As terror and bloodshed swept through the county, state officials frantically gathered forces to hunt and execute members of the Lowry Gang. In 1871, government reinforcements were sent to aid in the search, resulting in the capture and public execution of Henderson Oxendine. The leader of the Posse hunting Henry Berry Lowry was F.M. Wishart. In addition to other tactics, he and the Posse arrested and kidnapped the wives of the Gang members. However, the fear of Gang retaliation caused local communities to call for their release.

By August of 1871, the governor had requested the help of state militia, as all efforts to capture the Gang had been unsuccessful. Huge bounties were placed on the heads of all Gang members, with the reward for Henry Berry being as high as $12,000. Only the Lowrys, Oxendines, and Strongs were left. Bounty hunters killed several members of the Gang, but Henry Berry vanished in 1872; the reward on his life was never collected. Steve Lowry, the last Gang member in the county, was caught and killed by bounty hunters in 1874.

The Posse


Reproduction from Original, Wishart Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection

The posse that sought to hunt the Lowry gang murdered Tom Lowry, Henry Berry Lowry’s brother. In the photo, Tom is lying dead on the ground while the posse stands above his corpse. This picture is on e of the most notorious images of the Lowry War.

Wishart Diary- July 10, 1871

 wife battle Wishart Diary Wife Battle pg 2

Reproduction from Original, Wishart Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection

July 10 as the 10 men from Smith was ate with Henry Berry’s wife, Steve’s Wife, Make Locklear George Dial prisoners when within 300 yes of Head Quarters on the R.R. they were ambushed & fired [upon]. Note Archy McMillian Killed & Hector McNeil Archy Brown Mortally Wounded. Berry Barnes Slightly [wounded] Hip & Leg. Alex Brown Slightly [wounded] foot & Leg. James Lerney [wounded] Leg & Hand.George Dial map & suppose initiate all this at Buies Store they fired into their wives, they run through the woods & came on R.R at 300 yards high on up & commenced cheering & firing with their long ranged guns, the former was right 3 hour long. they left at about 1/2 before sunset. Heavy firing at the posse at Bear Grass landing.

Map of Scuffletown

Wishart Map

Reproduction from Original, Wishart Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection

The Lowry War took place in what was once known as Scuffletown, North Carolina, and surrounding areas. This area is centered around what is now Pembroke. F.M. Wishart drew the map in an effort to understand the area and find the Lowry Gang members. Despite the complexity of the swamplands, Wishart was able to contract a relatively accurate depiction of the area.