Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Meet the Generals: William Rueben Rowley, Local Politician
General William Rowley was born on February 8, 1824 in St. Lawrence County, New York. After teaching in Brown County, Ohio, Rowley moved to Galena in 1843 to continue teaching. Following his teaching career, Rowley held numerous local political offices. These offices include Assessor and Collector, Deputy City Clerk, Sheriff, and Circuit Clerk.
During the war, Rowley was originally comissioned as 1st Lieutenant in Company D of the 45th Illinois Infantry in November of 1861. Four months later, in February of 1862, Rowley was promoted Captain and Aide-de-Camp on the staff of U.S. Grant. He distinguished himself at Shiloh by riding from the thickest of the fight at the Hornet's Nest toward Crump's Landing with orders to General Lewis Wallace to bring his troops to the field, for which service he was promoted major, November 1st, 1862. He served on the staff until the siege of Vicksburg, when he was temporarily detached from headquarters, and acted as provost-marshal-general of the departments of the Tennessee and Cumberland, with headquarters at Columbus, Kentucky. When General Grant was promoted lieutenant-general, Major Rowley was made lieutenant-colonel and military secretary on his staff, which office he held until 30 August, 1864, when he resigned, owing to impaired health. He was brevetted brigadier-general of volunteers on 13 March, 1865.
Following the war, Rowley resumed his post as Jo Daviess County Clerk until 1876. Following his career as County Clerk, Rowley was elected county judge which he held until his death on February 9, 1886, a day following his 62nd birthday. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Galena, IL.