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Sketches of Virginia
Chapter XLVI. - Messrs Logan Bowyer and Anderson


Robert Logan had the refusal of the tutorship in Hampden Sidney when John H. Rice applied for it. Upon being visited by Mr. Rice upon the subject, he gave up his right, and recommended his friend to be the tutor. He was born in Bethel Congregation, Augusta County, September, 1769. He was reared piously in the strictness of the Presbyterian faith and customs, one of a large family of children, all of whom became professing members of the Church. His literary and theological course was passed at Liberty Hall under the care of Rev. Wm. Graham. Upon being licensed to preach the gospel, he made some missionary excursions, and visited Genessee County in New York, made an excursion to New England, visited Kentucky, and finally settled in Fincastle, Botetourt County. While in Kentucky he married Miss Margaret Moore, from "Walker’s Creek, Rockbridge County, Virginia. For many years he was the frontier minister. Mr. Houston, at the Natural Bridge, was his nearest neighbor north, and Mr. M’Ilhenney, of Lewisburg, Greenbrier County, west. Rev. Samuel H. M’Nutt was for a time his neighbor on New River. With a wide field around him, and a disposition to occupy it, he was compelled to teach a classical and promiscuous school a great part of the time he was in the ministry, to obtain a decent support for his family. His life was therefore monotonous, and his opportunities for improvement very limited ; while his labors were great and unremitted, except as sickness sometimes caused him to intermit his regular course. Salem, now in Roanoke, shared with Fincastle in his principal labors ; and as his strength enabled him he visited the surrounding counties with the messages of mercy. Occasionally he would dismiss his school, and try the practicability of living as a minister of Christ disengaged from all business but the especial duties of the office to which he had been ordained. On one of these occasions, having stated his intentions and hopes to Mr. Speece, and the amount of expenditure he thought would supply the wants of his family, and how it was to be-obtained, that brother remarked, that brother Logan’s faith must be very strong to live in Fincastle on his salary. Mr. Logan died October, 1828, in his 60th year, having preached in Fincastle about thirty years. Though his church and congregation were not large, there were some members of both for whom he had the highest regard. His remains lie near the church in Fincastle. A short sketch of two gentlemen of Fincastle, his cotemporaries, will not be uninteresting— Col. Bowyer and Col. Anderson, both of whom survived him a few years.

On the many in Botetourt County that did well in the Revolution, some at least, should have their names enrolled in the list of those to be remembered. Of the greater part of the active patriots no memorial has been written, and their names and their deeds are passing away from all human recollection. The following letter from the late Judge Edward Johnston gives all that can be gathered of one brave soldier, the type of many others.

"Early in the war of the Revolution, if not at its commencement, Col. Bowyer was living in Fincastle with his uncle Mike Bowyer, who owned a store in that place, in which Colonel Bowyer, then supposed to be about sixteen years old, acted in the capacity of salesman. His uncle having determined to join the army, upon leaving Fincastle for that purpose, committed the management of his store to his nephew, with directions to continue the business until all the goods were disposed of. This, according to the Colonel’s mode of conducting the business, required but a very short time, for, burning with a desire to join the army himself, no sooner had his uncle taken his departure than he put up the whole establishment at auction, sold the goods for what they would bring, and immediately started himself for the army. He first went to Philadelphia, but whether he entered the service at once there, or at some other place, is not remembered. It is however certain that he soon connected himself with Col. Washington’s corps of cavalry, with which he continued to the end of the war. There is reason to believe that at one time he served in the infantry, from a circumstance which he once mentioned, for the purpose of showing the undying hate which the enemy cherished towards the ‘rebels.’ It was this: After a skirmish, in which we were successful, Col. Bowyer was reloading his musket, and while doing so a wounded soldier of the enemy, who was lying prostrate on the ground near him, raised his head, and begged him for a drink of water. Having nothing else, Col. Bowyer took off his cap, and dipping up some water from a stream just at hand, handed it to the soldier. The latter, after satisfying his thirst, spirited his mouthful of water into the Colonel’s face. His first impulse,' he said, was to run his bayonet through him, but remembering his helpless condition, he restrained himself.

“Col. Bowyer was in that most bloody and disastrous engagement to our army, known as Buford’s defeat. He acted as aid to Buford on the occasion, and during the day was ordered by the latter to bear a flag (of truce, I think) to Tarleton. Col. Bowyer remonstrated with Buford against the undertaking, by telling him that he must needs pass between the two armies, then hotly engaged, and thus be exposed to the fire of each. Col. Buford replied that ‘ he had his orders.’ Immediately he put spurs to his horse, and galloped off in the direction of Tarleton, who was surrounded by his staff. Just before reaching the spot where Tarleton was stationed, the latter’s horse had been shot, and in falling had caught Tarleton’s leg under him, and Tarleton, being very much exasperated5 and seeing Col. Bowyer approaching, ordered his men to 'Cut the d—d rebel down.’ No sooner was this spoken, than they surrounded Col. Bowyer, and commenced cutting at him with their swords. At this critical moment, however, a well directed fire from our men, some of whom were watching with intense interest the result of Col. Bowyer’s hazardous undertaking, set the horses of those around him to jumping and rearing, and thus an opening was formed, sufficient to pass through. Of this he instantly availed himself, neither he nor his horse, to use his own expression, 'liking the company they were in.’ He was pursued for a considerable distance, and only escaped being taken by leaping a high fence that lay across his way. Those in pursuit of him did not attempt to follow him, although close upon his heels. His horse afterwards fainted from loss of blood from the wounds he received in the attempt to deliver the flag. By this time it is presumed our men were running in every direction. Col. Bowyer, in the flight, met with one of our wounded soldiers, who could scarcely walk. Dismounting, he put the wounded man on his horse, and reached in safety a cabin in the woods. Here they remained all night, the wounded soldier lying before the fire, unable apparently to rise. But about midnight, a tramping of horses’ hoofs being heard around the cabin, in an instant, as if nothing, said Col. Bowyer, was the matter, he sprang to his feet, and grasped his gun, and stood ready for battle. The alarm, however, proved a false one, for instead of the* enemy as they supposed, the horses turned out to be loose ones, that had strayed in that direction, from the field of battle.

“At one time Col. Bowyer was stationed in Petersburg, While there, he performed a feat on horseback, which, in process of time, was much exaggerated. As the story ran, he leaped over a covered wagon standing in the street, and the prints of his horse’s hoofs were visible for many years after. Upon being repeated to Col. Bowyer, in his old age, by a lady who lived in Petersburg at the time of the event, he was much amused, and said it was true he had leaped a wagon, but it was a small one, and had no cover on it. The facts, he said, were these: A company of soldiers, of whom Col. Washington and himself formed a part, had been to a party in the country, and returning at night in a gallop, they encountered a wagon stretching across the road. Col. Bowyer being mounted upon a remarkably fine horse, succeeded in clearing it, but none of the company followed him.

“After the war was ended, Col. Bowyer returned to Fincastle, and was subsequently elected Clerk of the County Court of Botetourt. This office he held until the new Constitution went into operation in 1831, a period of about 40 years.' At the election under the new Constitution, he declined being a candidate, and his son, Henry W. Bowyer, the present Clerk of the Circuit Court of Botetourt, was elected in his place. Col. Bowyer’s wife was a daughter of Thomas Madison, Esq., of Botetourt, brother to Bishop Madison. Her mother, Mrs. Madison, was a sister of Patrick Henry.

“Col. Bowyer departed this life in 1833, aged 72 years, leaving his wife and eight children to survive him. Of Mrs. Bowyer much might be said, were we attempting a sketch of her life. She was, in many respects, an extraordinary woman. Of a strong mind, and fond of reading, she devoted a large portion of her time to that favorite employment, especially to the reading of the Scriptures. For the last 20 years of her life she was in the constant habit of reading the Bible through every year, and sometimes in six months. She was remarkably punctual and regular in all her habits, devoting portions of every day to reading, and others to the ordinary duties of life. Of her deeds of charity and benevolence we will say nothing. She made no display of show while living, and was so averse to anything like ostentation, it would hardly be respectful to her memory to mention them now. Her recollection of past events was very accurate, and as evidence it may be interesting to mention the following fact. Some years before her death, which took place in 1847, a publication appeared of the Tract Society, in which it was stated that the work of Soame Jennings had produced so powerful an impression on the mind of the great orator, Patrick Henry, that he had, while Governor of Virginia, procured an edition of it to he struck off for distribution among his friends. As soon as Mrs. Bowyer saw this statement, she said she distinctly remembered, while she was yet a girl, that her uncle, Mr. Henry, paid a visit .to her father in Botetourt, and had in his saddle-bags a copy of that book, which he intended to present to General Breckenridge.”

William Anderson, born in Delaware, in the year 1763, came with his father’s family, when about six years of age, to the County of Botetourt; which was henceforth his home, and finally his burying-place. He grew up in the troubles, and distresses, and excitements, and sufferings of the Revolutionary War. When sixteen years of age, he took his musket, and engaged in the famous Southern War, of which Gen. Lee has given so powerfully graphic a description, in his Memoirs of the Campaigns. The battle of Camden had been fought, and Greene was sent to try the strategy of war with Cornwallis. Morgan, who would not serve under Gates, on account of the events succeeding the surrender of Burgoyne, was persuaded to go with Greene to the recovery of the South from the defeat at Camden. Young Anderson joined a volunteer company, and marched with Greene to North Carolina. He was detached with Morgan to Ninety-Six, where the battle of Cowpens was fought—in a manner so honorably and successfully. Morgan’s flight towards Virginia, to preserve his 500 prisoners from recapture, brought the famous march of Greene across North Carolina, to cover Morgan’s flight, and the equally famous pursuit of Cornwallis to recover Tarleton’s men. The rear guard of the American forces was committed to Col. Otho Williams of Maryland, and young Anderson was detached to form one of his corps. Cornwallis was pressing on to bring Greene to action ; and Greene straining every nerve to escape that necessity. The front guard of Cornwallis and the rear of Greene were often within gunshot of each other; and detachments not unfrequently in speaking distance. Conscious that any skirmish could but end in the loss of a few men, and that a general battle could be brought on only at some river, these brave men refused to fire at each other in these circumstances, and busied themselves in the ordinary duties of advanced and rear guards, it is said that small companies of these guards sometimes unexpectedly met at springs, and exchanged salutations, and tobacco, and rejoined their companions. Three times the main armies were so near, an action seemed inevitable—at the passage of the Catawba, the Yadkin, and the Dan. In this memorable passage across Carolina, young Anderson bore cheerfully the trials and distresses of the patriot army, on the success of which depended the liberties of the South. It is to be regretted that Mr. Anderson entirely omitted to leave any written memoranda of his youthful campaigns. A succinct, yet brief, diary of his marches with Morgan, and under Otho Williams, would now be read with intense interest by more than his descendants, If we could read from him, how he fared, how far they marched, what the soldiers did in their encampments, we should he more than amused.

The second war with Great Britain found him a colonel of the militia of Botetourt. He answered the draft made for the defence of Norfolk; and marched at the head of a regiment to the seaboard. Through the trials of that tour of duty he passed with the cheerfulness that characterized him in Carolina. It is to be regretted that memoranda of his second experience in war, from his pen, can nowhere be found. In Carolina, activity, speed, and romantic enterprise, were the order of the day in the taste his youth had of war; in his 50th year, the dull routine of a camp life, in which sickness wasted the ranks the enemies bullets might not pierce. For a great part of his active life, about fifty years, he was county surveyor, for a long time a magistrate, and for many years commissioner of the James River, and occasionally engineer of public improvements, and member of the Legislature of the State. In all these public stations, he exhibited a high order of moral and physical energy, which seems to be passing away with the generation that were young in the Revolution, or confined to the remote frontiers of our extended country. He studied to make himself useful to the public that employed him, and the public continued his employment on account of his usefulness and integrity. His office as surveyor, when the country was comparatively new, and the boundaries of estates not very definitely settled, and much vacant land of good quality to be found, and speculations involving no impropriety, offering speedy increase of capital and future wealth, opened for him continued opportunities of acquiring large possessions. But he passed through life in moderate circumstances. Scrupulously honest, sensitive of his reputation, and cherishing the pure principles of the gospel, he practised a charity that seeketh not her own, believing that wealth was not the best inheritance for children.

In the great revival, to which reference is so often made, commencing in Charlotte and Prince Edward, and spreading ultimately over the Valley of Virginia, under the preaching of J. B. Smith, Graham, Mitchel, Lacy, and Legrand, about the years 1788 and ’89, Mr. Anderson felt himself moved to attend particularly to the great concerns of his soul under the gospel dispensation. Of the crowds who then waited on the ministrations of the gospel, and professed their faith in the Lord Jesus, Mr. Anderson was one of the few that remained to tell, to the present generation, of the excitements and experience of those days. The Rev. Stephen F. Cocke, the pastor of Fincastle Presbyterian church, in a sermon at the burial of Mr. Anderson, says, ‘‘ He often referred to the period, in his private conversations with his Christian friends, and with becoming emotions of gratitude, thanked God that he permitted him, so early in life, to dedicate the prime and vigor of his days to the service of his Church. And when, like David, he was old and full of years, the Lord did not forsake his servant, but gave him the inestimable peace and satisfaction of looking back upon a long life, truly and faithfully endeavored to have been spent in the service of his Maker, and forward to that dispensation of happiness in heaven, which he had embraced by faith, possessed in hope, and of which he had so often tasted in the comforts of the Holy Ghost, shed abroad in his soul. ’Tis true, as he himself observed, he had a most dreadful conflict with death; for the malignant character of his disease was most tormenting to the animal frame ; and few men have been called to endure so much of excruciating bodily pain as that with which it pleased the Almighty to embitter the last moments of his life. But notwithstanding this, he never distrusted the constancy of God’s goodness, or indulged the most distant fear of his completeness in Christ. He more than once exclaimed, ‘I know in whom I have believed, and that he will keep that which I have committed unto him until that day. ‘For though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold him ; though my reins be consumed within me.’ Such were his triumphs over the grave.” He fell asleep in Jesus on the morning of Sept. 13th, 1839, in his 76th year.


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