Frederick Steele

Frederick Steele

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Frederick Steele was a career military officer in the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

, serving as a major general
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 in the Union Army
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. He was most noted for his successful campaign to retake much of secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

ist Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

 for the Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...


Early life

Steele was born in Delhi, New York
Delhi (town), New York
Delhi is a town in Delaware County, New York, USA. The population was 4,629 at the 2000 census.The Town of Delhi is in the east-central part of the county. The State University of New York at Delhi is located in this town, which contains the Village of Delhi...

. He was an 1843 graduate of West Point
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

, and later served in the Mexican-American War, where he participated in many engagements. Steele was meritoriously mentioned for distinguished bravery, and was promoted to first lieutenant in June 1848. He served in California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 during the Yuma War
Yuma War
The Yuma War was the name given to a series of United States military operations conducted in southern California and what is today southwestern Arizona from 1850 to 1853. The Yumans were the primary opponent of the United States Army, though engagements were fought between the Americans and other...

 until 1853, and then principally in Minnesota Territory
Minnesota Territory
The Territory of Minnesota was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 3, 1849, until May 11, 1858, when the eastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Minnesota.-History:...

, Kansas Territory
Kansas Territory
The Territory of Kansas was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 30, 1854, until January 29, 1861, when the eastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Kansas....

, and Nebraska Territory
Nebraska Territory
The Territory of Nebraska was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 30, 1854, until March 1, 1867, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Nebraska. The Nebraska Territory was created by the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854...

 until the Civil War, receiving his captain's commission on February 5, 1855.

Civil War

On May 14, 1861, Steele was appointed major
Major (United States)
In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, major is a field grade military officer rank just above the rank of captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel...

 in the 11th U.S. Infantry and fought at the Battle of Wilson's Creek
Battle of Wilson's Creek
The Battle of Wilson's Creek, also known as the Battle of Oak Hills, was fought on August 10, 1861, near Springfield, Missouri, between Union forces and the Missouri State Guard, early in the American Civil War. It was the first major battle of the war west of the Mississippi River and is sometimes...

. On September 23, 1861, he became colonel
Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, colonel is a senior field grade military officer rank just above the rank of lieutenant colonel and just below the rank of brigadier general...

 of the 8th Iowa Infantry
8th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment
The 8th Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry was an infantry regiment that served in the Union Army during the American Civil War.-Service:The 8th Iowa Infantry was organized at Davenport, Iowa and mustered into Federal service between August 31 and September 4, 1861.The regiment was mustered out on...

. On January 29, 1862, Steele was appointed brigadier general of U.S. volunteers. He commanded the District of Southeast Missouri, but following the Union victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge
Battle of Pea Ridge
The Battle of Pea Ridge was a land battle of the American Civil War, fought on March 6–8, 1862, at Pea Ridge in northwest Arkansas, near Garfield. In the battle, Union forces led by Brig. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis defeated Confederate troops under Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn. The outcome of the...

 he took command of the 1st Division in the Army of the Southwest
Army of the Southwest
The Army of the Southwest was a Union Army that served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. This force was also known as the Army of Southwest Missouri.-Army of the Southwest:...

 and briefly commanded the army from August 29 to October 7, 1862. In April 1863 he was promoted to major general of volunteers, effective November 29, 1862.

Steele's division was transferred to the Army of the Tennessee
Army of the Tennessee
The Army of the Tennessee was a Union army in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, named for the Tennessee River. It should not be confused with the similarly named Army of Tennessee, a Confederate army named after the State of Tennessee....

 becoming the 11th Division in the XIII Corps
XIII Corps (ACW)
XIII Corps was a corps of the Union Army during the American Civil War. It was first led by Ulysses S. Grant and later by John A. McClernand and Edward O.C. Ord...

. He fought at the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou
Battle of Chickasaw Bayou
The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou, also called Walnut Hills, fought December 26–29, 1862, was the opening engagement of the Vicksburg Campaign during the American Civil War. Confederate forces under Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton repulsed an advance by Union Maj. Gen. William T...

 in December 1862 and in the Battle of Arkansas Post in January 1863. His division was renamed the 1st Division in Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's XV Corps
XV Corps (ACW)
The XV Army Corps was a corps of the Union Army during the American Civil War. It served in the Army of the Tennessee under Maj. Gens. Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman. It was commanded by Sherman in the Siege of Vicksburg and then by Maj. Gen. John A. Logan in Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. ...

 during the Siege of Vicksburg.

On August 26, 1863, after the fall of Vicksburg, Steele received a brevet promotion to colonel in the U.S. Army. On July 27, 1863, he was placed in command of the Army of Arkansas
Army of Arkansas
The Army of Arkansas was a Union Army that served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. This force functioned exclusively in the state of Arkansas.-History:...

. His army successfully captured Confederate-held
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 Little Rock
Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock is the capital and the largest city of the U.S. state of Arkansas. The Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 699,757 people in the 2010 census...

 in September 1863 and subsequently pushed official Union boundaries south through the state. He was assigned command of VII Corps
VII Corps (ACW)
Two corps of the Union Army were called VII Corps during the American Civil War.-VII Corps :This corps was established 22 July 1862 from various Union troops stationed in southeastern Virginia. The corps' main combat action occurred in the spring of 1863, when it faced Confederate troops of James...

 in the Department of Arkansas in the Trans-Mississippi Theater, holding command from January 6, 1864, to December 22, 1864. On March 23, 1864, Steele began his march with eight thousand soldiers from Little Rock south to Arkadelphia
Arkadelphia, Arkansas
Arkadelphia is a city in Clark County, Arkansas, United States. According to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 10,548. The city is the county seat of Clark County. The city is situated at the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. Two universities, Henderson State...

, where he was joined by John M. Thayer, who commanded another four thousand troops.
Steele then led the ill-fated Camden Expedition
Camden Expedition
The Camden Expedition was a military campaign in southern and central Arkansas during the American Civil War. It involved Union forces stationed at Little Rock and Fort Smith under the command of Major General Frederick Steele...

 in the spring of 1864, considered by many in the War Department
United States Department of War
The United States Department of War, also called the War Department , was the United States Cabinet department originally responsible for the operation and maintenance of the United States Army...

 as the greatest Federal military disaster of the Civil War in Arkansas.

Steele led a force of African American soldiers, officially designated the "Column from Pensacola", in Maj. Gen. Edward Canby
Edward Canby
Edward Richard Sprigg Canby was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War, Reconstruction era, and the Indian Wars...

's Army of West Mississippi
Army of West Mississippi
The Army of West Mississippi was a Union army that served in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. It was virtually the same force as the Army of the Gulf, but was renamed when it became a part of the Military Division of West Mississippi, in the Department of the Gulf commanded by Maj....

. His troops fought at the battles of Spanish Fort
Battle of Spanish Fort
The Battle of Spanish Fort took place from March 27 to April 8, 1865 in Baldwin County, Alabama, as part of the Mobile Campaign of the Western Theater of the American Civil War....

 and Fort Blakely
Battle of Fort Blakely
-Sources:**-External links:*...

. At the close of the war, he received the brevet
Brevet (military)
In many of the world's military establishments, brevet referred to a warrant authorizing a commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily, but usually without receiving the pay of that higher rank except when actually serving in that role. An officer so promoted may be referred to as being...

 rank of brigadier general, regular army, for services in the capture of Little Rock, and that of major general for services during the war.

Postbellum career

Steele was transferred to Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 in June 1865 and placed in command of United States forces along the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

. He subsequently commanded the Department of the Columbia from December 1865 until November 1867, when he took a leave of absence for health reasons. He died two months later in San Mateo, California
San Mateo, California
San Mateo is a city in San Mateo County, California, United States, in the San Francisco Bay Area. With a population of approximately 100,000 , it is one of the larger suburbs on the San Francisco Peninsula, located between Burlingame to the north, Foster City to the east, Belmont to the south,...


A monument to Steele stands on the Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg National Military Park preserves the site of the American Civil War Battle of Vicksburg, waged from May 18 to July 4, 1863. The park, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Delta, Louisiana, also commemorates the greater Vicksburg Campaign, which preceded the battle. Reconstructed forts and...


See also

  • List of American Civil War generals

External links