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STEELE, WILLIAM (1820–1885). William Steele, army officer, son of Orlan Steele, was born in New York in 1820. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1840, and was transferred to the Southwest, where he engaged for several years in Indian fighting, particularly in Texas. He participated in the Mexican War from 1846 to 1848, received a commendation for meritorious service, and was promoted to captain. Steele resigned his commission in the United States Army on May 30, 1861, and joined the Confederate forces in Texas. He served in New Mexico in 1862 under Gen. Henry H. Sibley and was promoted to brigadier general. Steele was assigned to command the defenses of Galveston in 1864 and later took part in the Red River Campaign. After the death of Gen. Thomas Green, Steele commanded a division of artillery. After the Civil War Steele returned to Texas and from 1866 to 1873 engaged in the mercantile business in San Antonio. From January 20, 1874, to January 1879 he was adjutant general of Texas and during this time brought about a reorganization of the Texas Rangers. Steele married Annie Du Val; they had one child. He died on January 12, 1885, at San Antonio.


Adjutant General's Records, Texas State Archives, Austin. George W. Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York (8 vols., New York [etc.]: D. Van Nostrand [etc.], 1868–1940). Clarence P. Denman, "The Office of Adjutant General in Texas, 1835–1881," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 28 (April 1925). Clement Anselm Evans, ed., Confederate Military History (Atlanta: Confederate Publishing, 1899; extended ed., Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot, 1987–89). Walter Prescott Webb, The Texas Rangers (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982).


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

"STEELE, WILLIAM," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 25, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on March 8, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.