Stephen C. Rowan and the 9th New York Regiment

Featured Characters – 1861-1862

Stephen C. Rowan

Courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress

Stephen Clegg Rowan was born on Christmas day in 1808 near Dublin, Ireland. He came to the United States when he was about ten years old and joined the U.S. Navy in 1826. He was promoted to lieutenant in March 1837 and then to commander in 1855 for his service in the Mexican War. As commander of the steam frigate Pawnee, he participated in the first naval engagement of the Civil War.  As second-in-command to Commodore Louis Malesherbes second-in-command to Commodore Louis Malesherbes Goldsborough, Rowan played a major role in Burnside’s Expedition.  Rowan personally led the forces that destroyed the Mosquito Fleet.  Promoted to captain, following Goldsborough’s return to Norfolk, Rowan acceded to command of the naval squadron operating in North Carolina’s coastal waters.  Commodore Rowan and the 9th New York Regiment led a small flotilla up the Chowan River to Winton (Hertford County) in an attempt to destroy railroad bridges. Upon arrival in Winton on February 19, 1862, Confederate infantry shelled the USS Delaware. The USS Commodore Perry in turn shelled the town. The following day, the town was shelled again, leaving several houses and a large amount of military provisions destroyed. He was rewarded for his offensive operations in the sounds of North Carolina with promotions to captain and commodore in July 1862 and given command of the Powhatan and New Ironsides, which he took to operate in Charleston, South Carolina and in the sounds of North Carolina. After the war, Rowan continued to serve in the U.S. Navy and led the U.S. Asiatic Squadron, was Superintendant of the Naval Observatory, and acted as Chairman of the Lighthouse Board before retiring from active service in April 1889. Vice Admiral Rowan died in Washington, D.C., on March 31, 1890.