Robert and William Patterson

As March 1863 begins, Robert H. Patterson, with the 61st OVI, and William Patterson, with the 1st OVI, are both in winter camp.  Robert is located at Stafford Court House, Virginia, with the Army of the Potomac, and will be in winter camp until April 1863.  William is in winter camp outside Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with the Army of the Cumberland, and will remain in camp until June 1863.

As 1863 begins, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863.  The proclamation declared that all slaves in areas still in rebellion were, in the eyes of the federal government, free.  Later, in March 1863, because of recruiting difficulties, the First Conscription Act was passed by Congress.  The act made all men between the ages of 20 and 45 liable to be called for military service.  Service could be avoided by paying a fee or finding a substitute.  The act was seen as unfair to the poor, resulting in riots in working-class sections of New York City.  A similar conscription act was passed by the South which provoked a similar reaction. 

On the battlefield, 1863 is marked by a number of major battles that lead to the turning point of the war — the Battle of Gettysburg.   The Patterson brothers participated in a number of these battles — Robert in the East and William in Tennessee.  The next major battle is in May 1863 and is considered General Robert E. Lee’s greatest victory — the Battle of Chancellorsville.  Robert Patterson was there.

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