Theodore F. Peterson was born in 1844 in Michigan, the son of John G. (1807-1863) and Jane Ann (b. 1809)
John left his home in New York and moved west, eventually settling in Michigan where he married Jane sometime before 1834. By 1850 Theodore was attending school with his two older brothers and living in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County where his father worked as a carpenter. By 1860 Theodore was a farm laborer living with his family in Ada, Kent County, where his father worked as a carpenter.
Theodore was 17 years old and probably still living in Ada when he enlisted with his parents’ consent in Company A on May 13, 1861. Theodore was described by George Miller of Company A, a tentmate in the winter of 1861-62, as “a very wild boy, but good hearted.” He was wounded in the shoulder on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run, and hospitalized soon afterwards. He was eventually transferred to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and by late July of 1863 was in the Christian Street hospital in Philadelphia, “wounded in the shoulder severely, but doing pretty well.”
However he died of pneumonia on August 22, 1863, at West Philadelphia hospital, Philadelphia, and was buried in Philadelphia National Cemetery: section B, grave 10.
His family’s suffering did not stop with Theodore’s death, however. In late October of 1863, the Grand Rapids Eagle reported the death of his father John on October 10; the funeral to be held in Ada on October 17.
Our readers will remember [wrote the Eagle on November 11] that a article appeared in our columns a few weeks since, announcing the death, in this city, of John G. Peterson, Esq. of Ada. Mr. Peterson was a highly esteemed citizen -- a most affectionate father, and a true and loyal man who had contributed one son, Theodore F. to company A, of the Third Regiment of Michigan Infantry, and who was severely wounded in one of the battles in the Peninsular campaign, and died in hospital in Philadelphia, some months afterward. Lately, another son, Albert C. of company L, Eighth Michigan Cavalry, also died at Bowling Green, Kentucky. While Albert lay very ill, his father made a trip to Kentucky to see him, and, if possible, to try and bring him home, but alas! when he arrived, Albert had been dead two days. This bereavement, added to his former one, so wrought upon the father, mentally and bodily, that on his return home, he was prostrated with congestive fever, and for prompt medical treatment was removed to the residence of a relative, Mr. Edwin Cox, in this city, where every attention that kindly care and competent physicians could give were bestowed upon him, but without effect, and he departed this life, his last words being those of hope and encouragement for his country.
The following testimonial to his son Albert, was sent with him to the hospital, and we publish it as an honorable record to a noble soldier [dated at the headquarters of the Eighth Michigan cavalry, Camp Sterling, Kentucky, August 15, 1863]: “We, the officers of company L, do certify, that Corporal Albert C. Peterson, has been compelled through disability, and against his wishes to go into the Army Hospital. Ever since he entered the service, he has been afflicted with hemorrhage of the lungs, and at times, it seemed almost impossible for him to attend to his duties. He has shown a determination to remain in service, worthy of a true soldier. He has performed his duty, when others, had they been in his situation, would have been placed on the sick list. He had marched until he had almost fell from his horse, when attacked with disease. He has at all times exhibited true bravery, and pure patriotism; was always in the front when there was a prospect of a skirmish. A truer, braver soldier never enlisted in his country's cause. It is with deep regret that we part with him. Let every true lover of our brave soldiers, respect and honor him.”
The foregoing was signed by Charles C. Lamb, Captain; Nate S. Boynton, 1st Lieutenant; Aaron L. Abbey, 2nd Lieutenant; to which Major Mix, commanding 3rd Battery and G. S. Warner, Lieutenant Colonel commanding Regiment, add: “We cheerfully endorse the statement of his officers, and we have known him ever since he joined the Regiment, and we are confident his officers cannot speak too highly of him.”
Another brother is in the service, in a Texan or Missouri Regiment.
Mrs. Peterson has had a treble loss -- two favorite sons, and a husband within the year, laid upon the altar of our country.
In 1871 his widowed mother Jane applied for and received a pension (no. 156004).