June 12th Letter from Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson

Chambersburg, Pa., June 12, 1861.

Colonel E. D. TOWNSEND,
Asst. Adjt. General, U. S. Army, Washington City:

SIR: I yesterday notified you of the occupation of Cumberland by the Indiana regiment under Colonel Wallace, and the fact of secession militia being in his vicinity, upon whom he designed to call. I now inclose for the information of the General-in-Chief the satisfactory report of his journey through Virginia.

I have reason to believe that with few exceptions the people of Maryland are loyal, and wherever a Federal force will appear disloyalty will hide its head and the Government receive powerful auxiliaries. The Unionists now present a bold front and call for aid, which, as I cannot now give and properly sustain, would invite attack and perhaps cause defeat.

In the counties bordering the Potomac are many Union-loving people, but the secessionists are so powerful and violent and well armed, that our friends dare not express open sympathy, and are often forced to array themselves against us. For this reason and to sustain the command at Cumberland, which can gradually work its way east, repairing bridges, I would respectfully suggest two regiments at least, repairing bridges, I would respectfully suggest two regiments at least, if they could be devoted to that purpose, be designated to protect the road in the rear and permit Colonel Wallace to approach. Supplies must also be sent by rail from Wheeling, and require protection. I regret my command is not in condition and sufficiently strong in face of a powerful foe to detach at present a force towards Cumberland. I am resolved to conquer and risk nothing.

On Saturday my depot will be established in Hagerstown, and immediately thereafter my headquarters will be transferred to that place. The want of wagons and the difficulty of procuring teams rapidly enough has trammeled me and does so yet, but on Saturday night I shall have in front of Hagerstown over ten thousand men, strongly posted. With depot there established the different commands will be fitted with expedition and pushed towards the river. The Fourth Artillery battery will not receive its horses before Saturday. The heavy battery will arrive in Hagerstown after me. Before being prepared to advance from that point the troops will be well drilled and disciplined. A marked improvement is daily manifested in their military exercises, and the regiments lately arrived are in excellent condition and drill. Their successes ere long will, I hope, prove we have gained by delay.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major-General, Commanding.


The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. II. With additions and corrections. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902.