David Santee was born on March 16, 1836, in Adams County, Ohio. On August 14, 1861, he enlisted with Company H, 1st Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, at Hillsborough, Ohio. He mustered into service with Company H, as a Bugler, Private, on August 29, 1861, at Camp Chase, Ohio. While at Camp Chase, he was detailed to help take care of some of the sick soldiers. The 1st Ohio Volunteer Cavalry moved to Tennessee, where he continued to work with the sick. He was detailed as a ward master in Hospital #6, Nashville, Tenn. He contracted "remittent fever", which settled in his left leg, causing a disability. He also contracted an unknown illness, which greatly affected the sight in his left eye. He was discharged from the 1st Ohio Volunteer Cavalry in June 1862, in Nashville, Tenn.
David returned home to Ohio, and regained part of his health. On October 13, 1862, David enlisted with the 48th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, as a musician for a brass band, at Camp Dennison, Ohio. When the 48th OVI got to Memphis, Tenn., the project for a brass band was abandoned, as they failed to get any instruments. David was then assigned to the rolls of Company D, 48th OVI. He reenlisted as a veteran, and with the consolidation of the 48th and the 83rd Ohio, he was transferred to Company F of the 83rd Ohio January 17, 1865 along with many others in Company D. Finally he was transferred to the Company B of the 48th Battalion July 24, 1865, near the end of his second 3-year enlistment.
Pension documents received from the National Archives reveal that because of his physical ailments, he was on detached duty most of the time as a musician at the headquarters of the 48th OVI, and of the 3d Division, 13th Army Corps. He eventually became totally blind in his left eye from the illness he contracted while serving with the 1st Ohio Cavalry.
Private David Santee was discharged on October 13, 1865, at Houston, Texas. He returned to Ohio where he lived, later moving to Kansas, Missouri, and finally Indian Territory (Oklahoma). David Santee died on October 24, 1914, in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, and is buried at the Fort Gibson National Cemetery, Fort Gibson, Oklahoma.