Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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ROWAN, Stephen Clegg', naval officer, born near Dublin, Ireland, 25 December, 1808. He came to this country in early life, and was appointed midshipman in the navy from Ohio, 15 February, 1826, when he was a student at Oxford college. He became passed midshipman, 28 February, 1832, and during the Seminole war cruised in the sloop " Vandalia" on the west coast of Florida, conducting boat expeditions and participating in operations on shore from November, 1832. till October. 1836. He was commissioned as lieutenant, 8 March, 1837, served in the coast survey in 1838-'40, was executive of-fleer of the sloop " Cyane " in the Pacific squadron in 1846-'8, and during the Mexican war took part in the capture of Monterey and San Diego, where he landed and hoisted the American flag, 29 July, 1846. On blockade duty in the Gulf of California the " Cyane" captured twenty Mexican vessels and, caused the destruction of several gun-boats. Lieutenant Rowan commanded the naval brigade under Commander Robert F. Stockton at the victories of San Gabriel and La Mesa, 9 and 10 January, 1847, was slightly wounded in the shoulder, and highly commended for his valor and ability. He subsequently commanded an expedition ten miles into the interior of Mexico, where he routed a large force of Mexicans, who then ceased to attack the United States naval garrison, tie was on ordnance duty in 1850-'3 and again in 1858-'61, commanded the store-ship " Relief" in 1853-'5, and was promoted to commander, 14 September, 1855. When the civil war opened he was in charge of the steam sloop "Pawnee," which he brought to Washington from Philadelphia in February, 1861. Rowan was a resident of Norfolk, Virginia, where he had married, but, notwithstanding this and his affection to the south, he announced his adhesion to the National government, and was continued in the command of the "Pawnee." At the capture of Alexandria he covered the city with his guns. On 25 May, 1861, he took the " Pawnee" to Acquia creek and participated in the first naval engagement of the war by the attack on the Confederate batteries there. He commanded this vessel in the bombardment and capture of the forts at Hatter-as inlet by the squadron under Commander Stringham, and fully shared the honor of this success. Rowan then destroyed Fort Ocracoke, twenty miles south of Hatteras. In January, 1862, he led the vessels in Goldsborough's expedition to the sounds of North Carolina. The" Delaware" was his divisional flag-ship, and, in the attack on Roanoke island, 8 February, 1862, he directed the movements of the vessels. After the forts surrendered, the enemy's flotilla was pursued by Rowan with fourteen improvised gun-boats into Pasquotank river, where he completely destroyed the Confederate vessels and defences. Several expeditions were conducted by Rowan through the sounds of North Carolina On 12 March, 1862, he and General Burnside co-operated in the expedition to New Berne, North Carolina, where he compelled the forts t, o capitulate. He also captured Fort Macon at Beaufort, North Carolina, 25 April, 1862, and continued to follow up his successes by expeditions until the authority of the government was completely re-established in the waters of North Carolina. Rowan was commissioned captain, 16 July, 1862, and for his conspicuous gallantry he was also promoted to commodore on the same day. He next commanded the "New Ironsides" off Charleston, and in many months of constant conflict with the enemy increased his reputation. In the spring of 1864 his services in the "New Ironsides" were no longer required, and Rowan was relieved. He received a vote of thanks from congress, and on 25 July, 1866, was promoted to rear-admiral by selection, in recognition of his eminent services. He commanded the Norfolk navy-yard in 1866-'7, was commander-in-chief of the Asiatic squadron in 1868-'70, and while on this duty was promoted to vice-admiral. He was in command of the naval station at New York in 1872-'9, served as president of the board of examiners in 1879-'81, was governor of the Naval asylum at Philadelphia in 1881, and became superintendent of the Naval observatory in 1882. Admiral Rowan has been chairman of the light-house board since January, 1883, at Washington, D. C.
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