Henry Berry Lowrie ((ca. 1846- 72?) was a native of Robeson County, N.C. Prior to his birth, his family had large property holdings in the region but by the mid-nineteenth century had somehow lost most of these in a series of lawsuits. The Lowries were of both Scottish and native American ancestry and as such were part of a large Indian and mixed race population in the area, whose fortunes and civil rights were extensively marginalized during and after the presidency of Andrew Jackson.
Following the outbreak of the Civil War, Henry, his brother William, and their father joined a band of Indian bushwhackers who hid out in the swamps to evade compulsory conscription of Native American labor by the Confederate government. The group soon became known as “the Lowrie (Lowry) band” and engaged in guerilla warfare with the local Home Guard. At some point in an effort to avenge the killing of three of his first cousins, Henry assassinated a local Confederate postmaster, who was also serving as a conscription agent. Though he escaped capture, his father and brother William were executed in March 1865.
With the fall of the Confederacy, the Lowrie band seemingly vanished until Henry’s marriage in December 1865 to Rhoda Strong. During the event, he was arrested, placed in jail but managed to escape through the aid of his wartime companions. Republican victories in 1866-67, which eliminated the remaining remnants of Confederate control in local government seemed to offer some prospect of a fair trial. Agreeing to the terms offered, Lowrie returned but was soon again on the run after rumors spread that former adversaries were plotting a lynching attempt and that Republican officials were not providing adequate protection.
With the collapse of the agreement, Republican leaders moved even more zealously than their Confederate counterparts in an effort to permanently undo Lowrie and his followers. Rewards for capture eventually reached the then phenomenal sum of $11,000.
The conflict dragged off and on until 1874. Though his chief lieutenants were either killed or driven away from the area, Lowrie disappeared after February 1872. The mystery of his death and activities of his gang have since been the subject of a number of articles, books, including Mary C. Norment’s
The Lowrie History : As Acted in Part by Henry Berry Lowrie, The Great North Carolina Bandit (1875) and George A. Townsend’s
The Swamp Outlaws, and more recently an outdoor theatrical production,
Strike at the Wind, in Pembroke, N.C.