James Howard Lowell

June 12, 1842 - February 19, 1925


the journey

James Howard Lowell was born in Boston, the son of a cabinet maker. The 19-year-old lithography apprentice enlisted in the Union Army in July 1861 and fought in the Peninsular Campaign with the Massachusetts Thirteenth Regiment, Company A, before suffering a minor wound at Second Bull Run (Manassas) in 1862. Later that year, a gun shot wound to his left leg at the Battle of Antietam ended his active service.

The young women of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania nursed the wounded at a makeshift hospital set up in the Sunday school room of the German Reformed church. Sparks flew with a volunteer nurse who sang in a women's quartet, Kate Mary Roberts. 

After the war, lured by tales of gold and adventure, the young vet joined a wagon train in Kansas and set his sights westward. Montana Journey is the memoir Lowell wrote by hand upon his return stateside. He made a bee line to Harrisburg to collect his sweetheart, Kate Mary, who had waited for him nearly seven years. The couple married and moved to Holton, Kansas, where Lowell practiced law. He became a respected member of the community: a judge, presidential elector, and father of four who remained in touch with his Mass13th fellows. (13thMass.org.) A sample of pages from his Civil War photo album appear in the site gallery courtesy of cousin Tim Sewell.

Lowell died at age 82. He never returned to Montana. Kate Mary lived to be 96; she was Holton's oldest citizen. The journal passed to his second son, to my mother, then to me in 2012. Section II of Montana Journey features Lowell's Civil War correspondence and more about the Mass 13th. Family and biographical information appears in the appendix.


There are but few important events in the affairs of men
brought about by their own choice.”
— Ulysses S. Grant