, effective legislator, brigadier general of Confederate Infantry, Governor of the State of Mississippi, notable historian who co-penned an illustrious history of Mississippi, or as a loving husband and the protective father of eleven children, General Robert L. Lowry always answered the call to duty and honor in service to the State he so dearly loved.
From "They Sleep Beneath The Mockingbird" (Mississippi Burial Sites and Biographies of Confederate Generals) by Harold A. Cross
Brigadier-General Robert Lowry is a native of South Carolina. When a little child he was taken by his father on his removal to Perry (now Decatur) county, Tenn., and afterward to Tishomingo county, Miss., and while yet in boyhood he went to Raleigh, Smith county, Miss., to live with his uncle, Judge James Lowry.
When he reached manhood's estate he adopted the profession of law and soon rose to prominence. He represented the people of his county in the lower house of the State legislature, and was then elected from his district to the senate of Mississippi.
When the war began he entered the Confederate army as a private in Company B of the Sixth Mississippi infantry. Upon the organization of the regiment he was elected its major. At the battle of Shiloh Colonel Thornton resigned because of wounds, and Major Lowry was elected colonel and commissioned on the 23d of May, 1862. He led this regiment at the battles of Corinth, Port Gibson and Baker's Creek. Of his conduct at Port Gibson Gen. Martin E. Green said: "Col. Robert Lowry, of the Sixth Mississippi, deserves the highest commendation for his coolness and promptness in executing every order." During the Atlanta campaign his regiment was attached to the brigade of Gen. John Adams, Loring's division, one of the best in the army of Tennessee. At the battle of Kenesaw Mountain, in command of the brigade skirmish line, he repulsed two attacks of the enemy. At the battle of Franklin General Adams was killed, and Colonel Lowry succeeded to the command of the brigade, which embraced the Sixth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Twentieth, Twenty-third and Forty-third Mississippi regiments of infantry. This force he led in the battle of Nashville and during the retreat from Tennessee. On February 4, 1865, he received his commission as brigadier-general. He shared in the campaign in the Carolinas and participated in the battle of Bentonville, the last one fought by the army of Tennessee.
Returning to Mississippi after the war he went to work under the new order of things to assist in the rehabilitation of his State. Against his protest he was nominated by the Democratic State convention in 1869 for the office of attorney-general. At that time the Republicans had control of the State and he was defeated. In 1881 he was elected governor of Mississippi to succeed Governor Stone. He was inaugurated in January, 1882, and gave such satisfaction that he was re-elected in 1885. His administration of eight years was strong and vigorous and added greatly to the prosperity and development of Mississippi.
During his administration there occurred a notable event. Jefferson Davis, ex-president of the Confederate States, by invitation of the legislature visited the city of Jackson. As Mr. Davis entered the hall escorted by Governor Lowry cheer after cheer resounded through the building. The speech of Mr. Davis was one replete with feeling and aroused the greatest enthusiasm.
In 1890 Governor Lowry turned over the governorship to Col. John M. Stone, who had once before served the State acceptably in that capacity. General Lowry is one of the most highly esteemed citizens of Mississippi, to whose interests he has always been true in war and in peace.