Peter Hess was born in 1831, in Nassau, Germany (?).
Peter immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in western Michigan where by 1860 he was working as a cooper and boarding at the Ohio House in Grand Rapids.
He was 30 years old and probably still living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted as Sixth Corporal in Company C on May 13, 1861. (Company C was made up largely of German and Dutch immigrants, many of whom lived on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. This company was the descendant of the old Grand Rapids Rifles, also known as the “German Rifles,” a prewar local militia company composed solely of German troopers.)
Peter was either a deserter on June 30, or missing in action on July 1, 1862, “in front of Richmond,” probably at White Oak Swamp. Peter returned to the Regiment on February 1, 1863, at Camp Pitcher, Virginia, and was wounded in the left arm on May 3, 1863, at Chancellorsville, Virginia. He was subsequently hospitalized in May and June, and according to one source by early May he was at Campbell hospital in Washington, DC, recovering from wounds. He eventually recovered and in July he was a provost guard. Peter allegedly deserted on either July 14 or 30, 1863, at Washington, DC.
He apparently returned to the Regiment, however, and was transferred to the Fifty-fourth company, First Battalion, Veterans’ Reserve Corps on September 1, 1863. (The VRC was made up of men who while ambulatory were generally incapable of performing regular military tasks due to having suffered debilitating wounds and/or diseases and were assigned to garrison the many supply depots, draft rendezvous, camps, forts, prisons, etc. scattered throughout the northern cities, thus freeing able-bodied men for regular military duty.)
In 1864 Peter applied for and received a pension (no. 33652).
It is possible that Peter returned to Michigan after his discharge from the army and may have been the same civil war veteran named Peter Hess who was residing in Detroit’s First ward in 1894.