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A Memorial to Pvt. Thomas C. Steele CSA

Pvt. Thomas C. Steele
1st. Arkansas Mounted Rifles

Thomas was born in 1838 in Spring Hill, Johnson County, Arkansas the ninth child of thirteen children of John Steele and Elizabeth Ray.
He was united in marriage to Mary Jane Blaylock on 21 Sept. 1857 at her parents home in Franklin County, Arkansas.

At age 23 Thomas left his farm, his wife and three small children at Ozark, Arkansas and on 31 Oct. 1861 joined at Camp Sevier, Arkansas, Capt. Ramsaur's Company, 1st. Mounted Reiment Arkansas Volunteers also known as CO. "D" 1st. Regt. Arkansas Mounted Rifles.

He served under Captain Gibbs and went to Corinth, Mississippi by order of General Van Dorn and was with Capt. Campbell's Company until June 1862
In July Thomas was reported "sick east of the Mississippi River" and hospitalized at Chattanooga, Tennessee for two months. From November 1862 to February 1863 he was absent from his Company, detailed in the hospital at Murfreesboro. He was paid for services rendered there and was offered $50.00 (bounty) to stay in the armed services, which he did.

The next two months Thomas was with Company D. 1st. Regiment Arkansas Mounted Rifles until captured at the Battle of Chicamauga, Georgia on 19th Sept. 1863. He was sent to Louisville, Kentucky on 30 Sept. 1863. On 2nd Oct. 1863 he was transferred to Camp Douglas Military Prison in Chicago, Illinois. There he was held until the end of the war and was discharged 20 June 1865.

Thomas suffered greatly while in prison. The scaricty of food, extreme cold and lack of sanitation wouuld follow him through out the rest of his life.

When Thomas was discharged he returned to Franklin County and his family.
In the spring of 1877 Thomas with his wife and six children, Sarah Ann, William Edwin, Emily Louella, Martha Jane, Naomi, and Lillian Mae, packed up and joined a small wagon train headed for Oregon. The trip took six months. They arrived in the John Day Valley in Grant County, The first snows were falling!
April 30, 1878, at 40 years of age, Thomas Carter Steele died of TB which he contracted while a prisoner of war. He was buried near Prairie City, Grant County, Oregon.

Pvt. Thomas Carter Steele, through the efforts of Vivian Zimmerlee, a great Grandaughter, was honored for his service in the Confederate Army. Vivian had contacted the Varina Howell Davis Chapter # 2369, United Daughters of the Confederacy; and Capt. F.M. Jackson Camp # 1778, Sons of Confederate Veterans. Things came to a climax on 23 June 2001, a memorial service was held to honor the Private and his wifeMary Jane.
Members of the Steele family;The Grant County Genealogical Society ;the Varina Howell Davis Chapter; Capt. F. M. Jackson Camp and friends of the family gathered at Prairie City Cemetery to celebrate the life of one of their own.

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page updated 5 July 2001