Confederate general Daniel Chevilette Govan was born in Northampton County, North Carolina, on 4 July 1829. He was the son of Andrew Robison Govan, a former South Carolina congressman, and Mary Pugh Jones Govan. After a short time in Tennessee, the family settled near Holly Springs, Mississippi. After attending the University of South Carolina, Govan went to California with a party led by his cousin, future Confederate general Ben McCullough. McCullough became sheriff of Sacramento County, while Govan served as his deputy until his return to Mississippi in 1852. The following year he married Mary Otey, daughter of the Episcopal bishop of Tennessee, James Hervey Otey. The newlyweds moved to Arkansas, where they lived until Govan enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861. He recruited a company and became its captain.
After his company was attached to the 2nd Arkansas Regiment early in 1862, Govan became a colonel and led the regiment at Shiloh, the invasion of Kentucky, Murfreesboro, and Chickamauga. By that time, the 2nd Arkansas was so reduced by battle and disease that it and the 15th Arkansas were consolidated into a single regiment.
Govan was promoted to brigadier general in December 1863. His brigade, mostly of Arkansas troops, was part of Patrick Cleburne’s division. On 22 July 1864, during the Battle of Atlanta, Govan’s brigade captured the entire 16th Iowa Regiment. The following September, at the Battle of Jonesboro, Govan’s brigade was posted at the apex of a sharp angle of the Confederate lines. The brigade was overwhelmed and Govan and many of his men were captured. He was exchanged shortly thereafter for Brig. Gen. George Stoneman and returned to the army.
On 30 November 1864 at the Battle of Franklin, in Tennessee, Govan was wounded while his brigade was in the thick of the fighting that wrecked the Confederate Army of Tennessee. Govan and what was left of his unit later served with Lt. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston during the Carolinas Campaign and surrendered with him at Durham, North Carolina, on 26 April 1865. By that time, Govan’s brigade consisted of two consolidated regiments that comprised the remnants of twenty former regiments.
After the war, Govan returned to Arkansas. In 1883 he attended a reunion of the 16th Iowa and returned its flag. In 1894 Pres. Grover Cleveland appointed Govan to serve as Indian agent of the Tulalip Agency in Washington State, a post he held until 1898, when he returned east. Govan spent the rest of his life in Tennessee and Mississippi and died on 12 March 1911.
- David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, The Encyclopedia of the American Civil War (2000)
- William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography (1996)
- Daniel E. Sutherland, Arkansas Historical Quarterly (Autumn 1995)
- Craig L. Symonds, Stonewall of the West (1997)
- Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Gray: The Lives of the Confederate Commanders (1959)
- US War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (1901)