David Watson Rowe was called "Watson" and he was born on November 12, 1836 in Greencastle, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, the oldest child (of eight) of John Rowe, Jr. and Elizabeth Watson Prather Rowe. He served in the Civil War, along with his younger brother Gilmore, and fought at the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. He kept a diary in 1863 during the war. Watson Rowe studied law and became a judge. He married Ann Elizabeth Fletcher on August 5, 1862; she was the sister of his sister Martha Ellen's husband, Lewis Henry Fletcher. He and Annie had no children but he took a great interest in his nieces and nephews.
The following is a copy of a memorial circular written and published by the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Commandery of the State of Pennsylvania:
In Memoriam -- David Watson Rowe -- Lieut.-Colonel 126th Pennsylvania Infantry -- died at Chambersburg, Pa. July 15, 1913
Circular No. 22 -- Philadelphia, October 4, 1913
Series of 1913
Whole No. 776
DAVID WATSON ROWE
Sergeant-Major 2d Pennsylvania Infantry April 20, 1861; discharged for promotion May 10, 1861
First Lieutenant 2d Pennsylvania Infantry May 10, 1861; honorably discharged July 26, 1861
Captain 126th Pennsylvania Infantry August 8, 1862
Lieut.-Colonel August 13, 1862; honorably discharged May 20, 1863
Elected February 15, 1911. Class I. Insignia 16455.
Born November 12, 1836, at Greencastle, Pa.
Died July 15, 1913, at Chambersburg, Pa.
Companion David Watson Rowe, was the son of John and Elizabeth (Prather) Rowe. He was educated in the schools of Greencastle where he was prepared for college. He entered Marshall College, Mercersburg, in 1851, and went with the institution to Lancaster upon consolidation of Franklin and Marshall in 1853. He left college in his junior year to begin the study of law and was admitted to the Franklin Co. Bar August 15, 1857. Although he left college before being graduated, he was honored with the degree of A.M. by Franklin and Marshall in 1867. After being admitted to the bar he began the practice of his profession at Chambersburg, where he was engaged at the outbreak of the War of the Rebellion. He responded to President Lincoln's first call for troops, enlisting as a private in Co. C, 2nd Penna. Infantry. A week later he was made sergeant-major of the regiment and was promoted to first lieutenant Co. C a few weeks later, serving until the expiration of his term of enlistment.
When the 126th Penna. Infantry was organized, he recruited Co. K of which he was commissioned captain, August 8, 1862. Commissioned lieutenant-colonel August 13, 1862, and served until the expiration of his term, May 20, 1863. He was at Antietam, and in the battle of Fredericksburg December 13, 1862, his regiment formed a part of Tyler's Brigade, Humphreys' Division, and was in the thickest of the fight when the attempt was made to carry the crest of Marye's Heights, a charge believed by many to far overshadow in point of bravery on the part of the assaulting forces, the famous charge by Longstreet's column at Gettysburg. The command was "Charge bayonet, officers twelve paces in front." The advance of Col. Rowe's regiment was made over the prostrate line of the last charging column, up to within a few feet of the stone wall where the enemy lay. There it was met by a sheet of flame from the fatal wall. Col. Elder fell severely wounded at the head of his men while heroically urging them on at the farthest point of the charge. The command then devolved upon Lieut.-Colonel Rowe, under whose skillful leadership the fruitless struggle was maintained until it was seen that further sacrifice was useless, when in obedience to orders he brought his shattered regiment off the field.
On the field of Chancellorsville, the enemy having turned the Union right, pressed upon the unprotected flank occupied for the time by Tyler's Brigade, to which Col. Rowe's regiment belonged, and passed around to the rear threatened it with capture. Thus outflanked the regiment was forced to retire, but not until all ammunition that the men carried had been exhausted. Col. Rowe was severely wounded, being hit in the cheek by a rifle ball. Gen. Tyler, in his official report of the battle, says: "The 126th, Lieut.-Colonel Rowe, was third in line, and for the earnest, spirited work they could not be excelled. Col. Rowe exhibited the true characteristics for a soldier, brave, cool and determined, and his spirit was infused into every officer and soldier in his command."
After his return to civil life he resumed the practice of his profession until 1868, when at the age of thirty-one he was commissioned by Gov. Geary additional Law Judge of the 16th Judicial District, comprising the counties of Franklin, Fulton, Bedford, and Somerest. In the autumn of the same year he was elected for the full term of ten years. In 1874 the 39th Judicial District was formed, comprising the counties of Franklin and Fulton, of which he became President Judge. He was re-elected in 1878 for a second term of ten years. He retired in January, 1889, after having served twenty-one years. After leaving the bench he resumed his place at the bar. In 1905 Gov. Pennypacker appointed him in a vacancy in the Franklin Co. Court. He served for six months and then resumed the practice of law which he continued until the time of this death. He was past Commander of Housan Post No. 309, G.A.R.
No man was ever more gentlemanly in all the vicissitudes of life than Judge Rowe. No difference how trying were the times in war or court he always remained the same courtly gentleman. In his long record as President Judge he was never known to lose his temper or say an unkind word. Always firm and decided in his convictions he never hesitated to express his views, but this was always done with a gentlemanly consideration for the feelings of others. In every respect he was a gentleman of the old school, such a man as all could but love and admire.
Honored and respected by all classes, as brave as a lion and as gentle as a child, his death came too soon.
William B. Dixon.
John H. Pomeroy.
By command of Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel James W. Latta, U.S.V., Commander
John P. Nicholson, Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, U.S.V., Recorder