During October 1862, Robert Patterson and the 61st OVI, were stationed near Washington, D.C., as part of a force under Major General Nathaniel P. Banks assigned to protect the capital. On November 1, 1862, the 61st OVI moved through Thorofare Gap to the Rappahannock River and Warrenton, Virginia. They then returned to Centerville, Virginia, located about 20 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. While at Centerville, Colonel McGroarty, who had been in command of the 61st OVI for about three months, reorganized the regiment bringing it up to strength.
On December 10, 1862, the regiment started for Fredericksburg, Virginia, but arrived to late to participate in the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11 – 15, 1862). The regiment then fell back from Falmouth, Virginia to Aquia Creek, Virginia and went into winter quarters. The regiment remained in winter quarters at Aquia Creek until January 20, 1863, when they were ordered to move to Hartwood Church, Virginia, where they again constructed winter quarters. After sleeping in the quarters one night, they were ordered to abandon them and march to Stafford Court House, Virginia, where they again built winter quarters. This time they remained in the winter quarters until April 27, 1863.