(1808-90) Born near Dublin, Ireland. Appointed a midshipman in the U.S. Navy in 1826. His initial cruise was made on the Vincennes, which, between 1827 and 1830, under Commander Bolton, was the first U.S. Man-O-War to circumnavigate the globe. In 1837, he was commissioned lieutenant. He participated actively in the naval operations of the Mexican War; aided in the capture of Monterey and San Diego; served under Stockton at the battle of the Mesa, where he was wounded; led a night attack on the outposts of Mazalan; was present at the bombardment of Guaymas, and captured twenty blockade runners and destroyed a number of gunboats in the Gulf of California. During 1850-53 he was on duty as inspector of ordnance, and organized that department in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He was promoted to commander on September 14, 1855. In January 1861, he was given command of the steamship Pawnee, which he took from Philadelphia to Washington, and when the Civil War broke out he declared his allegiance to the Federal government. For a time the Pawnee was the principal naval protection of the Union capitol city, and by order of General Winfield Scott, he covered the landing of Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth's command at Alexandria, Va. On May 25, 1861, Rowan, as commander of the Pawnee, attacked the Confederate forces erecting batteries at Acquia Creek, Va., but hauled off after being struck nine times. He accompanied the expedition under Commander Silas H. Stringham which captured the forts and garrisons at Hatteras Inlet, N.C. He then successively commanded the Brooklyn and the Delaware. On February 7, 1862, under Commodore Louis M. Goldsborough, he led a naval flotilla to the sounds of North Carolina, and on the following day took a leading part in the capture of Roanoke Island. On February 9th, he was ordered to pursue the fleeing Confederates into Albemarle Sound, and on February 10th, destroyed their works and captured their fleet. He also passed up the Pasquotank River, took possession of Elizabeth City and Edenton, and effectively obstructed the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal. He conducted several other expeditions for the subjugation of the North Carolina coast, and when Goldsborough returned to Hampton Roads succeeded him in command of the fleet. On February 10, 1862, Commander Rowan co-operated with General Ambrose E. Burnside in the capture of Winston, on March 12th in the capture of Newbern, and on April 25th in the capture of Beaufort. Rowan received the Thanks of Congress for his actions, and on July 16, 1862, was promoted to captain. As a reward for his distinguished gallantry he was also promoted to commodore to rank from that same date. When Admiral Dahlgren took command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Rowan was given the command of the New Ironsides, which was under fire fourteen times in Charleston Harbor, and was struck 133 times. In early 1864, Rowan assumed command of the squadron in the absence of Admiral Dahlgren. He was promoted to rank of rear admiral, on July 25, 1866, and in 1866-67, was commandant of the Norfolk Navy Yard. From 1868-70, he was in command of the Asiatic Squadron. Promoted to vice admiral in 1870, he was commandant of the New York Navy Yard, 1872-79; president of the board of naval examiners, 1879-81; governor of the naval observatory in 1882; and chairman of the light house board in 1883.
Signature with Rank and Date: 3 x 2, in ink, Report to Capt. [Daniel L.] Braine, S.C. Rowan, Vice Admr., Jany. 30/74. Light staining.