Peter Steele was born in 1839.
The regimental descriptive rolls of the Third Michigan infantry (which also refer to the rolls for Company G, Fifth Michigan infantry) report only that Peter Steele was 24 years old when he enlisted in Company G on December 16, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, and was mustered on December 27, and that he was subsequently transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps per order from AGO, April 19, 1865, and mustered out on August 1, 1865, at Providence, Rhode Island.
However, according to Fifth Michigan infantry records (and they seem the more reliable of the two sources) Peter was probably living in St. Clair County when he enlisted at the age of 22 in Company G, Fifth Michigan infantry on September 9, 1861, for three years, and was mustered September 10. He was reported detached as a pioneer (probably for the Brigade) from July of 1862 through October of 1862, and reenlisted on December 15, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, and was mustered on December 27.
Peter was subsequently absent on veteran’s furlough in Michigan in January of 1864, and probably returned to the Fifth Michigan on or about the first of February. He was possibly wounded on June 18, near Petersburg, Virginia, and subsequently absent wounded through April of 1865. He was reported transferred to the VRC and discharged on August 1, 1865 at Providence, Rhode Island from Company C, Eleventh Regiment VRC. (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 sities, thus freeing able-bodied men for regular military duty.)
It is not clear why Peter was reported in the Third Michigan. Possibly this was the result of a recording error when the records were transcribed in the Michigan Adjutant General’s office some years after the war. If in fact he was transferred to the Third Michigan, which seems unlikely, Steele’s case was very unusual.
He was one of only two or three men (Charles Draper; Charles Hamill may have been in the Twelfth Michigan before enlisting in Unassigned of the Third) who were transferred into the Third Michigan infantry from other units. Peter is not found in the 1905 Regimental history for the Third Michigan, but is in the Regimental history for the Fifth Michigan.
According to one source Peter was buried in Lone Fir cemetery in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon.