James Steedman was an Ohio political and military leader in nineteenth century America.
Steedman was born on July 29, 1817, in Pennsylvania. At the age of twenty-one, he moved to Napoleon, Ohio, where he published the Northwestern Democrat newspaper. Steedman quickly expanded his interests. He invested funds in the Toledo, Wabash & Western Railroad and also participated in the California gold rush of 1849. In addition to his business ventures, Steedman also was active in politics. He was elected to the Ohio legislature in 1847. In 1857, President James Buchanan selected Steedman to be the public printer of the United States.
At the beginning of the American Civil War, Steedman was a major general in the Ohio militia. He helped organize the Fourteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment and was appointed to be its colonel. On July 17, 1862, Steedman reached the rank of brigadier-general. He fought in the Battle of Perryville in 1862, the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863, and in William T. Sherman's campaign against Atlanta in 1864. He also helped General George Thomas defeat Confederate John Bell Hood's army when it attacked Nashville, Tennessee in late 1864. This was the second time that Steedman had provided Thomas with crucial support. At the Battle of Chickamauga, Steedman had arrived with his division just in time to save Thomas's command from being entirely overwhelmed by the Confederates.
Following the Civil War, Steedman remained in the South and helped carry out the reconstruction policies of the United States. He oversaw federal troops in Georgia in 1865 and then became the New Orleans port collector in 1866. Two years later, Steedman became chief of police of New Orleans. The federal government hoped that Steedman would be able to enforce civil rights legislation and protect African Americans and their white supporters from their opponents. Steedman later moved to Toledo, Ohio where he was elected to the Ohio Senate in 1877. He died on October 8, 1883.
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