Lowry War



During the Civil War, free blacks and Native Americans experienced something entirely different than what is portrayed for the whites. Labeled as "free people of color", these men were singled out for enforced labor. They were not entirely trusted, since it was believed that they had supported and encouraged slave rebellions. Two full companies of Thomas' Legion were Cherokee. In 1861 they were forced to work on Confederate fortifications at Fort Fisher. Rebelling against the forced labor, many fled into forests and swamps to resist. The Confederate Home Guard accused local free blacks of harboring escaped prisoners, deserters, hiding guns and stealing meat.
Henry Berry Lowry/Lowrie was one of twelve to fourteen children born to Allen Lowry and Mary Cumbo. Living in Pembroke, and descended from Indians, the Lowry's engaged in guerilla warfare. Henry killed 21 Dec 1864 neighbor James P Barnes who accused him of stealing food and harboring escaped Union prisoners. On 15 Jan 1865 he killed James Brantley Harris due to an ongoing dispute. His older brother William was the recognized leader of the guerilla band. The Home Guard accused Henry's father and brother William of various crimes, including illegal possession of firearms. They were tried and convicted in a hastily prepared court and executed 3 Mar 1865. It looked like the band had disbanded with peacetime. On 7 Dec 1865 he married Rhoda Strong, immediately following the ceremony and in front of the wedding guests, the former Home Guard, now militia, arrested Henry for murder for killing Barnes. He was taken to jail at Whiteville, where friends smuggled a file to him and he escaped. He was never tried for this crime. Governor Jonathan Worth declared him a outlaw and put a reward of $300 on his head. Henry was now looked to as the leader of the guerilla band. He lead raids against upper class whites. Following a raid, they would escape into the swamps, which served them well. In Dec 1868, Henry agreed to terms and surrendered. He was jailed in Lumberton, but again was not brought to trial. He again escaped. This time, the reward for him was raised to $11000. Some of his supporters were now declared outlaws with a price on their heads, too. A total reward of $25000 was offered for Henry and some of his supporters. In the summer of 1871, Governor William Holden requested and received a battery of artillery. For over eight years he was hunted. In Feb 1872, Henry disappeared without a trace and was never seen again. The reward on his head was never collected. There were reports that he and his body guard and good friend Boss Strong were dead and buried. Henry's wife, Rhoda, insisted that he made good an escape. She pledged that until she died in 1909, although she remarried just a few years after his disappearance. By 1874, Henry and all of his chief lieutenants were either dead or escaped and the Lowry War was considered over. It it interesting to note that the Lowry band never took everything and made it a point to treat those whom they took any thing from with respect, sometimes returning horse and wagons when they were through with them. In some respects they were a Robin Hood type of band in that they shared what they could with those who didn't have. To some, they were heroes. To others, they were criminals.





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