Five years ago, I posted a blog entry entitled “Eagles, Scalpels, Reputations – all tarnished,” as a clever way to discuss three of Dr. Thomas Lowry’s books, The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell, Tarnished Eagles, and Tarnished Scalpels. These three and other titles are the product of his prodigious research into Civil War-era courts martial records at the National Archives.
Today, Dr. Lowry stands accused of altering a historic document in order to be the one to make a prominent discovery, about which he wrote and gave talks for ten years.
- The National Archives offered this press release, complete with embedded video
- Lowry maintains his innocence in this Washington Post article.
- Historian Brooks Simpson presents some interesting commentary on the subject on his “Crossroads” blog.
- The New York Times weighs in as well.
UPDATE: Since originally reporting this strange story, it has been the subject of much commentary in the blogosphere -- nowhere more than at Brooks Simpson's blog -- and Lowry himself has created a blog in which he denied the allegations and vigorously defended himself. This Civil War Times article explains that Lowry passed a polygraph test. He has also submitted a sample for handwriting analysis. It appears this strange story may not be as cut-and-dried as it first appeared.
After reading the 1863 court-martial report of Pvt. Patrick Murphy of California, who had been characterized as “idiotic and insane,” Lincoln pardoned him and released him from the military. The otherwise-obscure pardon became part of a National Archives exhibit in 1998, leading Dr. Lowry to conclude in his book: “Fame comes to men in many strange ways.”
|Dr. Lowry with my newborn son Atticus, Presidio National|
Cemetery, San Francisco, circa 1994.