Robert Patterson was one of only six U.S. major-generals in the Mexican War, and later was one of the first generals called to service at the outbreak of the Civil War. His son, of the same name, entered West Point the very week his father was named major-general in 1846. The younger Patterson graduated in the class of 1851, along with such notables as future Union general William Whipple and President Lincoln's Confederate brother-in-law, Ben Hardin Helm. Patterson served in the West against the Indians, and in 1856 was involved in quelling the disturbances in Bloody Kansas. After that he left the service. In April 1861 his father returned to command, and the son determined to volunteer for the Union Army.
Document signed,with engravings of flags, cannon and other accoutrements of war, Washington, August 7, 1861, being Lincoln's original appointment of the younger Patterson to the position of Additional Paymaster, to "rank as such from the First day of June 1861." The document is countersigned by Secretary of War Simon Cameron, and at upper left is also signed as entered by Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas. We obtained this document directly from the Patterson descendants, and it has never before been offered for sale.
Patterson did not act as paymaster for long. In November 1861, now a colonel, he organized the 115th Pennsylvania Infantry. His unit served on the Peninsula in 1862 and was in the Battle of Malvern Hill. They were then assigned to Gen. John Pope's forces for the Northern Virginia campaign, and participated in the battles at Bristoe Station, Second Bull Run and Chantilly. Patterson was next assigned to raise troops, and he resigned at the end of 1862. On April 18, 1867, President Andrew Johnson named him Brevet Brig. Gen. of Volunteers "for meritorious services during the Rebellion". That appointment, signed by Johnson with a stamp, comes in this group.