About Samuel McGowan
Samuel McGowan (October 19, 1819 – August 9, 1897) was a general from South Carolina in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He commanded a brigade in A.P. Hill's famous "Light Division" and was wounded several times. Ezra Warner's book, Generals in Gray, claims that "McGowan's career and reputation were not excelled by any other brigade commander in the Army of Northern Virginia."
Born in the Laurens District of South Carolina, McGowan attended and graduated from South Carolina College in 1841, where he was a member of the Clariosophic Society. Subsequently, he studied law in Abbeville and was admitted to the bar. Prior to the Civil War, McGowan practiced law and served in state politics. He also served in the Mexican-American War with the Palmetto Rifles. He was commended for his gallantry near Mexico City and rose to the rank of staff captain.
At the First Battle of Bull Run, McGowan served on the staff of General Milledge Bonham. In 1862, McGowan was appointed as Colonel of the 14th South Carolina Infantry. This regiment was assigned to Maxcy Gregg's brigade in A.P. Hill's Light Division. After Gregg was killed in the Battle of Fredericksburg, McGowan was promoted to brigadier general (to rank from January 17, 1863) and took command of the Light Division's South Carolina brigade. Except for when wounded, McGowan commanded this brigade for the rest of the war, surrendering with it at Appomattox Court House.
McGowan was wounded four times during the Civil War. The first occurrence was at Cold Harbor during the Seven Days Battles on June 27, 1862, where he was bruised in the right side by canister. The second wound happened at Second Manassas when McGowan was hit in the thigh. McGowan suffered his worst wound at Chancellorsville. A Minié ball severely injured McGowan's leg below the knee. Although he kept the leg, it was not until February 1864 that he was able to return to field command. McGowan received his final wound at Spotsylvania where he was hit and suffered a minor wound to the forearm.
Returning to Abbeville after the war ended, McGowan was elected to Congress as a member of the Conservative Party of South Carolina, but refused his seat. He became a leader in the fight against "carpetbagger" rule in the state legislature. In 1879, McGowan was elected to the South Carolina supreme court as an associate justice. He held the position until 1893.
General McGowan died in Abbeville and was buried there in Long Cane Cemetery.
Hans Holzer's book Ghosts tells the story of contacting General Samuel McGowan in a story entitled "The Fifth Avenue Ghost." The story is based upon séances Holzer held between 11 July 1953 and 26 November 1953 at 226 Fifth Avenue in New York, and later at the medium's home.