2nd MINNESOTA VOLUNTEER CAVALRY
Organized: Fall/Winter 1863
Mustered In: January, 1864
Mustered Out: 5/4/66
The 2nd MN was organized during the fall of 1863 and winter, 1864. It was to be a one year regiment, but ended up serving for a much more lengthy period of time.
Following Federal muster in January, 1864 the 2nd engaged in garrison duty which was punctuated by occasional sorties in pursuit of wandering bands of Native American Indians.
In late May the regiment departed Ft. Snelling, Minnesota and moved to Ft. Ridgley near the Dakota Reservation in S.E. MN. Troops left there in early June to junction with other forces at Ft. Sully on the Missouri River.
During July, in the actions which ensued, the Indians were driven from their camp on Cannon Ball River and pursued to the Little Heart River where the 2nd did effective work in the battle of Tahkahokuty Mountain AKA as Killdeer Mountain.
Then came the early August, two day engagement known as the battle of the Little Missouri. The Yellowstone was reached on 8/13. Several slight engagements with the enemy followed.
The regiment returned to Ft. Ridgley on 10/8. Afterwards several companies were on garrison and patrol duty at forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ridgley and Ripley.
During the fall of 1865, elements of the 2nd were mustered out of Federal service as fast as regular army troopers could take their places. The final disbandment, however, did not occur until early May, 1866.
Officers Killed Or Mortally Wounded: 0; Officers Died Of Disease, Accidents, Etc.: 3; Enlisted Men Killed Or Mortally Wounded: 4; Enlisted Men Died Of Disease, Accidents, Etc.: 56.
Residence: Pleasant Grove Olmstead Co., MN Age: 24.8 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 12/24/63 Pleasant Grove Olmstead Co., MN Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 12/24/63 Pleasant Grove Olmstead Co, MN
Mustered Out: 5/4/66
Highest Rank: Pvt.
Rank At Discharge: Pvt.
Note: The birth - to - death biographical profile which follows was created in July, 2020 during the Covid 19 medical pandemic. Military, pension and other veteran-related files housed in Washington, D.C.'s National Archives were not accessible. As a result the life sketch does not contain the depth of detail found in other biographies found on this website. At a later time those files will be obtained and information contained therein will be added to the narrative.
William Steele was born 4/10/39 in England. His parents were William (b. 1812 Marks Tey Essex, England - d. unk.) and Mary M. (nee Ingraham b. 1810 Aldham Essex, England - d. unk.)
As best as can be determined, William was the fourth of six Steele children. Older than he were Mary Ann (b. 1830), Sarah (b. 1833) and Harriet (b. 1837). His younger siblings were Emma (b. 1856 Eng.) and Eller (b. 1849).
William came to America in 1856.Where he may have initially settled not known, but as of 1863 he was residing in end employed on a farm in Pleasant Grove Olmstead Co., MN. Jumping ahead, it was in Minnesota - in Cass County to be specific – that on 3/23/81 William applied for naturalized American citizenship.
On 12/2/63 William enlisted in the U.S. Army. His unit was the 2nd Minnesota Cavalry. Throughout its existence this regiment never fired a shot at Johnny Reb. Instead, it was kept busy battling and subduing Native American Indians in The Dakotas. In the early 1860s that was THE American "west."
Private Steele's period of military service proved lengthy. However, without access to his military service records we don't have any insight into possible ordeals he may have faced. All we know for certain is that he did survive and return to civilian life.
Like many Civil War veterans, where William alit when he returned home is not documented. Likely, though, in 1865 "home" was somewhere in Minnesota.
The first U.S. Census data on William comes from 1870. During that year he was employed in Sunrise Chicago Co., MN as a laborer on the farm of a Mr. S. Starkweather and family. Five years later, on 5/1/75 William was still in Minnesota, but by then residing in or near the Chicago community of Branch. This documental listing does not mention employment.
In 1877 William married. The date: September 16th. The place: Chicago, Illinois. The new Mrs. William Steele: Amelia L. Brown (b. 10/55 IL).
William and Amelia would produce six children, all six of whom were living in 1900. The Steele children were: Maud A. (b. 1879 MN), Marion "Mary" R. (b. 1881 Dakota Terr.), Myrtle "Myrtie" G. (b. 1882 Dakota Terr.), Ora Belle (b. 9/4 Dakota Terr.), Harry Vernon (b. 4/1/90 Seattle, WA) and Gordon W. (b.10/16/93 Seattle, WA).
Looking at the birth states of the Steele children, during their child producing/rearing years William and Amelia were moving westward. It appears that after their marriage the couple set up their home in Minnesota. Exactly where is not known, but as of 5/1/85 they were residing in Burlington Becker Co., MN. Maud (1879) was born in Minnesota.
Myrtle (1881), Marion (1882) and Ora (1885) came next. All three were birthed in the Dakotas. Exactly where: Unknown.
1890. Harry Vernon joined the family in Seattle, King Co., WA. Gordon W. brought up the end of the line in Seattle during 1893.
What had drawn the Steele's to the Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest is not documented. As of 1892 the family was residing in Green Lake, King Co., WA. The Green Lake area is now a neighborhood in north Seattle. How William may have been employed there in the early '90s is not known.
At the dawn of the twenty first century the Steele's were still in the Seattle area, but residing east of that city in or near the King County, Cascade Mountains foothills community of North Bend. In North Bend William was a farmer.
1900 was William's last U.S. Census. He died on 4/11/06 in Snohomish County near Bothell, WA. Cause of death was "Male paralysis cerebral meningitis". At his passing he was aged 67 years and 1 day. Burial was/is in Bothell King Co., WA's I.O.O.F. (Pioneer) Cemetery.
On 11/14/94 William had applied for a U.S. Government disability pension based on his days of Civil War soldiering. Such a stipend was granted, but details of the program will have to await the acquisition of former Private Steele's pension files.
William had died without a will, so as of August, 1906 widow Steele was in Snohomish County probate court seeking resolution on her and her late husband's estate. At the same time - August 8th - she was applying to the U.S. Government to receive at least a portion of her late husband's stipend. This was especially important since three of her children - Ora, Harry and Gordon - were still under the age of 16 and eligible for a U.S. Government subsidy. The conclusion of these two dramas will have to await the availability of pension documents.
As of 1910 Amelia was still residing in Snohomish County, buy by that time in the small, rural community of Lowell located north of Bothell on the south eastern outskirts of the city of Everett. In her home were sons Harry and Gordon.
Another decade. Another census. In 1920 the widow Steele remained in Lowell. Her youngest son, Gordon, was the head of the household. Also under her roof were two nieces.
Amelia Brown Steel died in 1923. As of this writing, no date of death is available. She was/is buried beside William in Bothell.
Buried at Bothell Pioneer Cemetery
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