A Civil War Biography
Following the war he left the military and began a wholesale
business in Pennsylvania. He became influential in state politics as
a Jacksonian Democrat. He was one of the members of the Pennsylvania
delegation that nominate Andrew Jackson for president in 1828. He
cast Pennsylvania's electoral votes for Martin Van Buren in 1836.
Patterson fought in the war with Mexico as a major general of
volunteers and on Winfield Scott's staff. Patterson returned to
business after the war with Mexico becoming very wealthy with a
sugar plantation in Louisiana and 30 cotton mills in his home state.
When the Civil War began he was mustered into service and
commissioned a major general of Pennsylvania volunteers on 15 April
1861 and given command of a district that included Pennsylvania,
Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. He failed in his
first assignment to retake the arsenal at Harpers Ferry in May of
1861 allowing the enemy to carry off much US property before
destroying the buildings. Patterson, assigned to watch Joseph E.
Johnston's troop at Winchester, Virginia and to prevent these troops
from moving to reinforce the Confederates at Manassas Junction when
Irwin McDowell moved against them, crossed the Potomac on 15 June
1861. Patterson failed to attack Johnston's troops allowing them to
slip off and join Beauregard. Patterson later claimed the failure of
Scott to send him orders, for which he had been directed to wait,
caused his failure to cooperated with McDowell. Scott ordered
Patterson to be relieved of command. His request for a court of
inquiry was denied and he was honorably discharged on 27 July 1861.
He returned to his business ventures and made a fortune in sugar
refineries and cotton mills. He published his version of his
campaign in a booklet entitled "A Narrative of the Campaign in the
Valley of the Shenandoah in 1861," in 1865. In 1867 he became
president of the Aztec Club, an organization formed on 13 October
1847 by officers in the US Army occupying Mexico City. He held that
post until he died on 7 August 1881 in Philadelphia.
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