Samuel McGowan, the son of Irish Presbyterian immigrants, was born in Laurens District, South Carolina, October 9, 1819. He was graduated from South Carolina College in 1841; he then studied law at Abbeville and was admitted to the bar the following year. He served for thirteen years in the state house of representatives, and was commended for gallantry in the Mexican War, during which he rose to the rank of staff captain. McGowan was a major general of militia in 1861 and commanded a brigade at the reduction of Fort Sumter in April of that year. In 1862 he was made colonel of the 14th South Carolina Infantry, and after the death of General Maxcy Gregg at Fredericksburg, was promoted brigadier general to rank from January 17, 1863. McGowan's career and reputation were not excelled by those of any other brigade commander in the Army of Northern Virginia. When not disabled by one or another of the four wounds which he sustained during the war, he participated with great gallantry in every engagement of the army from the Seven Days to Appomattox, where he was paroled. He returned to Abbeville at the close of hostilities, and was immediately elected to Congress, but was refused his seat. A leader in the fight against carpet bag rule, he was again elected to the legislature in 1878, and the year following an associate justice of the South Carolina supreme court, a position which he continued to occupy until 1893, when he was defeated for re-election by the efforts of "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman. General McGowan died at his home in Abbeville on August 9, 1897, and is buried in Long Cane Cemetery.
Ref: Generals in Gray, Lives of the Confederate Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Printed by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London.