On December 6, 1863, William Patterson wrote a short letter to his mother asking for clothes to be sent to him at Chattanooga. In the letter, he indicates he had previously written about the fight (possibly Mission Ridge?) his regiment was involved in. He also indicates he is feeling better and notes that the last time he saw his brother, Robert, he was safe.
William’s previous letter is missing from the Patterson Family Papers. However, we know that the 1st OVI was heavily involved in the battle for Mission Ridge. On November 23, 1863, the 1st OVI, along with the 23rd Kentucky Volunteer Regiment, attacked Confederate forces on Orchard Knob capturing 150 prisoners and driving the Confederates back to the base of Mission Ridge. The following day, General Hooker’s Corps captured Lookout Mountain (“the battle above the clouds”). The main effort to capture Mission Ridge occurred on November 25.
Early on the morning of November 25, General Sherman’s Corps attacked the Confederate right while General Hooker’s Corps attacked the Confederate left. General Thomas’ Corps, which included the 1st OVI, was to demonstrate against the middle to prevent Confederate General Bragg from reinforcing the two wings under attack.
Late in the afternoon, about 4 o’clock, the 1st OVI, along with the rest of Thomas’ Corps was order to attack the middle of the Confederate lines at the base of Mission Ridge. Confederate troops were quickly overrun. However, it became apparent that the position was unsafe due to the fire come from Mission Ridge and that the only solution was to continue the attack. Without orders, Union troops proceeded up the steep slope of the ridge. General Grant, who was watching the unauthorized attack from below, told General Thomas that someone would “pay for” the blunder if the assault failed. The assault did not fail. Confederate forces were improperly positioned on the ridge so that they could not take advantage of their higher position. Union forces carried the ridge forcing the demoralized Confederates to retreat in a panic down the other side. During the fight the 1st OVI suffered 5 officers and 78 enlisted men killed or wounded.
Transcript of William Patterson’s December 6, 1863 letter.