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[image ALT: A head-and‑shoulders photograph of a man in early middle age, with a square face and a drooping moustache, in the plain tunic of a 19c United States Army officer, of which his left epaulet is visible; the low‑rising collar bears the letters 'U. S.' He is Hamilton Rowan, a West Point graduate and military officer, whose career is detailed on this webpage.]

Captain Hamilton Rowan

The preceding image, and the text that follows, are reproduced from (the report of the) Forty-Ninth Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 11th, 1918.

 p71  Hamilton Rowan
No. 2640. Class of 1876.
Died December 24, 1917, at Washington, D. C., aged 62.

All who knew this dear soul felt that something pure and noble and genial and uplifting had passed out of their lives when information of his death came to them. It was the writer's privilege to have known him quite intimately for many years. The beauty of his  p72 character, the inspiration of his ethical and religious attributes, the merriness of his light-hearted, jovial, fun‑seeking and fun‑making nature, made his presence always a strength and a joy. The twinkle of his eye, the infectious, half-suppressed laugh, his witty and amusing anecdotes and recital of experiences will live happily in the memory of his comrades and companions. He was not only respected for his high spiritual virtues and manliness, but was beloved for his sweet gentleness and genial heart-to‑heart attitude in the informal relation of life. On duty in the command of troops, on Board or Court-martial duty, he compelled a high estimate of his character and ability. When telling some amusing story behind the curling smoke of his inseparable pipe, he was the very personification of good fellowship, an entity that pulled one closely and tied tightly heartstrings in devoted friendship. All these characteristics stood out in special relief during the trials of his last long painful sickness. It will always be a mystery how one who suffered as he did, could through it all, preserve so completely his old‑time characteristic light-heartedness.

He was the son of the late Vice Admiral Stephen Clegg Rowan, United States Navy, and Mary Bassett Start Rowan. He was born April 25, 1855, at Fort Wayne, Indiana. His under-graduate education was at St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire, and at Colonel Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Symonds'º School, at Sing Sing, New York, preparatory to going to West Point.

After graduating at West Point, he was assigned to the Sixth Infantry and served at Standing Rock, Indian Agency. He enjoyed this service among the Indians and made a special effort to study their ways and habits and customs. Having marked skill as an artist, he sketched and painted portraits of some of the prominent Indians at that Agency. He mingled much with the Indians, enjoyed their confidence and developed very strong friendships among them.

Notwithstanding the fact that he was wholly satisfied with his life and duty in the Infantry, to please his father, he consented to a transfer to the 2nd Regiment of Artillery, in the fall of 1876. The Admiral was growing old and wished his son might be in a branch of the service where he could from time to time see him, and Hamilton felt he should sacrifice his personal preferences, in such a situation, to his father's wishes.

He was most happily married in February, 1881, to Miss Elizabeth Hamilton Simpson, daughter of General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.M. D. L. Simpson, United States Army. His wife survives him.

Three sons were born, Stephen Clegg Rowan, Hamilton Rowan, Jr., and Hugh Williamson Rowan. Stephen and Hugh survive. Hamilton Jr., died in infancy. Stephen graduated with honors from  p73 the United States Naval Academy, in the Class of 1903. He has a record of the highest character for efficiency in the Navy, and has always had important duty assignments. Hugh made a special study of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When the U. S. engaged in war with Germany Hugh entered the Coast Artillery as a Second Lieutenant, was transferred to the Chemical Service, promoted to Captain and assigned as Divisional Gas Officer of the 89th Division, American Expeditionary Forces.

Rowan had great mechanical talent, and during his service in the Artillery had frequent opportunity to apply it. He contributed valuable papers on the care and preservation of Coast Artillery material and the use of mechanical appliances. During the Coast Defense maneuvers of 1903, he invented, constructed and installed at Fort Levett, Maine, a Battery Commander's periscope, which was subsequently quite generally used in the Coast Artillery service. To the last he maintained his interest in the mechanical details connected with the service of Coast Artillery.

His wife, in a note to the writer, says: "The most noticeable traits of his character were his deep religious feeling, strong attachment to family life, keen sense of humor and love of fun, which he retained to the very last, and his great interest in the scientific development of the Coast Artillery."

One cannot write thus about Hamilton Rowan without mentioning the beauty of his home life and the ideal domestic relations existing between himself and the members of his family. The mutual devotion between him and the wife and sons was like a beautiful poem. For many years Mrs. Rowan was an invalid and Hamilton had no thought but what was subordinate to her comfort and her welfare. At the last the wife and sons did all that love could prompt and eager hands could do to relieve his suffering and ease his way to the River's bank.

To those who believe in the doctrines of Christianity, the passing of Hamilton Rowan to the other side, among those "loyal hearts and true" who were friends and comrades here in life, adds a factor of attractiveness to the re‑union which awaits over there.

He is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, D. C., beside his father.

Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.E. M. Weaver


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Page updated: 26 Dec 14