Skip Navigation

Sign In or Register


SharePrint Andrew S. Rowan


Andrew Summers Rowan (April 23, 1857-January 10, 1943) was famous for carrying a message from the American president to a Cuban rebel general. He was born in Gap Mills, Monroe County. In 1898, when the U.S. faced war with Spain, President William McKinley needed to contact Cuban Gen. Calixto Garcia for military intelligence. Rowan, a lieutenant in the 19th U.S. Infantry, was chosen as the messenger.

From Jamaica, Rowan sailed in a small fishing boat across 100 miles of open sea to Cuba. His party then hacked its way through dense jungle to avoid Spanish patrols on the roads and trails. He delivered the message to Garcia. He left the same day to make the perilous trip back to the U.S. with some of Garcia’s officers, crossing hostile waters in a boat with gunnysacks for sails. Later, Rowan was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross. Cuba’s government gave him its highest honor, the Order of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes.

The incident became famous when Elbert Hubbard sold millions of copies of his 1899 pamphlet, A Message to Garcia. The pamphlet which lauded Rowan as an example to young men who needed ‘‘a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies, do the thing—carry a message to Garcia.’’ Rowan was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

This Article was written by Belinda Anderson

Last Revised on December 08, 2015


Motley, Charles B. Gleanings of Monroe County. Radford, VA: Commonwealth Press, 1973.

Rowan, Andrew Summers. How I Carried the Message to Garcia. San Francisco: W. D. Harney, 1922.

Hubbard, Elbert. A Message to Garcia. , 1899.

Cite This Article

Anderson, Belinda "Andrew S. Rowan." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 08 December 2015. Web. 18 June 2024.


So far, this article has 1 comment.

West Virginia Humanities Council | 1310 Kanawha Blvd E | Charleston, WV 25301 Ph. 304-346-8500 | © 2024 All Rights Reserved

About e-WV | Our Sponsors | Help & Support | Contact Us The essential guide to the Mountain State can be yours today! Click here to order.