The English-born Rowett entered the war as captain of Company K of the 7th Illinois Infantry Regiment, which is considered the first unit from Illinois to answer President Abraham Lincoln's call for volunteers. Colonel Rowett fought with distinction at the battles of Fort Donelson, Shiloh, and Corinth and fought against Confederate guerillas in northern Alabama at war's midpoint. His most notable service came at the Battle of Allatoona in Georgia on Oct. 5, 1864, when he led the defense of a pivotal Union supply depot. When the war ended he was brevetted Brigadier General of United States Volunteers.
After the war, Rowett returned to his adopted home of Carlinville, Illinois and established himself as a nationally recognized breeder of thoroughbred horses at his farm, The Meadows, one mile north of town. The Rowett colors of orange jacket and blue cap were known across Western and Southern tracks, but his outstanding production at The Meadows was Spokane, the winner of the 1889 Kentucky Derby.
Rowett is also credited by many as the first to introduce the true-bred beagle hound to America from his native England. The Rowett strain of beagles was recognized as a leader in the field of beagling around the turn of the century. Rowett was also one of three men who drafted the first-ever beagle standard for bench and show judging in 1884.
A one-term member of the Illinois House, Rowett held several statewide appointive posts and was a vocal member of the Illinois Republican party. But his health began to fail in his later years, and he died suddenly at Washington Park (Chicago) on July 13, 1887.
- Emery, Tom. Richard Rowett: thoroughbreds, beagles, and the Civil War. Carlinville, IL: History in Print, 1997. ISBN 0966163702
- Roger D. Hunt and Jack R. Brown. Brevet brigadier generals in blue. Gaithersburg, Md.: Olde Soldier Books, 1990.
- Tom Emery. 2014 is 125th Anniversary of Macoupin County’s Kentucky Derby winner, The BenGil Post, March 3, 2014.
- Steven Spearie. Carlinville Civil War hero also known for dogs, horses, The State-Journal Register, December 3, 2016.
- DIED IN HIS STABLE.; THE SUDDEN DEATH OF GEN. RICHARD ROWETT, The New York Times, July 14, 1887.