On December 17, 1863, Robert Patterson wrote a letter to his mother while visiting his brother, William, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This is Robert’s first letter since participating in the battle for Mission Ridge.
Robert reports that he has just returned from a long and tiring march to Knoxville with the 61st OVI. The regiment got within 12 miles of Knoxville when they were ordered to return to Chattanooga. The whole march was about 250 miles. Robert notes that his regiment suffered greatly while on the march. The regiment was short of rations and there was quite a bit of sickness. Further, he knew nothing about the status of his brother and was worried about William’s health. However, when he returned to Chattanooga he found that William had stayed behind due to illness, but was now doing well.
Robert comments on the battle for Mission Ridge, but does not give much details. He reports that the battle was not near as heavy as he expected. He did lose a great many acquaintances in the battle, but his regiment did not suffer any losses because they were not exposed to Rebel fire. He was more concerned that they will lose a great many due to illness.
Robert wraps up his letter with an interesting comment – “I must have a constitution adapted to this kind of life for I was never better.”
Shortly after this letter was written the 61st OVI went into winter quarters, first in the Wauhatchie Valley and later in Bridgeport, Alabama. This is the last letter from Robert in the Patterson Family Papers until May 1864 when the Army of the Cumberland, under the command of William Tecumseh Sherman, is on the march towards Atlanta, Georgia. (Transcript of Robert Patterson Letter, December 17, 1863)