An Autobiography.McNairy county, Tennessee, the 30th of December, 1828. My father died when I was a small boy, leaving my mother (who yet survives) with a large family of children to raise, and with but little means. I was the youngest of five sons, all of whom are yet living. I had two sisters younger than myself, one of whom died in childhood; also four sisters older than myself. My mother was not able to give me a good education, and as the first resolution of any importance  that I ever formed was to make a fortune, I neglected the cultivation of my mind in early youth. In my fifteenth year my mother removed to Farmington, a little village in Tishomingo county, Mississippi, four miles from where Corinth is now situated. In my eighteenth year I volunteered in a company that was being raised for the Mexican war, but the call on our State was filled before the company was fully organized, and we were not received. Then, in my nineteenth year, when recruits were called for to fill up the ranks of the Second Mississippi regiment, I volunteered, went to Mexico, remained in the service until the close of the war, and was mustered out of service with the balance of my regiment at Vicksburg, Mississippi, in July, 1848, having been a soldier nine months and five days. I was a private in Captain Alex. Jackson's company, of the Second Mississippi regiment. This regiment was first commanded by Colonel Reuben Davis, but when I was with it, it was commanded by Colonel Charles Black, who was in the late war a while as brigadier-general in the Confederate army, and afterwards Governor of Mississippi. I was not in any battle in the Mexican war, as our regiment was never engaged. The regiment was well drilled, and was kept under good discipline; and here I formed a taste for military discipline and tactics. At twenty-one years of age I was married to Miss Sarah Holmes, of Tishomingo county, who was a daughter of Isham Holmes, a thrifty farmer, who lived near Rienzi. I had professed the Christian religion in my seventeenth year, and became a member of the Baptist church. After a long struggle with my almost unconquerable resolution to become rich—a struggle between worldly interest and Christian duty—in my twenty-fourth year I yielded to the call of my church, began the work of the gospel ministry and devoted my whole time to the pursuit of knowledge and to the other duties of my profession. From the very beginning of this arduous undertaking I received great encouragement, both from the church and from the world. I was favored with large and attentive congregations, and my first labors were crowned with encouraging success. I was soon called to positions that opened the way to usefulness—gave me a support for my family—opportunities to improve my education, and to give myself wholly to my profession. As I had gained a victory over my ambition to gain wealth, this was all I asked, and I never indulged a moment's thought of turning from the holy calling to make money, or for any civil or military position. At the beginning of the late war I lived at Kossuth, a little village  nine miles southwest of Corinth—was quietly pursuing my theological studies—had the pastoral care of some religious congregations to whom I was much attached, and who cherished the warmest affection for me as their spiritual guide and instructor. In political questions I took no part, as I did not think it became a minister of the gospel to engage in the heated discussions that then prevailed throughout the country, and naturally led to the indulgence of immoderate feelings and passions. But our people were all aroused, and were, to a man, for the Confederacy. My feelings ran in the same channel, and there was no neutral ground to occupy. I was called out in several public meetings, and gave free expression to my sentiments. I was also appointed beforehand to address public meetings, and was thus brought prominently before the public in a manner I had endeavored to avoid. As I had had some experience in military service in the Mexican war, I was soon urged to accept the command of men, and was more than once waited on and urged to do so, but positively declined. But in the fall of 1861, the Legislature of Mississippi passed an act calling out ten thousand men for sixty days, to arm and equip themselves for an emergency. My neighbors raised a company and elected me captain of it, urging that I could go with them for sixty days and that it was my duty to do so. I could not refuse. In a few days I was with my company at Corinth, the place of rendezvous; and at the organization of a regiment, I was almost unanimously elected colonel of it. About the first of December, my regiment being fully organized (which was numbered at the State capital ‘the Fourth regiment of sixty days volunteers’), I was ordered to Bowling Green, Kentucky, with other State troops, all of which were commanded by General Reuben Davis, who had been made a major-general in the State service. My men having left comfortable homes in the cold winter, and being unused to camp-life, nearly all got sick. Measles and pneumonia prevailed to an alarming extent, and many good men died. At the close of our term we were discharged, and I felt that my military career was at an end. I attempted to return to civil life and to the care of my Christian congregations. But after the fall of Fort Donelson, the clamor for my services in the field so increased that it was irresistible. Many who had been with me in the sixty days State service, and who wanted to volunteer for the war, begged me to go with them. Old ladies and old gentlemen earnestly entreated me to go with their sons. Tishomingo county had lost a regiment at Fort Donelson (the Twenty-sixth Mississippi),  and our people resolved to put another in the field in its place, and I was selected to raise and organize it. Our State was threatened with invasion, and Tishomingo county was the threatened point. All felt that every man who could bear arms should rise up and stand between his home and the enemy, and he who would not do so was deemed unworthy to be called a Mississippian. Churches felt that they had no use for pastors then—fighting men were in demand. I was restless, and my blood was hot within me. The thought of sitting still until the enemy would overrun my home and family was more than I could bear. The result is soon told: I raised and organized the Thirty-second Mississippi regiment in a little less time than any other regiment was ever raised and organized in north Mississippi. The regiment was organized at Corinth on the third of April, 1862, and I was unanimously elected colonel. This was a few days before the battle of Shiloh; but at the time of that battle the regiment had not been equipped or armed, and was not in the fight, but we received prisoners and captured property, and accompanied prisoners to the interior. After the battle, my regiment was assigned to Brigadier-General S. A. M. Wood's brigade of Hardee's division. I was very soon the senior colonel in the brigade, except Colonel W. B. Wood, of the Sixteenth Alabama, who was for nearly a year absent from the army. Then, in the absence of the brigadier-general, I was entitled to the command. I was frequently thrown in command of the brigade before the commencement of the Kentucky campaign. At Chattanooga, before the campaign commenced, the army was reorganized. General Hardee was placed in command of a corps and Major-General Buckner placed in command of our division. As soon as the army entered Kentucky, General Buckner left the division for a time, to encourage the enlistment of Kentucky troops, and General Wood, being the senior brigadier, was placed in command of the division, which left me in command of the brigade. I had engaged in some active skirmishing about Corinth, but the battle of Perryville was the first regular engagement I was ever in. Just before the commencement of the battle, General Buckner resumed the command of the division and General Wood of the brigade, which sent me back to my regiment. But before we got near the enemy General Wood was slightly wounded by a shell, and I resumed the command of the brigade. So, I commanded a brigade in the first battle I was ever engaged in. But I was soon painfully wounded in my left arm, by which I was disabled about eight weeks. At the battle of Murfreesboro,  my regiment was detached for special service, and did not engage in the first day's fight, but took an active part in the skirmishing that followed it, and I was left to bring off the brigade in the retreat from that place. Early in 1863, at Tullahoma, the Forty-fifth Mississippi regiment was consolidated with mine, and I was placed in command of the consolidated regiments. Up to this time I had but little opportunity to drill my regiment, but at Tullahoma, in the spring of 1863, we drilled for several months, and my regiment became very proficient in drill. In an inspection by General Hardee of each regiment of Wood's brigade, drilling separately, my regiment was pronounced by him the best drilled regiment in the brigade, and the regiment was complimented in a general order. In the small fights and skirmishes that preceded the retreat from middle Tennessee in July, 1863, my regiment took an active part. The next regular battle in which I was engaged was that of Chickamauga. In that, after a gallant charge, made by Cleburne's division on the evening of the first day, in which we drove the enemy from a strong position, and in which my regiment charged gallantly through an open field on the most exposed part of the line, General Cleburne complimented me personally; but the gallantry displayed was not mine, but that of my men. In the engagement the next morning, when we charged the enemy's works and were repulsed with heavy loss, my regiment was, I think, in the most exposed part of the line, but held its position until all the troops had retreated, both on the right and left, and then was the first regiment to rally and form for another onset. I was again complimented by General Cleburne, and I and my command were favorably noticed in his official report, as you are aware. My promotion immediately followed this engagement, with the circumstances of which you are well acquainted. My appointment as brigadier-general was on the 4th of October, 1863. I had then served as colonel eighteen months besides my sixty days service with State troops. I count from the time of my election; but under authority of the war department I had raised and organized the regiment, acting in the capacity and with the rank of colonel. You remember that after my promotion to brigadier-general I was assigned to the command of the old brigade with which I had served from the beginning, and which I had often commanded. From the foregoing you will observe, also, that I had never commanded less than a brigade. I know you remember all about the part I took in the battle of  Missionary Ridge, as you were on my line several times during the day and brought me the order at night to retreat. I selected the position I occupied on the right, without a guide and without knowing the country, occupied it and fortified it under the fire of the enemy, and held it, protecting the right flank of our army all day. At Ringgold, or Taylor's Ridge, my brigade was at first held in reserve in the gap; and General Polk, having been sent over behind the right hand hill, had sent the First Arkansas regiment upon the hill to watch the movements of the enemy. When General Cleburne saw heavy columns of the enemy moving rapidly to his right, he gave me a verbal order, I think in these words: ‘Go upon that hill and see that the enemy don't turn my right.’ I moved by the right flank and, with much difficulty, climbed the rugged hill. I got my horse up the hill with much difficulty, but my field-officers all left their horses and went up on foot. On reaching the top of the hill, I heard firing on the right about a quarter of a mile ahead of me. I left a staff-officer to close up the command in haste, and hurry them on, and I went in full speed to see what the firing meant. On reaching the place, I found the First Arkansas standing alone against a large force of the enemy, who had already reached the summit. They felt that they were overpowered, and were just about to give away, but I dashed up to them and encouraged them, by assuring them that my brigade was just at hand. They gathered courage and held their ground. I dashed back in full speed, and knowing that the position would be entirely lost if I waited to bring my whole command at once, as the line had to be changed, I threw forward a regiment at a time, leading each regiment in person, and by a dash drove the enemy from the top of the hill. As I brought up my last regiment, I discovered that Brigadier-General Polk had hastily formed his brigade still further to the right, and was hotly engaged. A staff-officer came from him in full speed asking me for help, saying that the enemy were charging in massed column on the position then held by the First Arkansas, which, having been so long engaged, were out of ammunition. I took the Forty-fifth Alabama, which I was just then bringing into position, and went in double-quick, threw them in rear of the First Arkansas, and moved them up in time to repulse the enemy. The victory was ours, and the enemy was gone down the hill in perfect confusion. A deafening shout of triumph went down our line, and General Polk, as if enwrapped in the glory of our success, dashed up to me, and seizing me by the hand exclaimed, ‘Just in time to save us, General!’ The men, observing the rapture of their brigade  commanders, again pierced the heavens with their shouts of triumph, greatly to the annoyance, no doubt, of the discomfited columns of the enemy. This was the most glorious triumph I ever witnessed on a battlefield. And there is nothing more certain than that tardy movements would have resulted in not only loss of that position, but the defeat of the entire division, and the loss of the trains and artillery of the army. This was on the 27th of November, 1863. I took an active part in the campaign that opened at Dalton on the 7th of May, 1864. You remember the effort made by the enemy on the New Hope church line on the 27th of May, 1864, to turn our right flank, in which Cleburne's division by a dash defeated the enemy. In that engagement, Granbury, having formed his brigade rapidly on the right of Govan, had nothing but a few cavalry on his right, and these were rapidly giving away before heavy columns of Yankee infantry. My brigade, then being in reserve to Tucker's brigade, was ordered at 5 P. M. to move rapidly to the right. We went about a mile and a half, most of the way in double-quick. General Cleburne met me on the way, and with his usual calmness told me that it was necessary to move rapidly. He then explained to me the situation, and as he left hastily he said, ‘Secure Granbury's right.’ Granbury was hotly engaged, and the enemy had already passed to the rear of his right flank, and was pressing on. I found the Eighth Arkansas, of Govan's brigade, hastening to the rescue, and as they were ahead of my command I ordered them to move up rapidly to Granbury's right, and as soon as one of my regiments had passed their right flank threw them forward to meet the advancing foe; and as the regiments moved up I threw them forward in rapid succession, and we drove the enemy back in handsome style. We pursued and drove him from a hill that commanded Granbury's whole line. This was the key to the whole situation, and it would have been impossible for Granbury to have held his ground with the enemy on that hill. This hill was taken by a gallant charge of the Thirty-third Alabama of my brigade; but they seemed to perceive the advantage they had lost, and made several efforts to regain it. The Thirty-third Alabama lost heavily for so short an engagement, and at one time the men wavered, and the position would have been lost but for the immediate presence of the gallant Colonel Adams and myself. I went to his assistance when he was in the midst of his men under a terrible fire, rallying and encouraging them, regardless of danger. I dashed into their midst on old  ‘Rebel,’ my favorite horse, and the position was held. Here again a victory was secured by a dash, that could have been secured in no other way. Granbury's gallant Texans fought as but few troops would have fought, and the destruction of the enemy in their front was perhaps the greatest that occurred during the whole war, considering the number engaged and length of time. But the position could not have been held had not the right flank been secured, and I am quite sure this could not have been done if I had waited to put my whole brigade in position, and move them all up at once. Indeed it was one of those times in which the victory trembled in the scale, and the lives of many men, and probably the destiny of an army, hung upon a moment of time. This engagement was on Pumpkinvine creek, just above Pickett's mill, and a little north of a road known as the Acworth road. I continued with the army, and participated in all the fighting of all that arduous and bloody campaign, commanding my own brigade in all the battles except Jonesboro, in which I commanded the division. You remember the engagement of the 22d of July, near Cobb's mill. In that engagement, after my own brigade had been cut to pieces, having lost half its number, I discovered an opportunity to make an assault on the enemy's flank, and got permission to make the attack with Mercer's brigade and some detachments that had just been brought up from the picket line, which we had left the night before. General Maney, in command of Cheatham's division, who ranked me, had discovered the opportunity, and was forming to make the movement, and I, not knowing it, marched up to his line. I could not move on without running over his line, which my respect for him and his rank would not allow. You were present, and I know you remember how by his tardy movements the opportunity was lost. But I would not like for anything in my personal history to reflect upon another officer. On the night of the 30th of August General Cleburne took command of Hardee's corps and I of Cleburne's division to move to Jonesboroa. General Hardee went by the train and took command of the forces. On the 31st I made an attack with the division on the enemy's right flank and drove the dismounted cavalry from their works, and we continued to pursue them for at least a mile. This was the only success achieved by our forces that day. I was then ordered back to relieve Lee's corps on our right, which had been ordered back in the direction of Atlanta. It was in the night when I reached the place, and I found works commenced on a part of the line; but  I had to form in one rank and continue the line further to the right. The next day, the first of September, having been deprived of Lee's corps, we fought the enemy five or six to one and held him in check all day. I, with Cleburne's division, occupied the extreme right. On the evening of that day the enemy moved in overwhelming force to turn our right flank. The movement was discovered by General Hardee, and he came to me in person, manifesting more excitement than I ever saw him at any other time, and told me that he had ordered additional forces to report to me, and for me to select a line and put them in position at once. I saw the necessity of retiring the right of the line, so as to form a crescent, so as to deceive the enemy by making them think they had found our skirmish line, and driving them back they would come upon the abatis and form for a desperate attack on our main line. Finding this but a skirmish line they would have to form again, and be thus detained until night, thus favoring us with an opportunity to retire. The plan worked well, and the result was that they did not find our right flank at all. This plan saved us that day. We retired that night to Lovejoy station, and I continued in command of the division about a week. The evening of the 2d, at Lovejoy, the enemy assaulted the position of the line occupied by my old brigade and were handsomely repulsed with considerable loss. There is nothing else worthy of notice in my military history until the beginning of active service in the campaign into Middle Tennessee. When the enemy began the retreat from the vicinity of Columbia, Tennessee, a large portion of our army crossed Duck river, at Davis' ford, five miles above Columbia. My brigade crossed first early on the morning of the 29th of November, and moved in advance all day. We moved to intercept the enemy at Spring Hill, but were compelled to move cautiously, for we were expecting continually to meet the enemy. The enemy made one bold demonstration on our moving columns in the evening, I suppose for the purpose of detaining us. General Hood was with me in person a good part of the day, and directed me to attack the enemy wherever I found him, without regard to his numbers or position. Late in the evening General Forrest attacked the enemy at Spring Hill, and I moved rapidly to his assistance. The enemy had moved out one mile from the village, and had made strong breastworks of fence rails, and occupied a strong position, from which the cavalry had failed to move him. The moment I arrived on the ground I formed line and moved  against the enemy, drove him from his works and pursued him about a mile through an open field. As soon as Granbury could come up and form he followed to my left, and Govan was brought up and was held in reserve. Granbury did not get into the engagement, as the whole of the enemy's line to my left gave way as my line advanced, but the line to my right stood firm, and as I advanced I left them in my rear. Here I will introduce an interesting incident in General Cleburne's conduct. As I passed the enemy on my right, the officers by great efforts kept their men in position, and from the cheering and waving of swords and hats which I observed, I thought they were going to charge me on my right flank. I saw Cleburne on the field, dashed up to him and told him that the enemy was about to charge me on my right flank. With his right hand raised, as though he held a heavy whip to be brought down upon his horse, and in a tone that manifested unusual excitement, he exclaimed, ‘I'll charge them!’ And dashing back to Govan's brigade he brought them up and did make a successful charge, driving the enemy in confusion from his position. In the engagement at Franklin my brigade was in the second line. The enemy was driven from his first line, but checked our forces at his second line. I brought up my brigade, and under the most destructive fire I ever witnessed, I threw my brigade into the outside ditch of his massive works, and my men fought the enemy across the parapet. Up to this time about half my men had fallen, and the balance could not scale the works. It would have been certain death or capture to every one of them. I went on my horse to within thirty feet of the works, where I had my horse wounded, and when I saw that nothing more could be done I went to the rear, and began the work of gathering up the fragments of our division. I then commanded the division a few days before the battle of Nashville, when Brigadier-General Smith, who ranked me by four days in date of appointment, came to the division, and was entitled to the command of it. The first day of the fight I commanded my brigade, which was near the extreme right, where we handsomely repulsed several severe assaults of the enemy. On the next day I was put in command of Cheatham's division, which was then on the extreme left. General Cheatham was commanding the corps, and General John C. Brown had commanded this division until he was wounded at Franklin. The division was in line of battle when I was ordered to take command of it. The enemy soon assaulted us heavily in  front, and continued a heavy flank movement to our left. I was compelled to take one brigade from the works to extend my line to the left. Soon Govan's brigade was driven from a hill immediately in our rear. I was then compelled to send my strongest brigade to that point, which left me to hold the works with a single rank, thinly scattered along the works. The brigade I sent to the hill in the rear soon regained the hill; but about the same time Bate's division on my right gave way, and the enemy poured through by thousands in my rear, my line being nearly at a right angle with the main line. My line was soon thrown back, the enemy surrounding me in the shape of a horseshoe, I only left the heel to go out at. At first I saw no chance for myself or any considerable portion of my division to escape capture. But at the only point where escape might be rendered possible, and by my own efforts, assisted by Lieutenant A. J. Hall, my aide-de-camp, a few men were rallied, who held the enemy in check until most of my men passed out and joined our broken and discomfited masses in their inglorious retreat. It was at this point that old ‘Rebel,’ my favorite war-steed, was killed. I had ridden him in all the engagements I had ever been in except two, and he had been four times wounded. I continued in command of this division nearly four months. At Chesterville, South Carolina, I got leave of absence and went to Richmond to tender my resignation, which was accepted on the 14th of March, 1865. My reasons for resigning were as follows: 1. I saw that the cause was lost. 2. I had been separated from the men and officers with whom I had borne the ‘burden and heat of the day,’ and to whom I was endeared by a thousand sacred ties, and although I was willing to stand with our broken forces until the end of the struggle, I was unwilling to mourn with strangers at the funeral of ‘The Lost Cause.’ 3. Our armies were, by an act of Congress, to be reorganized, and there was a surplus of officers of all grades, and I preferred to leave the offices to those who were more ambitious for military honor and position than myself. My highest ambition as a soldier was to do my whole duty, and advance the interest of that cause which was as dear to my heart as life. I have now given you a sketch of my course, from which you may glean whatever may tend to the answering of your purpose. I feel much more interest in my character and reputation as a Christian and a minister of the gospel than as a soldier, and that you may  know my standing as such I will give you a few items. I often preached in camp. While in camp at Dalton, Georgia, in the spring of 1864, there was a general revival of religion in the army, and I participated in it, preaching very often to my command. Within two weeks I baptized over fifty of my own men in a little creek near the camp. I believe my religious character gave me influence with my men in camp, on the march and in the field. While our division was in camp at Jonesboroa, Georgia, the 16th of September, 1864, having been set apart by the President as a day of fasting and prayer, on that day I preached to a large congregation of soldiers from this text: ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify me.’ Psalms 50: 15. Soon after, the following note was clipped from a Montgomery paper:
A preacher General.—Brigadier-General Lowrey, of the Army of Tennessee, is a member of the clerical profession—a fact which is not perhaps generally known. We have a letter dated Jonesboroa, Georgia, September 15th, which says:After the close of the war I settled in Tippah county, Mississippi, an adjoining county to the one in which I had formerly lived, and resumed regular engagements as a minister of the gospel. I also engaged as a stated contributor to a religious paper, the Christian Index, published in Atlanta, Georgia, and yet continue my contributions. I have made this sketch much more lengthy than I intended when I commenced; but those portions of it which are connected with the operations of my command embrace items of information that may be left out in other sketches that I propose giving you. Hoping you will pardon the delay, and any imperfections, or apparent want of modesty in writing about myself, I am, as ever, yours,We have had the pleasure of listening to a very impressive and eloquent sermon from Brigadier-General Lowrey. The General is a man of superior acquirements, and is always heard with increasing interest. A faithful soldier of the cross, as well as of his country, devout and brave, he unites, more than any living man, perhaps, those cardinal virtues of mind and heart which combine to make the noble, true, conscientious, Christian warrior.