Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PATTERSON, Robert, soldier, born in Cappagh, County Tyrone, Ireland, 12 January, 1792 ; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 7 August, 1881. His father, who was engaged in the Irish rebellion of 1798, escaped to this country and settled in Delaware county, Pennsylvania Robert was educated in the common schools, and subsequently became a clerk in a Philadelphia counting-house. He was commissioned 1st lieutenant of infantry in the war of 1812, and afterward served on General Joseph Bloomfield's staff, he returned to commercial pursuits, engaged in manufacturing and established several mills, became active in politics, and was one of the five Colonel Pattersons in the Pennsylvania convention that nominated Andrew Jackson for the presidency, and in 1836 was president of the electoral college that cast the vote of Pennsylvania for Martin Van Buren. In 1838, and again in 1844, he was active in quelling local riots. He became major-general of volunteers at the beginning of the Mexican war, commanded his division at Cerro Gordo, led the cavalry and advanced brigades in the pursuit, entered and took Jalapa, and was honorably mentioned in General Winfield Scott's official report. After the war he resumed business, and took command of the Pennsylvania militia. At the beginning of the civil war he was the oldest major-general by commission in the United States. On the president's first call for 75,000 men for three months, 15 April, 1861, he was mustered into service as major-general of volunteers, and assigned to a military department composed of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. He crossed the Potomac on 15 June at Williamsport. When General McDowell advanced into Virginia, Gem Patterson was instructed to watch the troops under General Joseph E. Johnston at Winchester, Virginia He claimed that the failure of General Winfield Scott to send him orders, for which he had been directed to wait, caused his failure to co-operate with McDowell in the movements that resulted in the battle of Bull Run. He was mustered out of service on the expiration of his commission, 27 July, 1861, and returned to private life. General Patterson was a popular speaker, one of the largest mill-owners in the United States, and was interested in sugar-refineries and cotton-plantations. He was president of the board of trustees of Lafayette college at the time of his death. He published "Narrative of the Campaign in the Shenandoah" (Philadelphia, 1865). --His son, Francis Engle, soldier, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 24 June, 1827 ; died in Fairfax Court-House, Virginia, 22 November, 1862, entered the army from civil life in 1847 as 2d lieutenant of artillery. He became captain in 1855, resigned in 1857, and devoted himself to commercial pursuits till the beginning of the civil war, when he took command of the 115th regiment of Pennsylvania volunteers. He became brigadier-general of volunteers, 11 April, 1862, and participated in the peninsular campaign. He was killed by the accidental discharge of his own pistol.
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