Ole Steensland was born in Hjelmeland, Norway, on 29th April, 1842. His family emigrated to America when he was twelve years old and settled in Iowa County, Wisconsin.
On the outbreak of the Civil War Steensland joined the Scandinavian Regiment that was commanded by fellow Norwegian, Colonel Hans Heg. Steensland took part in the successful raid on Union City, Tennessee. After an extensive campaign in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, Steensland also took part in the battle at Perryville (8th October, 1862).
Steensland helped capture a Confederate artillery battery at Knob Gap, Tennessee on 15th December, 1862 and fought at Murfreesboro (Stones River) on 31st December, 1862.
At the Battle of Chickamauga (19th - 20th September, 1863) the Scandinavian Regiment suffered heavy casualties including the loss of its commander, Colonel Hans Heg. Steensland was captured and imprisoned on Belle Island where he caught smallpox. Later he was transferred to Andersonville Prison in Georgia.
Steensland was a prisoner for over 19 months before being released at the end of the war. While in Andersonville he had seen several of his comrades die including Sivert Pederson. He later described their appearance when they left Andersonville: "We were a hard looking bunch. Some of us almost naked, unshaved, with our louse eaten hair hanging down to our shoulders. My ankles were so stiff and my feet so swollen that I could hardly hobble around."
In 1866 Steensland married Anna Isaacson and purchased a farm in Moscow, Wisconsin, where they raised ten children. Steensland served as chairman of the town council and was a trustee of the Iowa County Insane Asylum.
When Steensland retired he applied for a veteran's pension but his claim was rejected. Ole Steensland died at Blanchardville, Wisconsin, on 15th August, 1903.
Then came the gloomy morning of the 20th when the few of us that were left formed into line of battle. We had orders not to retreat in face of the fact that four strong columns of rebels were charging our weak and scattered line. These were nerve straining moments when boyhood chums were dropping dead or wounded all around me. Ole Milestone [Milesten] was killed on my right, Chris [Christian] Thompson on my left. I got a bullet through my hat and that did no harm, but I was taken prisoner, and that was something that did hurt.
We were a hard looking bunch. Some of us almost naked, unshaved, with our louse eaten hair hanging down to our shoulders. My ankles were so stiff and my feet so swollen that I could hardly hobble around.