Francis Engle Patterson

Francis Engle Patterson was born on May 7, 1821, in Philadelphia. He was a son of General Robert Patterson, distinguished in the Mexican War but criticized for his activity during his brief appearance in the Civil War, and was a brother-in-law of General J. J. Abercrombie. Much overshadowed by his father in the war with Mexico, Francis Patterson nevertheless served as second lieutenant of the 1st (U. S.) Artillery; was promoted to first lieutenant in 1848; and, remaining in the regular service after the war, was promoted to be captain of the 9th Infantry on March 3, 1855. Two years later on May 1, 1857, he resigned his commission to return to civilian life. With the outbreak of the Civil War, however, he returned to the army as colonel of the 17th Pennsylvania, a ninety-day militia regiment. After some service as river guards on the Potomac line, the regiment was detailed to join General Robert Patterson's forces at Martinsburg, (West) Virginia, just prior to the battle of First Manassas and was mustered out on August 2. On April 15, 1862, Patterson was made a brigadier general of volunteers to rank from April 11. He commanded the 3rd Brigade of Hooker's division of Heintzelman's III Corps at Williamsburg and Seven Pines, although illness compelled him to relinquish his command during the fighting on June 1. The following November, Patterson was commanding his brigade of the same division, now under Daniel E. Sickles, stationed at Catlett's Station on the Orange 8c Alexandria Railroad. At this juncture he is said to have executed an unauthorized retreat because of a rumor, which proved groundless, of the presence of Confederate forces at Warrenton Junction. Sickles' report is dated November 9, Heintzelman's endorsement recommending that "the matter be investigated" on November 11, and Ambrose E. Burnside's (commander of the army) on November 24. Meantime, on November 22, 1862, General Patterson "was found dead in his tent . . . killed by the accidental discharge of his own pistol."  The place of death is usually fixed at "Fairfax Court House" or "near Occoquan, Virginia." He was buried in Laurel HU1 Cemetery, Philadelphia, on the lot with his father.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.