Marsena Rudolph Patrick

Marsena Rudolph Patrick, whose family arrived in America in the 1700's, was born near Watertown, New York, March 11, 1811. He ran away from home at an early age and became successively, a canal-boat driver, schoolteacher, medical student, and finally protege of General Stephen van Renssalaer, who secured his admission to the Military Academy. He was graduated in 1835, ranked toward the bottom of a large class which included George Gordon Meade, and was posted to the 2nd Infantry. Patrick served for five years in the difficult and unrewarding Florida war against the Seminoles and for two years in the Mexican War. He was advanced to the rank of brevet major while he functioned as chief commissary to General John E. Wool's column in Chihuahua. He resigned his commission in 1850 to engage in scientific farming at Geneva, New York. During the next decade he was instrumental in the promotion of the New York State Agricultural Society and the New York State Agricultural College, an antecedent of Cornell University. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Patrick became inspector general of the state of New York; he served in this position until March 20, 1862, when he was commissioned brigadier general of volunteers at the express request of General George B. McClellan. In the meantime he had served on the latter's staff as inspector general of New York volunteers. He commanded a brigade of Rufus King's division of McDowell's III Corps during the campaign of Second Manassas; then the division was transferred to Hooker's I Corps and engaged at South Mountain and An-tietam. Soon thereafter McClellan, recognizing Patrick's outstanding capacity as a disciplinarian, appointed him provost marshal general of the Army of the Potomac— an office in which he was maintained by every successive army commander, including Ambrose E. Burnside, Joseph Hooker, and Meade. U. S. Grant ultimately made him provost marshal general of all the armies operating against Richmond, and on March 13, 1865, he received the brevet of major general. Despite a stern manner and a voice reminiscent of the proverbial bull of Bashan, General Patrick's kindheartedness toward the helpless and impoverished white Southerners in the District of Henrico (Richmond), which he commanded after the surrender, led to his relief. So obnoxious to him were the Radical Republican policies that he was induced to run for office on the Democratic ticket. In his last years he was governor of the Soldiers' Home at Dayton, Ohio, where he died July 27, 1888. He was buried there in the Home Cemetery.

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