On June 1, 1864, William Patterson wrote a short note to his mother reporting that “God in his goodness has spared his life so far.” Since his last letter (May 21st), the 1st OVI had participated in several battles with Confederates, including New Hope Church, Georgia (May 25-26), and Dallas, Georgia (May 28) where they suffered some losses.
The fighting in the Dallas and New Hope Church area represented a new phase in Civil War tactics, at least for the western armies. In the Atlanta campaign, both armies began to habitually entrench. In the fighting around New Hope Church, both armies fought from behind breastworks in the near presence of the enemy and often under intense fire. According to General Sherman, even skirmishers would roll logs together, with dirt in front, to cover their bodies. This was normal for siege operations, but new to armies in the field.