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Federal (USV)


Lewis Patterson

(1835 - 1883)

Home State: Pennsylvania

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 51st Pennsylvania Infantry

Before Antietam

A 23 year old farmer in Chester County, he enlisted on 31 August 1861 in Upper Merion, and mustered as Private, Company I, 51st Pennsylvania Infantry on 28 September in Harrisburg. He was promoted to Corporal, date not given.

On the Campaign

Colonel Edward Ferrerro of the 51st NY Infantry, commanding the Brigade, had previously taken away his men's whiskey ration to reduce drunkenness. On 17 September near the Lower Bridge at Antietam, speaking to his own and the 51st Pennsylvania regiments, he said:

"It is General Burnside's special request that the two 51sts take that bridge. Will you do it?"

The request was unlooked for, and the men had not had time to think of it, when Corporal Lewis Patterson, of Co. I, although a temperate man, exclaimed, "Will you give us our whiskey, Colonel, if we take it?"

Col. Ferrero turned suddenly around to the corporal and replied, "Yes, by G--, you shall all have as much as you want, if you take the bridge. I don't mean the whole brigade, but you two regiments shall have just as much as you want, if it is in the commissary or I have to send to New York to get it, and pay for it out of my own private purse; that is, if I live to see you through it. Will you take it?"

A unanimous "Yes," went up that told of the determination of the men to take the bridge, not in anticipation of the whiskey, but to let Gen. Burnside know that his confidence in the twin regiments was not misplaced nor should be abused. After a few words in private by the regimental and brigade commanders, the 51st P. V. led the advance ...

The rest of the War

He was promoted to First Sergeant, date not given, reenlisted on 1 January 1864, and was commissioned First Lieutenant on 21 May 1865. He mustered out with his Company on 27 July 1865.

References & notes

Service information from the History,1 source also of the quote above, and the Card File.2 His gravesite is on Findagrave.




1883; burial in Norris City Cemetery, Norristown, PA


1   Parker, Thomas H., History of the 51st Regiment of P.V. and V.V. ..., Philadelphia: King & Baird, Printers, 1869, pp. 232, 676  [AotW citation 23213]

2   Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Adjutant-General, Pennsylvania Civil War Veterans' Card File, 1861-1866, Published <2005, first accessed 01 July 2005, <>  [AotW citation 23214]